Raccoon droppings are a nuisance, as they stain and damage homes, and they are also a carrier of a number of diseases. In this article, we shall discuss solutions to control this problem, as well as the correct method to handle and discard raccoon poop.
Effectively closing all access points to your residence, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting raccoon latrines will keep these animals from returning to your home.
With increasing intrusion of humans into the wild, it is inevitable that wild animals adapt and use human residences as their own. This leads to the area becoming dirty and unhygienic, and although raccoons are often seen washing their paws, they are far from clean. These animals are carriers of many diseases that are harmful to humans and pets alike. Besides carrying diseases, raccoon poop also causes stains and damages homes, decreasing the value of the property. Therefore, it is imperative that we learn how identify raccoon latrines, clean the area, and discard the feces safely.
Identifying Raccoon Latrines
Raccoons select certain places around homes or yards where they repeatedly deposit their feces. In a way this is good, because you have to clean only one place. The most likely areas for spotting a raccoon latrine are upraised areas like roofs, haylofts, crawlspaces, dead or fallen trees, fence lines, big rocks, open attics, or decks. The appearance of raccoon droppings differs depending on how old it is and what the raccoon had eaten. Fresh feces are tubular in shape, 7 – 15 cm long, with blunt ends, and with a similar diameter as a nickel. While most raccoon feces are dark in color, this can change depending on the animal’s diet. One may notice that the poop contains seeds and other plant matter. Due to decomposition, older feces lose their shape and color, ending up looking like tree bark or dried leaves.
Diseases Caused by Raccoon Droppings
Although raccoon bites are known to cause rabies, their feces are just as harmful.
Raccoon feces can carry the eggs of this roundworm, which can get transferred to pets and humans if accidentally ingested. The illness usually starts a week after infection, and the person may display symptoms like poor muscle coordination, tiredness, blindness, and finally coma. Anyone who suspects the ingestion of raccoon feces should seek immediate medical treatment to prevent the infection.
This is a bacterial disease that is spread through the urine of raccoons. Infection usually occurs when water that is contaminated with diseased raccoon urine comes in contact with human skin, or if it is accidentally swallowed. This disease can also severely affect dogs, and can result in death. The symptoms of leptospirosis are high fever with severe body ache. Severe cases may cause kidney and liver problems too. Prompt medical treatment is absolutely necessary.
This disease is fatal to both raccoons as well as dogs. The symptoms are similar to rabies, and regular vet checkups are needed to prevent any complications.
Giardia lamblia, Trypanosoma cruzi, Rickettsia rickettsii, and Salmonella are few other disease-causing microorganisms found in raccoon scat.
How to Clean Raccoon Poop
Now that you know that having a raccoon latrine in or near your residence is very risky, you need to understand how to safely clean up raccoon feces so as to avoid contracting any disease. The cleaning method will differ slightly depending on where the raccoon latrine is located.
- Rubber boots
- Nitrile rubber gloves
- N-95 rated respirator
- Safety goggles
- Water spray bottle
- Strong plastic garbage bags
Be sure to always wear protective clothing while cleaning raccoon poop.
- Raccoons love to defecate in water. So, if you notice poop in your swimming pool, the first thing to do is to drain the pool and take a sample of the poop, which you need to get tested for roundworm eggs by the Animal Control or the local health department.
- Scoop out all the feces into a garbage bag and tie it securely. This poop should either be buried, burned, or sent to a landfill.
- Wash and drain the pool well with strong disinfectants, before filling it back up with water.
- However, if the roundworm test comes back positive, you need to clean the pool several times, before getting another test done to confirm the removal of all roundworm eggs. This is because the eggs are not affected by most chemical treatments.
- Most roundworm eggs will be caught in the pool’s filter, so clean and disinfect this part thoroughly.
- Also, you will notice that raccoons usually poop at the steps of the pool where the water is shallow. So, board up that area with wood planks that have been pounded with steel nails, which will act as a spiky deterrent to the raccoon.
- To prevent the raccoon from defecating in the pool again, you can set up a pet fence around the area.
- Mist the area with a water spray bottle to prevent the dust and feces mixing and infecting the air.
- Scoop or shovel the feces, any affected insulation, and other materials into a garbage bag and seal it well.
- Carefully take the bag out for disposal, without contaminating the other parts of your home.
- You now need to disinfect and deodorize the attic.
- Locate and seal the entry point to prevent the raccoon from reentering.
- In case there is extensive damage in the attic area, it is best to call in professionals.
- Mist the area with a spray bottle to reduce dust.
- Collect all the feces in a garbage bag with your shovel. Seal and discard the bag.
- Thoroughly disinfect the area.
- If the soil is heavily contaminated with feces, dig up 4 inches of the top soil in the area and send it to be discarded in a landfill.
Safety Tips for Making Your Home Raccoon-free
Now that you have learned how to safely clean up raccoon feces, let us look at some additional safety tips to keep your pets and yourself safe.
- After you complete a cleaning procedure, wash your hands and exposed skin with soap and warm water thoroughly. Do not leave out crevices, such as the underside of the nails, etc.
- Do not bring your safety clothes inside the house without disinfecting them first in boiling water.
- Do not leave any pet food, garbage cans, or other attractors in areas where the raccoons can access them.
- Never feed raccoons, and discourage such behavior if you see someone else doing so.
- If you have raccoon that is living near your home, contact animal control to relocate the animal.
- Always check for raccoon babies in areas where you suspect these animals are frequenting.
- Food composting should be done in secured, locked bins.
- Keep your pets away from areas frequented by raccoons.
- Don’t allow small trees and bushes to grow on your property, as these are areas that are ideal for a raccoon’s den.
- Cover and secure sandboxes when not in use.
- Secure pet entrances, so that the raccoons can’t get inside your home.
- Secure vents with strong metal screens.
- After you clean up raccoon scat, burning the waste is an effective method of getting rid of roundworm eggs. However, be sure about your local fire regulations before doing so.
- Empty any bird feeders after the sun sets.
- Keep your pets regularly vaccinated.
- Fix some plastic bags outdoors, where they will rustle with the wind, but not fly away. This rustling sound might act as a deterrent to the raccoons.
- Ammonia-soaked cloth can also be kept in areas frequented by them, as a deterrent. However, since ammonia evaporates, the cloth needs to be refreshed regularly.
Although these masked pests may seem cute, it is definitely risky to encourage them to inhabit near your residence. Following these tips will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe.