3 Unique Ways That Raccoons Can Damage Your Trees


Raccoon Perched High in Tree

Raccoons are amazing and fascinating creatures, but that does not mean that most people want them in their yard, garden, or home. Most people know that raccoons can do a lot of damage to the inside of homes, especially attics. However, did you know that raccoons can actually do a lot of damage to trees as well?

As a general rule, raccoons damage trees by burrowing, leaving behind food and garbage, and over-foraging. The younger the tree, the more at risk it is for raccoon damage as the branches and leaves are so delicate. To keep raccoons out of trees, fence off the trees using galvanized metal wire.

In this article, we will be explaining all of the unique ways that raccoons can damage your trees and giving you some tips on how to get raccoons out of your trees in case you’ve got one of these furry critters perched in there, and just how to keep them out for good. Let’s get to it!

How Raccoons Can Damage Your Trees

Raccoons can do a lot of damage to trees as a result of trying to burrow in them for their nest!

This includes physical damage to the tree during the burrowing process and just due to the fact that raccoons are not necessarily known for keeping their dens clean and leave behind excrement, which can damage the tree.

This is especially true for fruit trees as foraging can cause additional damage as well, but expands to really any tree that raccoons find some way to utilize.

Here are 3 unique ways that raccoons can damage your trees.

Burrowing

Raccoons love to burrow in small, warm spaces. As a result, many raccoons will look at holes and crevices in trees as the perfect spot to set up their den.

I mean, it’s ready-made AND provides a strong and perfect structure for them high off the ground. Can you blame them?

Unfortunately, this burrowing behavior can cause a lot of damage to the inside of your tree, as they could scrape away inside bark to make space.

In addition to burrowing damage, the accumulation of raccoon feces, food waste, garbage, and other items in and around your tree could cause some indirect damage to your tree as well and just leave a plain ol’ big mess.

Leaving Behind Food and Garbage

Raccoon on Trash Can Eating Slice of Bread

Speaking of garbage and waste, raccoons are pretty messy animals in general, and this means that they are likely to leave things like their feces and food waste around their dens.

In addition to waste, Raccoons also tend to use things like dirty garbage to make their dens more comfortable. Yes, pretty gross.

Even worse, this could accumulate flies and other types of vermin as a result, and this often leads to additional damage to the tree indirectly. Mold, bacteria, and other damaging factors can accumulate on both the inside and outside of a tree as a result of feces, food waste, and garbage accumulation.

This acclimation of mold, bacteria, and other growths can potentially cause many different types of plant-based diseases and harm the tree.

Over Foraging

Raccoons love to eat fruit, so fruit trees could potentially be at risk of damage from over foraging.

This is not only annoying for those wishing to eat their tree’s fruit, but over foraging can damage your tree’s branches and leaves and ruin the longevity of the tree in the process.

In addition, raccoons leaving fruit scraps at the tops of trees could lead to the accumulation of flies and other insects. This can cause even more damage to the tree as a result of insects feeding on its leaves and leave the tree in a vulnerable state.

How to Get Racoons Out of Your Trees

Due to all of the damage that raccoons can do to your trees, it is only natural for you to want them gone!

This is especially true for those who fear that these raccoons will also make their way into the home and other structures outside, such as sheds and barns.

Don’t worry; luckily, there are some easy and practical ways that you can get and keep raccoons out of your trees.

Make the Area Inhospitable for Raccoons

The first thing that you can do to get raccoons out is to make the area inhospitable for them!

One relatively quick way to do this is by installing motion-activated outdoor lights and sprinklers. This does not harm the raccoon, and it will likely annoy them enough for them to decide to leave.

This is especially true if the raccoons are very new to your yard and there are no raccoon pups present. In addition to this, you could play some music through outdoor speakers as well. However, those with close neighbors may want to opt-out of doing this.

Long story short, we generally recommend a strobe-styled motion sensor light combined with the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler to give you the best chance at deterring raccoons.

This tactic is most successful when multiple deterrents are used together. For example, using a sprinkler system, outdoor lights, and a raccoon repellent is usually more successful than just setting some lights up outside.

You can read more about using motion sensor lights and water sprinklers to deter wildlife by viewing one of our most popular wildlife guides here.

Use a Raccoon Repellent

Raccoon repellent is great for getting raccoons out of an area when they have not been there for too long, as they haven’t made the area their official home at this point.

Repellents can also be an excellent tool for keeping raccoons away after they have left. There are plenty of raccoon repellents on the market, but you want one that utilizes one of the scents that raccoons hate, such as peppermint oil.

Natural Armor Animal and Rodent Repellent Spray has a primary ingredient of peppermint oil and works to repel other critters from your property as well. You can spray Natural Armor around your trees where you’re trying to repel raccoons, and they’ll likely be averse to the scent!

Call a Professional to Remove the Raccoons

Although the above deterrents can be very successful at getting raccoons out of specific areas, there are some times when you should always call a professional.

These include times when there are kit raccoons (younglings) are present, if raccoons are not leaving your yard, or if you just don’t feel comfortable with using deterrents in the first place.

You should always contact a professional when raccoons aren’t leaving. Don’t force the solution. Feel free to take a gander at our nationwide wildlife control partner network and get connected with a pest pro near you in seconds if you’re at this point!

Long Term Solutions to Keep Racoons Away from Trees

Raccoon High in Tree Looking at Camera

If you don’t currently have raccoons nesting in your tree, then well, you’re in luck!

There are some simple things that you can do to ensure that raccoons stay out of your trees for good. This includes sealing up holes, making your trees unclimbable, setting up a secure fence, and keeping your yard clean.

Here are a few long-term solutions for keeping raccoons away.

Seal Up or Cover Holes

Sealing up and covering holes in your trees, around your house, and on other structures prevents raccoons from burrowing in these places. This makes it much less likely for raccoons to set up their dens on your property.

For smaller holes, you’ll want to use 3/4 inch galvanized wire that can be easily formatted to the width of each hole but difficult for the raccoons to claw through.

Make Your Trees Unclimbable

In addition to sealing up holes, you can protect your trees by making them less easy for a raccoon to climb. You can do this by installing a barrier around your trees.

Again, back to the galvanized wire here. 3/4 inch galvanized wire placed circularly around the base of a tree can prevent raccoons from climbing over the top of the fence and onto the tree. You’ll want to make the wire border at least 5 feet high and point the top of the wire outwards at a 90-degree angle.

Make sure that the top of the wire isn’t supported too much, as when raccoons try to climb the wire, we want them to succumb to their own weight and flop over while trying to climb. This can be especially helpful for those with sapling fruit trees.

Keep Your Yard Clean

It is crucial that you keep your yard clean if you are trying to keep raccoons away. This is because raccoons are often attracted to things like garbage cans, food containers, and fallen fruit from trees because it provides them a quick snack.

Additionally, raccoons like to have cover from predators, so by keeping debris off your property and your lawn trimmed, you’ll be providing raccoons less cover and thus, keeping them in wooded areas away from your home.

Simply put, keeping your yard clean will make raccoons much less likely to wander into it.

Install Secure Fencing

Setting up a secure fence will prevent raccoons from entering your yard as well.

This is especially true if it isn’t easily climbable, there are no cracks, and there is no way that a raccoon can dig underneath it. You can prevent raccoons from digging under your fence by placing rocks or installing wire mesh under and around the perimeter of your fence.

Galvanized wire at 3/4 inch thickness is the best wire fencing to keep raccoons out. Additionally, a garden fence will be a good first barrier to keeping raccoons and other critters alike away from your property.

You can read more about the best garden fencing for your backyard here.

That’s a Wrap!

Raccoons can damage trees through their messy burrowing and eating habits both directly and indirectly. Luckily, there are ways that you can deter and get rid of raccoons in a safe and humane way. In addition to this, making some simple changes to your yard, such as setting up a secure fence and putting up barriers around trees, can keep raccoons away long term as well.

References

Byrne, M. E., & Chamberlain, M. J. (2012). Using first-passage time to link behaviour and habitat in foraging paths of a terrestrial predator, the racoon. Animal Behaviour, 84(3), 593-601.

Berner, A., & Gysel, L. W. (1967). Raccoon use of large tree cavities and ground burrows. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 706-714.

Page, L. K., Swihart, R. K., & Kazacos, K. R. (1999). Implications of raccoon latrines in the epizootiology of baylisascariasis. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 35(3), 474-480.

Smith, W. P., & Endres, K. M. (2012). Raccoon use of den trees and plant associations in western mesophytic forests: tree attributes and availability or landscape heterogeneity?. Natural Resources 3: 75-87, 3, 75-87.

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