Saturday, April 30, 2011

Walking Biohazards

I do not like raccoons. (Do not read this if you are eating.)

In fact I find them to be foul little creatures. They are vicious, carry disease and are disgusting.

Not so cute when they look like this, eh?
I try to dissuade people from thinking they are cute little woodland creatures, à la Disney's Snow White, and explain why they should not be fed or encouraged into ones yard. They are vicious wild animals. Some people think they look cute with those adorable bandit masks and fluffy tails, but they have been known to gang up on people and fillet them open. They have been known to vivisect dogs, cats and, yes, chickens. They have attacked people that had simply walked too close and even chased down those who had not.

They live everywhere in a city, not just in rural or semi-rural areas. They live in subdivision, suburbs and when I lived in downtown Seattle, I would see them running through the alleys at night.

People think I am joking when I call them walking bio-hazards. I am not. Raccoons are carriers of disease and can carry; distemper, leptospirosis, listeriosis, rabies, roundworms, tetanus, and tularemia.  All of which are pretty nasty ailments.

Raccoon poop
A few weeks back, while cleaning the Fir duff off of my garage roof I found a raccoon latrine. Just another reason for me to despise the nasty little creatures. The thought of it still gives me the heebie-jeebies! Raccoons, like humans, like a flat place to poop, so the little eave their latrine was under seemed to be an ideal spot for them. But they will also make latrines under porches, in attics, next to a tree, in crawl spaces... You get the picture.

Raccoon poop is tubular and blunted on one end and can contain seeds. It kinda looks like cat poop but with seeds. Fresh poop is brown and old poop looks a bit like leaf mold.

In cleaning raccoon latrines, some precautions have to be taken. You are going to need:

  • Rubber gloves that you are going to throw away
  • Disposable shoe booties or heavy rubber boots you can disinfect
  • Particle mask
  • Shovel
  • Heavy duty plastic bags
  • Spray bottle that you are going to throw away
  • Bleach
So armed with all these things, I climbed up onto my roof and gave a shudder. Touching poop is not one of my favourite things. Touching poop that is a steaming pile of biological weaponry, even worse. Just sayin'. 

First, put on your gloves, boots and mask. Next, you want to spray the whole thing down with bleach. You can dilute the bleach, I didn't.  Basically, moist poop stirs up less of the roundworm eggs than dry poop.  Once you get it sprayed, GENTLY scoop the poop up with the shovel and place it in the garbage bag. Once, you get the whole area cleaned up, you can then spray it down with the bleach or pour boiling hot water over the area. 

If the latrine is on the ground, you can shovel up 2-4 inches of the soil and discard it with the waste. Roundworm eggs can survive in soil and if you have kids, or pets, this is recommended. 

Throw your gloves, disposable booties if you used them, particle mask and spray bottle into the plastic bag, seal it up tight and throw it in the garbage can. DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR YARD WASTE CONTAINER OR ATTEMPT TO COMPOST IT! Throw that nasty stuff away.

Pour boiling water over your shovel and let it sit in the sun for a few days and that should kill any roundworm eggs.  Then wash yourself and everything you have worn in nice hot water. I showered for almost a half hour and shuddered and made icky noise most of the time.

Usually, raccoons will not come back to a disturbed latrine. But you may have to check regularly and clean the spot a few times before they get the message. If the latrine is in a space like your attic or crawl space, close off the entrance and that particular pest will not be able to use that spot again in the future. 

I cleared the branches from the roof to make it more difficult for them to get to that spot, hopefully that will keep them off the roof from now on. 

In order to make your yard inhospitable to raccoons, make sure that you do not leave pet food out. Make sure that your garbage can is closed up tight. If you have chickens, make sure you lock them in every night, because if you are lax on locking your girls up once, you will have chicken bits all over the yard the next morning. Trust me, I know. Pick up any fallen fruit from fruit trees. Clean their latrines when you find them. Basically, don't give them a reason to come into your yard.

If they are still a nuisance, you can live trap them and there are many companies that you can pay to do this or you can usually rent live traps at most tool rental places. (No, I don't like the horrid creatures but I don't want to kill them either.)

You can find additional information on raccoons at: 


  1. Even with the teeth, they are still cute. And they are made of pure evil. Had several proofs of this, but two of them attacked my friend and her two small dogs. On her own front porch. She had to kick the 'coon several times in the face before he'd let go of the doggie drumstick.

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