Raccoons, with their mischievous eyes and dexterous paws, are curious creatures that often wander into our backyards. But did you know that their droppings can tell us a lot about them?
Understanding raccoon poop is not just a quirky interest; it’s crucial for homeowners and anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Let’s dive into this unique topic and discover why it’s more important than you might think.
Physical Characteristics of Raccoon Poop
Raccoons leave behind clues about their diet and habits, and one of the most telling signs is their poop. Typically, it’s tubular in shape, resembling that of a small dog. The size can vary, but it’s usually about two to three inches long.
Depending on what the raccoon has been munching on, the color can range from dark black to a lighter shades of grey.
If you look closely (though not too closely), you might spot undigested bits of what the raccoon ate. This could be seeds, berries, or even tiny bones. These remnants can give you an idea of the raccoon’s recent meals.
Now, you might wonder how raccoon droppings differ from other animals’. It’s a valid question!
Raccoon feces are often mistaken for those of cats or small dogs. However, the presence of those undigested food particles is a telltale sign you’re dealing with raccoon waste.
Habitats and Locations
Ever heard of a raccoon latrine?
It’s not a fancy restroom for raccoons, but rather specific spots where they frequently poop. Raccoons are creatures of habit. They often return to the same places to do their business. These latrines can be found at the base of trees, on logs, or even in attics if a raccoon has made its way into a home.
Raccoons don’t have a set schedule for when they poop. Various factors, like their diet and activity level, influence it. However, if you’re noticing a lot of feces in one area, it’s a good bet that a raccoon has claimed that spot as its personal latrine.
Raccoons also have a tendency to poop in shallow water when they think they need to hide the small of their scat. This behavior is trivial when they are using a small stream for their bathroom. However, in urban areas this becomes a real nuisance for homeowners as raccoons will often wade onto the steps of a swimming pool to take care of their business!
As the seasons change, so might the appearance and frequency of raccoon droppings. For instance, in the spring, when fruits are abundant, you might notice more seeds in their waste.
Hazards Associated with Raccoon Poop
Now, this is where things get serious. Raccoon feces can carry diseases, some of which are harmful to humans. One of the most concerning is raccoon roundworm. If someone accidentally ingests or inhales the eggs of this parasite, it can lead to severe health issues.
Besides roundworm, raccoon poop can harbor other nasty surprises. Various bacteria and parasites might be lurking within, waiting for an unsuspecting host. It’s not just about touching the feces directly. If raccoon poop dries out and crumbles, tiny particles can become airborne. Breathing in these particles can pose health risks, especially if they contain harmful pathogens.
Safe Handling and Cleanup
If you’ve identified a raccoon latrine in your yard or home, don’t panic. With the right precautions, you can handle it safely. First and foremost, gear up. Wear gloves and a mask to ensure you don’t come into direct contact with the feces or inhale any particles.
When it comes to disposal, it’s not as simple as scooping and tossing. To ensure safety, double-bag the feces in plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash. Once you’ve removed the droppings, the area isn’t automatically clean. It’s essential to sanitize the spot to kill any lingering pathogens.
Lastly, prevention is better than cure. To keep raccoons from returning to their favorite pooping spot, consider natural deterrents or changes to the environment that make it less appealing.
Preventing Raccoon Infestations
Raccoons are smart and adaptable, but there are ways to make your home less inviting to them. One of the primary attractions for raccoons is food. If you have trash bins outside, ensure they’re securely closed. Raccoon-proof lids are available and can be a game-changer.
Leaving pet food outdoors is like setting up a buffet for raccoons. Always feed pets inside or promptly remove any leftover food. Also, take a walk around your home and check for potential entry points. Raccoons can squeeze through surprisingly small spaces, so seal any gaps or holes.
If you’re looking for a more natural approach, some scents and plants act as raccoon deterrents. Research and find what might work best for your space.
Raccoons, while fascinating, can bring along some unwelcome baggage in the form of their droppings. By understanding how to identify raccoon poop and the risks associated with it, we can take steps to protect our health and homes.
Remember, knowledge is power. By being informed, we can coexist with wildlife while ensuring our safety.