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Why Do Raccoons Invade Fish Ponds?
Raccoons are scavengers and natural hunters, so in the wild, they usually go for bigger animals like fish. But smaller items such as plants and insects aren’t bad, either. If you have a fish pond or an outdoor aquarium, and the raccoons think there is a good source of food present, they will likely try to get at it.
The main reason you don’t want them in your pond is that they have the potential to threaten your fish. While they don’t predate on fish most of the time, preferring insects, frogs, and crayfish, if they are hungry, they’ll see your pond as an easy fish buffet. Also, raccoons can spread diseases and parasites to your fish.
Along with your fish, raccoons may eat your plants. They’re mostly attracted to flowering plants, seeds, and berries, but again, these things eat anything! So, if you want to protect your fish and plants, here are seven ways you can keep raccoons out of your pond.
1. Install an Electric Fence
The most popular method on this list is to install an electric fence around the perimeter of your pond. Copper wires are placed on top of the ground, surrounding the fish pond. The wires are attached to a high-voltage source that shocks when touched by raccoons or other animals. If it is properly maintained and kept in working order, an electric barrier can provide effective protection from raccoons for years.
If you’re worried about hurting the innocent raccoons, you can replace the current with a lower voltage. Consult with an electrician before doing any work on your own, however.
2. Use a Scarecrow
Using a scarecrow to keep away raccoons is another popular method among hobbyists. Using sticks, you can make one yourself, spray paint it black or dark brown with reflective eyes/teeth. Attach lighting fixtures so that it shines brightly at night. Any time you see raccoons climbing over your fence and approaching your pond, you can turn on the scarecrow to frighten them off.
3. Train a Dog
Dogs are great hunting companions with strong protective instincts. However, before adopting a dog just for this purpose, consider if he has been trained to do anything other than bark and eat. Many dogs will be of no use as hunters, but you could always teach him to bark and run in the direction of the pond when he sees raccoons approaching.
4. Make a Trap
We don’t recommend this method except in cases of one or two pesky individuals who keep returning to your pond. Many states consider these animals pests due to the damage they cause, so it is legal for you to humanely trap them and relocate them somewhere else (far away from your fish). However, if there are dozens of them roaming around your residence, then just trapping a few may not do much good since more raccoons will come in their place.
To trap a raccoon, locate a good place to put the trap. Since they like to climb, you might want to set it up on top of your wooden fence surrounding the pond. This will prevent them from getting near the water and fish. You can also use traps with live bait, but raccoons tend not to get caught by these types of lures as quickly.
5. Cover Your Pond
A simple way to keep raccoons out of your fish pond is by covering the surface with something that they cannot climb on top of. A tarp will do the trick, or even a layer of hay (so long as it’s not dirty). The only problem here is that you need to replace this layer every couple of weeks.
Otherwise, the bottom will get wet and start to rot after some time. Just make sure whatever you use can withstand heavy rains for months at a time. Also, remember that this method does nothing to prevent them from getting in through the fence surrounding your pond, so you must use additional means if other methods have failed.
Another similar method involves using a mesh net on top that stretches across the pond. This would keep animals from getting in, but you still need to worry about other holes in the fence around your pond.
6. Use Sprinklers
Though raccoons are excellent swimmers, they do not like being sprayed. Any time they approach your pond, you can turn on the sprinkler to scare them away. The effectiveness of this method may vary depending on how far away they are from the water (or if anything is blocking their path). Some people prefer to use this method in addition to others since it also helps keep the fish healthy and safe from parasites.
It’s worth noting that sometimes raccoons have a particular food source that attracts many of them over to one location. In this case, it might be impossible for you to eliminate every single raccoon unless you chase them off completely with some type of device or chemical repellant (like pepper/tear gas).
7. Don’t Attract Attention
Raccoons can smell food from miles away. They may not have sensed the fish underwater in your pond, but they could very well have smelled the garbage can you didn’t close properly. This attracts them in great numbers to your vicinity, and after a while, they will discover the pond full of delicious fish.
To keep raccoons at bay, you need to eliminate any food odor around your house and pond. You must not let raccoons smell anything they could eat, including your trash and garbage (don’t ever leave them out at night). Raccoons are also known to attack small dogs, cats, or other animals that have been left out on their own during the night. To avoid attracting these pests, you should bring all pets in before it gets dark.
If All Else Fails
In extreme cases, these tips won’t be enough to evict your unwanted visitor. If you live in an area where hundreds of raccoons are roaming, it is unlikely that even the strongest measures will help. If this is your situation, then you need to look into professional solutions.
There are also products available that can keep these animals away. If you need to get rid of them, there are sprays and other chemical repellents. These will eliminate the smell of your garbage, so they do not keep coming back for more. They work best if you spray around the outer walls of your home or on any additional holes that may have been dug by raccoons in the ground (if you have a pet/livestock pen).
Note: Always check with local authorities before using a chemical product near an active wildlife area (especially if people populate it). This may contaminate ponds, rivers, and lakes, making it difficult for fish to survive in certain regions.
Raccoons are excellent climbers, and if they find a way into your pond, it can be challenging to get them out. It’s not worth the risk of losing your pets, fish, or any smaller animals that may have been affected by these pests. Use one of the methods above to keep raccoons away from your property. You will save yourself time and money spent on feeding wild animal populations.
If you do not want to invest in professional help or chemical repellents, try some of the tips listed above. If this alone does not work, consider hiring a local expert who has dealt with raccoon problems before. This is especially useful if you live in a rural area where the population density of raccoons is very high.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels