Can Raccoons Swim Underwater

Raccoons & Pools

Raccoons can be pests and can spread germs to humans. It is important to keep raccoons out of your pool and watch for raccoon feces (poop) in and around your pool. Raccoon feces can sometimes contain the eggs of a worm called Baylisascaris procyonis, which can infect humans, particularly children, and cause severe neurologic illness.

Baylisascaris is a roundworm parasite that commonly infects raccoons. Raccoons infected with Baylisascaris can be found in all parts of the United States 1–13 . When people are exposed to Baylisascaris eggs they can become ill.

Baylisascaris infections in people are very rarely diagnosed. Swallowing a few Baylisascaris eggs can result in no or few symptoms. However, swallowing a large number of eggs can result in severe disease that affects the nervous system or eyes 14–17 .

The parasite is spread by swallowing Baylisascaris eggs, which are found in the feces of raccoons that are infected with Baylisascaris. People can be exposed to Baylisascaris eggs in soil, water, or on objects that have been contaminated with feces from an infected raccoon 14–17 .

Additional information on the disease can be found on the CDC Baylisascaris Website.

Although chlorine in pools will kill most germs that a raccoon could carry into the water, it does not kill Baylisascaris eggs. If raccoon feces or a dead raccoon are found in the pool:

  • Close the pool to swimmers. Then
    • Test the raccoon or its feces for Baylisascaris. If the feces or raccoon tests positive for Baylisascaris, clean the pool as described in the following sections.
    • Clean the pool as described in the following sections, if you do not want to test the raccoon feces.

  • Put on disposable gloves and collect the feces or retrieve the dead raccoon. Double bag the feces or animal in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.
  • Contact Animal Control (the local government agency in charge of animal issues) or your local health department about testing raccoon feces for Baylisascaris eggs. The only way to find out if a raccoon is infected with Baylisascaris is to test the feces.
  • If the lab test shows evidence of Baylisascaris eggs, then you need to clean your pool as described below. If the lab test is negative, you do not need to clean your pool as described below.

Because Baylisascaris eggs are particularly tough, adding chlorine to the water will not kill them. If a lab test has confirmed that the raccoon was infected with Baylisascaris or you don’t know if the raccoon was infected because the raccoon’s feces were not tested, there are two options for cleaning your pool.

*Remember to close the pool to swimmers until you have finished cleaning the pool.

  • Filter the pool for a minimum of 24 hours and then backwash the pool filter.
  • Put on disposable gloves to replace the material doing the filtering (if possible). Double bag the discarded material in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.
  • Backwash the pool filter.
  • Drain and hose down the pool.
  • Put on disposable gloves to replace the material doing the filtering (if possible). Double bag the discarded material in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards
  • Refill the pool.

Raccoons usually choose certain locations to defecate (poop) and then use those same places repeatedly. Raccoons can also be attracted to areas where humans live and play. In pools, raccoons usually defecate in the shallow areas (for example, on the steps).

Here are some tips for keeping raccoons out of your pool:

  • Cover the pool area that has been visited by raccoons.
  • Keep the fence around the pool closed.
  • Find out if anyone in your area is feeding raccoons, leaving pet food outside, leaving uncovered trash outside, or using trash cans that are not properly secured. Discourage this behavior as it could be attracting animals, particularly raccoons, to your pool.
  • Contact Animal Control (local government office in charge of animal issues) or a pest control removal service to relocate the animal.

Will a raccoon dive in my pond and eat my fish?

7 Answers

Raccoons are not afraid of water. I’ve seen a family of raccoons bathe in a decorative water structure big enough for dogs to swim in. I’ve also heard of a raccoon climbing up a ceiling to tear off a bird cage to ultimately rip open the cage and eat poor birdie.

So yes, they will jump into your pond to eat your fish.

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Raccoons will eat fish and are good swimmers, but they would rather not dive in and if there is a shallow edge where they can enter gradually, they are more likely to go in. They prefer to not go in the water and will tap the water edge, hoping that the fish will be fooled into thinking that someone is putting fish food in the pond. They will kill the koi for food, but also sometimes simply kill them for sport, leaving them uneaten on the side of the pond.

Some loose wobbly rocks around the pond are enough to discourage them. They really like to have firm footing when near water.

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I don’t know about YOUR pond, but raccoons are notorious for stealing fish out of fish ponds and eating the fish. Usually, you find a pile of scales on the bank where the Rocky Raccoon stopped for dinner.

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It really depends on the size of your pond, the location, and which fish you have. If you have a large, deep pond with either a wild type of fish, koi, or comet goldfish, you should be perfectly fine. If you have a shallow pond, and fish that are at a disadvantage such as fancy or fantail goldfish I’d be a little worried about it. Just stick with faster fish, and if that doesn’t work it always helps to have a light on by the pond to scare away any predators at night.

I had a small 500 gallon, shallow pond with small goldfish in it, and racoons ate them.

Since then in the past 5 years, I have now a 4000 gallon pond, deep, with fancy and comet goldfish, along with blue gill, minnows, and a few bottom feeders. Since getting a larger pond, I haven’t lost any fish.

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I just would like to say that I just caught a Raccoon eating out my bird feeders, so I chased it all crazy like :), and it literally took off like a bullet and launched himself (no joke at all) like 15 feet over and into the pond, next to feeders and basically did a canon ball and I think was swimming underwater to a safe place to get out because I did not see him re emerge. It was truly crazy. Yes they do jump in is my conclusion and yes they do swim under water. To hunt fish, probably not, but to get away from a crazy guy running with his arms flailing and roaring like a beast, yes. haha. True story

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We have a lot of raccoons around our area. There is a big creek with tons of fish running through our backyard. We’ve seen the raccoons wash their hands and food in the creek water, but never go into it. They wash their hands and food in water a lot, so you’ll probably see them doing that, but raccoons don’t go underwater. I don’t think they’d try to grab a fish either, because it’s not really in their diet.

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possibly yes. my friends parents have a outdoor pond with either koi fish or gold fish and they mentioned that somthing kept eating all thier fish. but other people had never had a problem with it

Do raccoons swim?

Researches have shown that raccoons can swim at an average speed of about 5 kilometers an hour, and can remain inside water for several hours. Raccoons have also been found to enter swimming pools of private buildings, and can remain in the pool without anyone noticing. It is also believed that raccoons can become very nervous inside water, and that is because their body weights can be as much as 2lbs and they don’t have find or physical features that can stabilize their body inside a flowing water.

When raccoons swim, they don’t do so intentionally, they do so in order to catch fishes or some other sea animals or they are running after a predator. Raccoons can quickly attach themselves to objects located within streams (including tree branches and rocks), can find their ways out of water easily. Raccoons originally live in deciduous forests and mountains, however, they have migrated to marshy areas and places close to coastal regions, and thus, they had to get some swimming skills in order to catch insects and sea animals in the sea and streams, especially in urban areas.

Raccoons can crawl, and stand in water, and the development of their claws even makes it easier for them to grab water animals at an incredible speed. Male raccoons are generally heavier than females, and during the spring season , both male and female raccoons can swim faster , but they hardly move near the water in the winter season- this is the season when they temporarily hibernate. Though the bodies of raccoons can vary with habitat, most of the raccoons found in urban areas do have bodies that can withstand strong water torrents, especially when they are swimming.

Raccoons can swim under water at depths of about 5 feet, their breathing mechanisms are developed in such a way that they can survive under water with little or no oxygen, for several minutes, unlike humans who can barely survive without oxygen for over 1 minute. The skin of raccoons comprises of more than 85% of fur or coat, and that makes it easier for the animal to swim even in extremely cold weather. Raccoons use their skin as extra insulator during temporary hibernating periods, and with the extra storage of fats from food ingested during the spring and summer, raccoons can easily stay with less food during winter seasons.

Raccoons can swim for a long time inside water; however, they cannot live inside water. Go back to the How to get rid of raccoons home page.

If you need raccoons help, click my Nationwide list of raccoons removal experts for a pro near you.


Posted June 10, 2010 by Full Service Aquatics

I always felt that raccoons got an unfair bad rap when it comes to ponds. Prior to any pond installation I always have a consultation with my customers and we talk about the “facts of life” when it comes to owning a pond. In that talk, concern over predators always comes up, and rightfully so. Predators can be a concern for any pond owner, especially when some people may spend a pretty penny on some fish that they do not want to see end up as a sushi lunch for some backyard predator or because most fish usually end up being regarded as family pets.
We then discuss what some of the pond predators are that occur in this particular area, the greatest predominant threat being the Great Blue Heron (which is another blog post all together); but the question of raccoons always comes up to. Although there are exceptions I really feel that the raccoon does not represent much of a threat to a properly built pond installation, but the raccoon has a bad reputation anyhow.
Here’s why I don’t think raccoons are much of a threat. Back in another life and time, I was a Park Ranger and among my duties was to be familiar with the common wildlife that people were likely to encounter in the park systems that I patrolled. Deer, coyote, fox, beaver, rabbit, black bear, chipmunks/squirrel, and raccoon were among some of the land critters I became well versed in and I had opportunity to observe and deal with raccoons often.
First of all, I like raccoons, ever since my “Ranger Rick” subscription as a kid they always held a regard from me, and they are amazing looking creatures with markings that any person would immediately commit to memory. They are very cute, somewhat shy animals, but let’s face it; raccoons are lazy!! If a raccoon has the option to work for a meal, like trying to catch a fish, or to get an easy meal, like knocking over a garbage can, they will always go for the easy money. The fact that they don’t want to work for food is my biggest reason they do not represent much of a threat to the typical fish pond.
But here are some other reasons. Raccoons are not diving or swimming animals, like otter or mink. The classic image of a raccoon working the shoreline of a stream or pond is exactly that…the shoreline, they never really want to get wet other than going for an opportunistic grab for a tasty crayfish or juicy frog that may be dwelling too close to shore. Water is not their habitat at all actually; the raccoon much prefers nesting in a tree. Also, raccoons where I live (New Jersey) have become well adapted to suburbia and have such an abundant food supply they really do not have to work for a live fish meal. The raccoon also will eat just about anything from insects to berries to road kill, going after your pondfish is simply wasted time for a raccoon.
This is not to say that it does not happen; it just doesn’t happen to a well constructed pond that often. If a raccoon does some damage it is usually occurring in the small and shallow “big box store” type of pond installation, these ponds are pretty much like setting up a sushi bar in your yard and the ease of capture is too great a temptation even for the “easy meal, no work” raccoon.
If a raccoon does hit your pond they leave some tell tale signs, the biggest being that the raccoon will eat at site, they do not take the fish to go. The raccoon will also leave behind, usually pondside, the head, tail, and backbone of the fish preferring to only eat the intestines of the fish (again the easy way to eat fish, no fish bones for theses guys)! Other predators take the entire fish with them. Raccoons may even leave behind footprints as their calling card if the gutted fish does not give it away.
So as far as predators, the concern is real, but don’t lose any sleep over raccoon worries; your bigger concern with raccoons is cleaning up the knocked over garbage can with your leftover chinese food boxes strewn around, licked clean, but strewn!

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Awesome stuff!. Thanks!

I would love to get in touch with you. my family and I have been living in the same house now for over 10 years. when we moved in there was a real problem with raccoons in the neighborhood.

so I establish ground rules with the first family of raccoons that took up residence in our backyard.
these ground rules included the words sanctuary and ok. In the first three years we grew to four families residing on our back property.

it was in the third year that are neighbours begin thanking us because the raccoons used to get into the garbage and break into their back porches that were screened in. since I have established ground rules with these families who are very smart of raccoons they know not to cause any issues or they will not get food and water every night. now 10 years in and I can snap my fingers and say certain commands to break up fights by sang sanctuary loudly and the fights immediately stop.

the new mamas bring their new kits to me every year while I’m cooking out in the evening. new mama will sit between my legs and groom herself knowing her kits will follow. this gives them a chance to sniff me smell me and realize I am trustworthy.

I would love to get in contact as I’m trying to write a paper regarding raccoons living in suburban America. unfortunately raccoons are born as carriers of rabies and therefore get a bad rap.

sadistic show in the county I live in that in the last decade less than 100 of raccoons actually ever had rabies confirmed. also unfortunate is when people call them in to be picked up and trapped because they fear rabies. 100 percent of raccoons that are Trapped are euthanized merely because they are carriers. apologies for the lack of capitalization etc but I am using a so-called smartphone and I have to use the speech mechanism because my fingers are too big for the small keys.

Hello Lou and thanks for commenting. Raccoons are amazing creatures! What a cool interaction you have going on with your families of raccoons. Feel free to contact me anytime! I can be reached through my office at 908.277.6000 or email me at [email protected] Thanks again for reaching out!

See also:  When Do Baby Raccoons Leave The Nest

About a year ago we bought a house with a small pond, maybe 200 gallons. We put a large pot of calla lilies in the center and we bought a couple of small koi and some goldfish. The raccoons have not eaten any of the fish but they have wreaked havoc on the lilies. After they managed to completely knock over the pot badly muddying the pond we gave up and removed the lilies, but now we have string algae really bad. Is there a plant we could put in our pond that the raccoons wouldn’t bother?

Hi!, Racoons can be an issue with plants and knocking them over or just plain knocking them around. On a small pond that has easy raccoon access there are not many aquatic plants I could recommend that they will not disturb, but maybe try some landscape plants along the edge of the pond. To control string algae try and upgrade your filtration and maybe go with a bigger filter and removing all aquatic plantings. Mike

So, I came home today after a week’s vacation. While I was gone, I had a pet sitter feed the goldfish in my 100-gallon pond (above ground, on my covered back porch) 2x a day. However, today I found plants ripped out of their pots and can see only 2 of my former 11 fish. I had assumed that raccoons got the fish, as I saw a raccoon on my porch once last winter, when the fish were “wintering” indoors.

Here’s my question: I found no fish remains of any kind in, near, or even far from the pond. Does this mean that the predator(s) were not raccoons? I really don’t think a great blue heron would come across my deck and up a step to my covered porch, but…

Thanks for your insight!

Hi Linda. Sorry to hear about the fish loss. If the goldfish were small enough for a raccoon to eat whole it may have been raccoon based on the mess that was made. I think heron would have been “neater” about it. I would not be surprised if a heron came onto your porch if it had enough time with no humans around. -Mike

I have video of a raccoon swimming in my pond for 20 minutes so beware

I live on a 23 acre pond in Connecticut which is heavily surrounded by woods. While I was kayaking last evening, an hour before sunset, I followed a raccoon walking along the edge of the pond at times walking in the water for 10 minutes.When a 6 to 8 inch splashed near the shore, the raccoon grabbed it and walked off with it. I was surprised. Probably the same guy who dug up snapping turtle eggs near our house a month ago.Other than these two times , have only seen it once a couple of weeks ago getting a drink form the pond. Lived here for 7 years.

Hey! I’ve had goldfish ponds for many years, and they’ve survived herons (just barely) which are the biggest problems. I don’t worry about raccoons much because my newer pond is deep in the center and has lots of hiding places. In face the fish population has more than doubled in the first year of installation. Agggh. Lately I’m seeing a whitish, slightly greasy sheen on the water’s surface. At same time there is evidence of plant destruction along the edges AND I find my floating water hydrangeas stranded in the yard. Could this be raccoon related? Have never seen this water scum before. It’s autumn, not spawning season, and even then the water doesn’t look like this. We also have occasional bears around. thanks for any insight you can give.

Sorry, I know this is a way late reply, but, spawning. -Mike

I’m thinking of building a pond (live in a rural area). I know coons will be a problem — they already are — so don’t try the “bad rap” line. They destroy bird feeders on the deck, and crap all over the deck — I swear, it’s like intentional vandalism. And they keep coming back. So about twice a year I trap them with my “live” traps, and shoot them. Boo-hoo, sniff, sniff — they will hardly become extinct, so relax. Once i remove a “family(?), usually good for a few months, but then another group inevitably fills the void, and I “clean house” again. I doubt this will save any koi I put into a pond, so will likely not have fish. But I will always need to remove the coons. Just the way it is.

Good luck with that Steve. No tears shed here for your situation.

I have a different problem with raccoons. My pond is about 10′ x 12′ x 4′ deep. I have a tall external filter with a long hose that carries water from it back into the pond. Either the raccoons knock the filter over (despite its heavy weight) and the hose gets knocked off at the joining, or they bump into and drag the hose out of and away from the pond. Either way, the filter continues to pump water, but onto the ground instead of into the pond. Three times this summer, I’ve awakened to find that my pond is empty – and that all the water has traveled downed a slope and into my neighbour’s backyard! Any suggestions as to what I can do about this?

Hi Laurie. Raccoons can cause all sorts of issues as you have found out! There are numerous deterrents that are geared toward raccoon so I’d Google some of those possibilities and choose which will work for you best. As far as the pond, try putting your pump onto something elevated (milk create, cement block) to keep it off the bottom and your pond will not drain all the way should the raccoons cause an issue again. Good luck! -Mike

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