Ducks and chickens make great backyard pets; they are cute, (mostly) sweet, and can even give you backyard eggs! However, you won’t be the only ones trying to eat those eggs (or the birds that laid them).
Raccoons are a serious predator to ducks, and often target ducks and duck eggs in coops. Luckily, you can keep raccoons away from your ducks by blocking any gaps in your coop and fence, only letting your ducks out during the day, and using 1/4th inch mesh fencing so raccoons can’t get through.
Repelling those rascally raccoons is easier than you think! Read on to find out our full list of simple tips to keep raccoons away from your ducks.
Tips For Keeping Your Coop And Fence Secure From Raccoons
If your backyard is home to chickens or ducks, chances are that you have a coop. And if you don’t, now is the time to get one! Having free-roaming backyard ducks is a surefire way to attract raccoons, and their predatory buddies, onto your lawn.
Now, assuming you do have a coop, there are a few different things you can do to ensure that it is a fortress of protection against those pesky ole raccoons.
Always keep in mind that raccoons are smart, sneaky, and resourceful. So, to keep them away, you’ll have to beat them at their own game!
Let’s look at five simple ways you can make sure your coop and fence are secure and protected against these masked bandits.
Block Any Gaps In Your Coop And Fence
The first thing you will want to check for is gaps in your coop and its fence. Don’t have a fence surrounding your coop yet? Get one, ASAP!
Fences will assist in keeping out not only raccoons but a plethora of other animals who may want to snack on the eggs and birds instead. This includes snakes, bobcats, and coyotes.
Obviously blocking or repairing any holes in the fence will be your first step, but even after that, you will need to ensure that any smaller gaps or parts where the fence doesn’t totally connect are covered by wood, rocks, or something else sure to keep animals out.
You may be imagining large, bumbling raccoons who feast on city trash and live in dumpsters, and wonder, how can those big guys really get inside such a small gap?
Well, you’d be surprised. First of all, if the raccoons are from a more rural, wooded area, chances are they won’t be the big guys you might find in a city alley. Woodland raccoons are much more likely to be lithe, small, and adept at squeezing in and out of tiny places; after all, they often nest in tree hollows or holes underground!
Second, as we’ve already mentioned, raccoons are resourceful, and will often stop at nothing to get to a readily available food source. If they can’t fit through an obvious gap, they may attempt to widen the gap until they can!
So, your best option is to make sure there are no gaps or holes, even tiny ones, in your fence. Out of sight, out of mind!
Use Hooks Locks On The Coop Door
Have you ever seen a raccoon’s hands? They look like little human hands, making them very adept at opening things that most animals would have difficulty with.
For this reason, make sure you aren’t using a simple sliding latch; raccoons will open those with ease. Instead, invest in hook locks, which raccoons will struggle a lot more with because, despite their human-esque hands, they still don’t have thumbs (ha-ha!).
When on the hunt for the proper lock, also make sure that you are buying one for outdoor use- try to find ones that can go on barn doors and the like. Something like the Homely Stainless Steel Hook and Eye Latch is a solid latch that will be tough for raccoons to figure out.
Use Smaller Mesh On Your Coop Fence
Ah, yes, more ways for tricky raccoons to take advantage of their strange little hands. If you have mesh that is too wide in your fence, raccoons can easily stick their hands inside, scooping up eggs or anything else that wanders too close (like a duckling).
For this reason, you will want to install a fence that has mesh at least ½ inch or smaller. Anything bigger will put your flock’s eggs and young in danger of being snatched up!
A galvanized wire fence like the Rocicmhy ¼ inch hardware cloth would work great. It has small enough gaps that raccoons can’t fit their paws in it to harm your eggs or ducks.
Use Small Mesh Underneath Your Coop
Raccoons are diggers- in the wild, it’s common for raccoons to dig holes to burrow in, according to the Adirondack Ecological Center. So, if your fence just barely touches the ground, you may be in trouble.
Try to sink your fence at least 6” under the ground to prevent raccoons from tunneling underneath your fortress and gaining access to your vulnerable fowl!
Make Sure Your Coop Is Attached To The Ground
If you can attach your duck coop to the ground, you absolutely should. While this seems like it may be difficult, it’s actually pretty simple if you or someone you know has any background in building or construction!
Auger anchors, which are typically used to attach things like mobile homes and free-standing sheds to the ground, will also work very well for chicken and duck coops.
If you are unable to attach your coop to the ground, make sure it is extremely heavy, particularly in the top part. This way, it will make it much more difficult for raccoons and other animals to tip over.
Tips For Keeping Your Ducks Secure From Raccoons
Now that we’ve discussed making sure that your coop and fence are secure, let’s look next at making sure that your birds themselves are safe from raccoons and other potential predators!
Only Let Your Flock Out During The Day
Raccoons are nocturnal animals, meaning they typically like to roam between dusk and dawn and have an excellent nature-built nighttime vision.
While chickens are the complete opposite and like to sleep at night (like humans), ducks fall somewhere in the middle. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wild ducks tend to be semi-active at night. They are not classified as nocturnal but aren’t opposed to some late nights!
Backyard ducks tend to follow their wild cousins in this regard. If you have chickens, chances are you won’t hear any noise or movement coming from your coop at night. But if you have ducks, don’t be surprised if you hear some after-hours parties going on.
For this reason, it’s important to make sure your ducks are only allowed outside of their coop during the day and safely secured at night. In addition, try to avoid letting your flock roam free at dusk or dawn.
Raccoons are big fans of early morning and early evening hunting sessions. Letting your coop run free an hour before or after dawn or roughly 30 minutes before dusk is a surefire way to attract some unwanted visitors!
Let them get their energy out during the day, and then keep them safe and secure when night falls!
Remove Duck Eggs Frequently
Raccoons will eat just about everything, so getting rid of temptations is your best bet to keeping them from sniffing out your yard on their lunch break.
The first thing you should be removing from that coop every day is your duck’s eggs. Leaving them in their nest for extended periods is like offering the raccoons in your area an all-you-can-eat buffet.
It’s recommended to remove eggs at least once a day- but twice a day if you can. Check when you first wake up, to discourage daytime predators like snakes, and then again before you go to bed- remember, raccoons are nocturnal!
They will most likely leave your flock alone during the day and then strike in the dead of night. So don’t forget to check the coop during your evening rounds and take any eggs that have been laid during the day inside!
Remove Uneaten Duck Food Frequently
In addition to eggs, make sure you are also frequently removing uneaten feed! Your ducks may not want anymore, but that doesn’t mean a raccoon will turn their nose up at it!
Remember- they will eat basically anything, so be sure there is no food- or things raccoons would consider to be food- left in your enclosure for extended periods, and especially not at night.
Scents and Tastes That Raccoons Hate
Now, we’ve talked about a few ways you can keep your coop, fence, and flock secure. Even with these safety measures, however, it’s possible raccoons will still attempt to weasel their way into your yard to get to your ducks.
The probability of them succeeding, of course, depends on your prevention methods. If you want to make your ducks’ area extra unpleasant for them, consider utilizing scent repellents to keep them away. Many of these scents are sold as essential oils and can easily be found online or at your local grocery store.
So, if you’d like a little extra protection for your flock, here are a few scents and tastes that raccoons absolutely loathe:
Irish Spring Soap
For whatever reason, raccoons absolutely hate the smell of Irish Spring soap, most likely due to the ingredients it contains. You may even have a bar or two lying around if it happens to be your preferred soap brand!
If you do and want to utilize this easy method, simply use a grater to shred the bar into flakes, and sprinkle the flakes around your yard, paying special attention to the area around your coop and fence.
You can read more about repelling raccoons with soap here.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another smell that raccoon simply can’t stand. It has tons of additional benefits, so you can use it for things other than raccoon-repellent if you so desire!
Sprinkling drops around the perimeter of where your ducks roam is a great way to help keep the raccoons at bay. Just be sure to dilute the oil first. 10-15 drops for every 1 cup of water is recommended.
Ethereal Nature 100% Pure Oil, Tea Tree, is the perfect product for the job. Have extra left over? Make sure to re-apply as needed!
Raccoons aren’t a fan of spicy things- who would have thought? For that reason, grabbing the bottle of cayenne pepper you might use to spice up taco night and sprinkling it around your yard is another great way to keep intruders out.
Peppermint essential oil has many uses, one of which being that it makes a great raccoon repellant!
Adding some diluted drops to the perimeter of where your ducks roam will make your yard smell like Christmas, while also letting raccoons know this isn’t a wild animal cafeteria. Win-win!
More specifically for raccoons, Rodent Sheriff’s Ultra-Pure Peppermint Spray is a great solution for a raccoon deterrent with its base ingredient of natural peppermint oil.
You might think of Epsom salts as the thing your dad used as a kid to help stop his back from hurting, but surprisingly enough, it also works incredibly well as a raccoon deterrent!
Like with soap flakes and pepper, simply sprinkle the salt around your yard every evening before bed, and raccoons will have no interest in hanging out near your duck coop!
A plus side? Epsom salt is also a great fertilizer for your garden! Try some like the Epsoak Epsom Salt. This is a 5lb bag, so it’s sure to repel raccoons for a long time.
A Note About Using Scents:
In fact, cayenne is good for backyard fowl; it can help aid their digestion, get rid of certain worms and diseases, and even boost egg production. So, adding a little bit to their daily feed isn’t a bad idea either.
However, when using essential oils, be sure to proceed with caution. Essential oils can be harmful to ducks. If ingested, large amounts can prove to be toxic, and getting the oil on their feathers or skin can disrupt the production of their natural oils, which are responsible for their glossy feathers.
For this reason, make sure that you are only applying the essential oils after your ducks are locked securely away for the evening. It is also a good idea to use essential oils just around the edges of your fence, away from where your ducks could actually ingest or roll around in them. Save your coop for scent repellents that are safe for ducks, like soap and spice!
If you’d like to learn more, you can read our full list of the scents that raccoons hate here.
That’s A Wrap!
Raccoons are smart, nimble animals who won’t turn down an easy meal. Don’t make it easy for them! Be sure to utilize some, if not all, of the tips suggested to keep your ducks safe from raccoons. To recap, here are 13 tips to keep your flock safe:
- Block any and all gaps in your fencing
- Use hook locks or other difficult locks on the doors
- Make sure the mesh is ¼ inch or smaller in size
- Bury the mesh at least 6” below the soil to prevent digging
- Attach your coop to the ground
- Only let your flock out during the day
- Remove eggs frequently
- Remove uneaten feed
- Use scents & smells to deter raccoons like:
- Irish Spring Soap
- Tea Tree Oil
- Cayenne Pepper
- Epsom Salts
Hopefully, utilizing some or all of these tips and tricks will help ensure that your ducks are safe, happy, and protected from nighttime invaders. Remember, as their owners, it’s up to you to take care of them. So don’t cut corners! Your ducks- and the eggs they produce- will thank you!
Johnson, S., & Johnson, D. (2019). How to Build Chicken Coops: Everything You Need to Know (2nd ed.). Voyageur Press.
Miller, C.A., L.K. Campbell, J.A. Yeagle, and C.B. Colligan. 2001. Attitudes of Homeowners in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Region Toward Nuisance Wildlife. Human Dimensions Program Report SR-00-02. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL.
Suzanne Prange, Stanley D. Gehrt, Ernie P. Wiggers, Influences of Anthropogenic Resources on Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Movements and Spatial Distribution, Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 85, Issue 3, June 2004, Pages 483–490.