How Do I Get Rid Of Raccoon Latrine

How to Get Rid of Raccoons: Removal Methods

Raccoons in the wild may not pose a problem, but when they decide to hang out at your place it can be a different story. These mammals can carry canine distemper, which can be hazardous to unvaccinated dogs, and rabies, which can be transmitted to people or other animals. Moreover, their feces often contain the eggs of Baylisascaris procynis, which is a type of roundworm that can be extremely harmful to people. Getting rid of raccoons and their droppings is not always easy, but there are several methods of raccoon removal that can be employed.

How to get rid of a raccoon

Raccoons are protected under state law in most cases, and are classified as furbearers, meaning a license or permit is required to trap or hunt them. Because of this, how to kill a raccoon legally will vary from state to state, and is a job best left to professionals. As with many types of nuisance animals and pests, the best way to get rid of raccoons is to not invite them in in the first place. Removing their food sources and making your environment less friendly should also encourage any raccoons that are there to move along. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends the following methods for raccoon control.

“Do not leave pet food outside. Feed pets only as much as they will eat at once, and remove all leftovers. If necessary, place pet feeders in an enclosed area such as a porch, garage, or barn. Keep garbage bags in an entry-way [sic] or garage, and in a metal can. Run a rubber strap, rope or soft wire through the lid and attach to the can handles. To make it hard for raccoons to remove lids, hang the can one foot above the ground, or use a rack and secure the cans upright. Surround gardens with an electric fence made up of two wires attached to an insulated post, one wire four inches and the other eight inches above the ground. Install the fence before vegetables ripen. Block the openings raccoons are using to get into your attic, porch or other location. Place a temporary cover when the raccoons leave on their nightly search for food, and make a permanent seal later. To check if the raccoons have really left, sprinkle twigs, grass or flour in the opening and watch for tracks. Caution: do not permanently seal entrances without first verifying that all animals are out of the den. Especially in the spring, look and listen for animal noises.”

How to get rid of raccoon poop

Groups of raccoons pick one spot to be the communal defecation area, often referred to as a raccoon latrine. This can pose a problem if that spot happens to be located in your yard, because of the roundworm eggs often carried in raccoon poop. The roundworm’s effect on people can vary from no symptoms at all to severe issues with the eyes or nervous system. This parasite is primarily contracted when people come into contact with raccoon feces or accidentally ingest water or soil that has been contaminated by it. Raccoon feces have a strong scent, and are usually dark in color and shaped like a tube. Common latrine sites include decks and patios, attics or garages, near the base of trees and large rocks or woodpiles. A Centers for Disease Control factsheet on raccoon latrines advocates these methods for cleanup.

“Take care to avoid contaminating hands and clothes. Wear disposable gloves. Wear rubber boots that can be scrubbed or cover your shoes with disposable booties that can be thrown away, so that you do not bring eggs into your household. Wear a N95-rated respirator (available at local hardware stores) if working in a confined space to prevent accidental ingestion of eggs or other harmful materials. … [Outdoors] Feces and material contaminated with raccoon feces should be removed (using a shovel or inverted plastic bag) and burned, buried, or bagged and placed in the trash to be sent to a landfill. Most chemicals do not kill roundworm eggs, but heat will kill the eggs instantly. Treat feces-soiled decks, patios, and other surfaces with boiling water or a propane torch.** Disinfect hard, smooth surfaces (including shovel blades) with boiling water. To help further reduce the risk of possible infection, wash your hands well with soap and warm running water. Clean/launder your clothes thoroughly using hot water and detergent.”

When prevention fails

If preventative measures do not work, there are a number of traps available for raccoon removal. However, traps often require a permit, and measures must then be taken to release the animals in a safe, unpopulated area. It is usually best to call in a professional when raccoons have invaded your home. Get rid of raccoons the right way – by calling Terminix®. They offer wildlife control plans to help you remove raccoons and keep them out.

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Safe clean-up of raccoon latrines

Raccoons often leave their feces in communal sites called latrines.

Because raccoons are the primary host of Baylisascaris procyanis, a roundworm that can harm people, and the roundworm eggs may be present in raccoon feces, their latrines should be removed and cleaned up whenever they might pose a health hazard. This the task requires extreme caution.

Where might a raccoon latrine be? If not around the base of a tree or on a log, rock, stump or woodpile, a raccoon latrine may be in an attic, garage, roof, deck or patio.

Raccoon latrines in or near a dwelling should be are considered a potential health hazard.

Best left to the professionals

It is safest to hire a professional to do the cleanup, but if you must do it yourself, follow the CDC’s recommendations [PDF] for doing it as safely as possible.

  • Wear disposable gloves and either rubber boots that can be scrubbed or disposable booties that cover your shoes.
  • Wear a N95-rated respirator (available at hardware stores).
  • Use a spray bottle to mist the area to be cleaned up with water to minimize the dust that may be stirred up while cleaning up the latrine.
  • Remove feces and feces-contaminated material using a shovel or inverted plastic bag; then, burn, bury or bag it and send it to a landfill.
  • If outside, treat feces-soiled surfaces with boiling water.
  • If inside, repeatedly wipe the feces-contaminated area with a damp sponge, rinsing the sponge frequently in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Flush the water down the toilet when done.
  • Disinfect the shovel and bucket with boiling water. Place the sponge in a plastic bag and throw it away.
  • Scrub boots with hot soapy water or throw away disposable booties in a plastic bag.
  • Dispose of gloves in a plastic bag and wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water.
  • Wash clothing thoroughly with hot water and detergent, and wash hands again after putting clothing into the wash.
  • Do not bring wood on which raccoon feces have been found into the house. Burn such logs outside.

Raccoons defecating on my deck or roof

Raccoons are actually very clean animals, and will go to the bathroom in the same spot, away from where they eat and sleep. This spot is known as a “Latrine Site”. Luckily a raccoon’s commitment to a latrine site isn’t very strong, so it’s usually pretty easy to get them to choose a different one.

How to stop a raccoon from defecating in a particular spot

Move around some furniture

If the spot is on a deck or patio, you can just move around some furniture. Put a planter or a table in the spot the raccoon usually uses. Raccoons reuse the same spot because it’s habit—break the habit and they might move on.

Raccoons don’t like to walk on plastic

Because their paws are so sensitive, raccoons don’t like to walk on a double layer of plastic. Tape two painter’s sheets or garbage bags over the latrine area for a couple of weeks. That should convince the raccoon to find a new spot, and once the habit is broken you can remove the plastic.

Soak them out

If the latrine site is on a lawn or in a garden, overwater the area so that it’s wet and muddy. You can stop overwatering once the raccoons have stopped using the latrine.

A motion activated sprinkler (or a person turning the hose on them when caught in the act!) will also deter a raccoon from a latrine site. No one likes to get wet while doing Number Two!

Is raccoon feces dangerous?

Raccoons can carry the parasite Baylisascaris procyonis, or Raccoon Roundworm. It doesn’t affect raccoons, but when the eggs are ingested through raccoon feces it can cause serious symptoms in other animals, including humans. Get more information on raccoon roundworm here.

Be careful when cleaning up raccoon feces. Wear disposable gloves and a mask. If the feces are old and dried out, give them a spritz with water first to keep the dust from floating in the air. If the latrine area is solid (like a deck or rooftop) steam-cleaning will get rid of any remaining eggs. If the latrine is on a lawn or in a backyard, turn the soil or add a layer of topsoil to limit exposure. Make sure to wash your hands afterwards, and avoid touching your face while cleaning.

Remember, you have to ingest the eggs to become infected, and the risk for transmission to humans is very low.

Raccoon latrines? Not in my backyard!

If you are a paranoid hypochondriacal person with young children who lives in a suburb, you’ve come to the right/wrong place (take your pick). Because now you get to hear about Baylisascaris procyonis. What’s that, you ask? The procyon part should be the tip-off, but I suppose not that many people know that Procyon is the genus to which raccoons (Procyon loto) belong. We’re going to talk about raccoon latrines.

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Yes, raccoons have latrines. Who would be crazy or stupid enough to build a latrine for raccoons? Other raccoons. Raccoons have communal defecating sites called raccoon latrines where they deposit their feces and read the paper. Let me describe raccoon feces for you. Please. It’s no trouble. I want to. Fresh raccoon feces are tube shaped and have blunt ends (you’d think that would make their anuses slam shut, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem). Raccoon feces are usually dark colored (but the nature of the meal might influence this) and about the size of nickel or dime. They like to locate their latrines in existing structures, either natural or manmade. In cities or suburbs that means rooftops, attics, protrusions around roofs or chimneys, stumps, woodpiles, decks or on your lawn near your beautiful prized tree, especially in a big fork or crotch above the ground. You want some pictures?

Figure caption: Typical raccoon latrines found in urban/suburban environments. (A) Latrine on a chimney ledge, illustrating the climbing abilities of raccoons and their tenacity in maintaining latrines. (B) Large latrine in the crotch of an oak tree approximately 3.5 m (15 feet) above ground. The sides of the tree were visibly stained with fecal residue that rain had washed down the trunk, contaminating a child’s play area below with Baylisascaris procyonis eggs. (C) Large latrine, in use for years on a house roof, unknown to the home owner. (D) Latrine site on the ground near downed timber and rocks in a suburban yard. Note the variety of fecal materials (including seeds, crustacean shells, and human refuse), reflecting the diversity of the raccoon diet. The homogeneous-appearing fresh scat in the center is composed of digested pet food. (E) Latrine on a stump in a suburban park with plants sprouting from seeds in the scat. Granivorous birds and mammals are attracted to such locations, as are curious children. (F) Raccoon scat hidden in leaf litter in a suburban back yard, indicating how occult contamination may be.

Source: Roussere et al., «Raccoon Roundworm Eggs near Homes and Risk for Larva Migrans Disease, California Communities,» Emerging Infectious Disease, 2003 Dec

This is pretty unpleasant but of course animals have to go to the bathroom — I mean, visit the latrine — somewhere. Of course there is plenty to be paranoid about when it comes to raccoons. There are rabid raccoons, for example. And let’s face it, they are nasty creatures. We used to have them come onto the deck late at night at a place we rented at the beach years ago and if we tried to shoo them away they’d stand up on their hind legs and hiss at us. Brazen bastards. And they were all wearing masks, so I couldn’t identify them in the police line-up after they stole our garbage.

But the latrine thing isn’t just an aesthetic problem. Because raccoons are also frequently infected with round worms, the aforementioned B. procyonis. And if we ingest a lot of these eggs, we can get infected, too. And human infections with B. procyonis are very bad news. You can end up dead or with serious brain damage. Very young children are most likely to do this and several cases have been described that ended tragically. Human raccoon roundworm infection has been very rarely diagnosed — only 14 cases in 30 years, but 5 cases were fatal — but this is partly because extraordinary efforts are made to diagnose serious encephalitis when there are additional signs (e.g., certain blood tests) which suggest a parasite might be involved. How often less serious or even subclinical infection occurs we don’t know, but with raccoons in densely populated areas increasing, this is an emerging zoonosis (a disease spread from animals to humans) to keep an eye on.

Reported cases have been widely distributed geographically (California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania) and surveys in urban/suburban areas have shown that raccoon latrines are anything but rare. A recent survey in suburban Chicago near a forest preserve and a marsh found latrines in half the yards and a quarter of the latrines had B. procyonis eggs in them. The farther from the forested area the better and having a pet in your backyard was also a good thing, although I can’t imagine our arthritic ten year old Shih-Tzu being a match for one of these guys.

Not long ago we had a raccoon in our postage stamp sized paved over backyard in the middle of the city. Mrs. R. espied it and stated quite clearly it was the size of a miniature horse. I think she may have been exaggerating slightly but it’s hard to distinguish nuance when someone is screaming. I have yet to find a raccoon latrine in the backyard, but I have applied preventive measures by removing all reading material from the area (although I understand this only works for male raccoons). If I did find a latrine, I’d want to clean it out immediately and detailed instructions how to do it can be found here.

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How to clean up a raccoon latrine

Raccoons establish community latrines—sites where they repeatedly deposit fresh feces (droppings or scat) on top of old feces in a particular area in their environment. Raccoon latrines consist of piles of raccoon feces of different ages. Fresh raccoon feces are tubular in shape, with blunt ends, and about the same diameter as a nickel or dime. Generally, fresh raccoon feces are dark in color, but it depends on what the animal was eating. Seeds or nut shells may be seen in the feces. As feces age, they weather and decompose. Old feces may look like dried leaves or debris.

1. Where latrines are commonly found

Raccoons prefer sites that are flat and raised off the ground, but they also use the base of trees, and occasionally, open areas. Common sites for raccoon latrines are roofs, decks, unsealed attics, haylofts, forks of trees, fence lines, woodpiles, fallen logs, and large rocks.

2. Why clean-up is necessary

A raccoon latrine in King County is very likely to contain roundworm eggs that can be hazardous to human health. The adult stage of the raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) lives in the raccoon’s intestine and produces microscopic eggs that are shed in the raccoon’s feces. One raccoon roundworm can produce more than 100,000 eggs a day. A raccoon can pass millions of eggs in its feces everyday, depending on how many worms are in its intestines. Once deposited in the environment, the eggs develop into the infectious form in 2-4 weeks, and can survive in the soil for several years.

If these infectious eggs are inadvertently swallowed by humans, other mammals, or birds, larvae (immature stage of worms) hatch out of the eggs and move into the organs of the body. The larvae travel throughout the body and may cause serious eye disease, spinal cord or brain damage, or death. Discouraging raccoons from living around people and cleaning up raccoon latrines reduces the chance that people will get sick from raccoon roundworms.

3. Dangers of clean-up

Serious roundworm disease is rare (25 cases reported in the U.S. since 2003), but because the disease can be so severe, special precautions should be taken when cleaning up raccoon latrines. If you do not ingest developed eggs, you cannot get the disease. Taking special precautions will help reduce the chance that you will accidentally swallow eggs or contaminate other surfaces or objects. Be sure to avoid spreading eggs further when you clean up a latrine, and keep pets and children away from the latrine area until the cleanup is finished.

4. How to protect yourself when cleaning

  • Wear disposable gloves—rubber, plastic or latex.
  • Wear disposable plastic booties, or rubber boots that can be scrubbed and left outside.
  • If working in a confined area, such as an attic or crawl space, wear a N95-rated particle mask (home renovation or safety supply stores carry them) to prevent accidental ingestion of eggs or fungal spores.
  • Thoroughly launder your clothes with hot water and detergent after cleaning up the latrine.
  • Read and carefully follow the instructions below.
  • Never use a leaf-blower or vacuum cleaner to clean up a raccoon latrine—that will blow the eggs and dust up into the air.

5. Steps to clean an outdoor raccoon latrine

  • Avoid stirring up dust and debris. Lightly mist the latrine area with a little water from a spray bottle to reduce the amount of dust.
  • Use a shovel or disposable rigid scoop to gently lift feces and any other contaminated material and place it into a heavy-duty plastic garbage bag.
  • Close the plastic bag tightly with a «twist-tie» or tape, and place it inside another garbage bag («double-bagging»), discard it in your garbage collection can, and make sure that raccoons cannot get into the can.
  • Disinfect hard, smooth surfaces (including shovel blades) with boiling water. Most chemicals do not kill roundworm eggs and are not suitable for outdoor use. If the latrine is on the ground and the soil is heavily contaminated with feces, you may want to remove and discard the top 2-4″ of soil and replace it. Large quantities of removed soil are best discarded in landfill disposal sites.

6. Flaming with a propane torch

Extreme heat will kill eggs instantly. Flaming with a propane torch is effective, but could cause a fire, burn injury, or surface damage. Before flaming any latrine site, call your local fire department for details on local regulations and safety practices. Concrete pads, bricks, and metal shovels or garden implements can be flamed without damage. Do not attempt to flame surfaces that could melt or catch fire. Break up and turn over contaminated soil several times, flaming each time.

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