Raccoons spend the summer eating and by autumn their entire body, even their tail, develops a thick layer of fat. This fat build-up helps raccoons survive winters when food is scarce and little time can be spent foraging.
Raccoons do not hibernate. When temperatures are above 28° they will come out at night as usual; if below 28°, they stay in their dens. Raccoons are usually torpid in cold weather, and in the north, they may sleep most of the winter. By spring they weigh about half what they did in autumn. Raccoons’ fingers are extremely sensitive. They like to handle, manipulate and rub everything that interests them. Often raccoons locate food entirely by touch.
Suet: Raccoons are attracted to suet, especially in early spring and again in the fall. In the fall they are attracted to suet because this high-energy food helps build their store of body fat for the winter. Raccoons are what you might call “hit and run” eaters. They will swipe what they can get easily and run off with it. The best way to protect your suet offerings for birds from raids by raccoons is to provide a small piece of suet or pieces of corn-on-the-cob just for raccoons. Place these within easy reach, and you are likely to find your raccoon satisfied.
Houses: Raccoons can climb just about any tree or post in order to reach a birdhouse. Once they get to the house they manage to reach inside and pull out the eggs or nestlings. You can make your house predator safe by placing a 1-11/2″ thick block of wood over the entrance hole of the house. Drill a hole in the center of this block the same diameter as the entrance hole. Secure the block around the entrance hole, creating a longer entrance so the raccoon’s paws can’t reach the nest.
For houses mounted in trees, place a three-foot piece of galvanized metal around the tree. Secure with a nail, with a loose-fitting to allow the tree growth and air circulation.
Feeders: One way to keep raccoons from getting into your birdfeeder is to mount the feeder on a smooth metal fence post. A galvanized water pipe will also work. Raccoons can, however, climb untreated metal posts and pipes. A heavy coating of soft all-purpose grease should be applied. The application may need to be repeated during the year.
Other effective devices include a large conical guard made from sheet metal attached to the post below the feeder. A two-foot length of 4-5″ PVC or stove pipe around the pole under the feeder. The raccoon will not be able to get a good hold on the smooth surface. Both these will also work with houses mounted on poles.