I Bought a Bottle of Animal Repellent

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But it’s not doing a lot of animal repelling, or at least it’s not repelling my cat, Rosalind, sitting right beside the bottle.

You think it worked on my racoons, then?

Uhm, nope. The theory behind this $29.99 bottle of animal repellent is that “Essential oils deliver a smell and taste that animals naturally hate,” but I should have been leery when the very next sentence claimed it has a “No Stink Formula.”

Hmm. A smell and taste that animals hate, while simultaneously having a no-stink formula? Color me skeptical. I read the label over and over but never found the part where it says, “Doesn’t really work, but thanks for your $29.99, sucker!”

The main ingredient in this so-called animal repellent is water – fair enough, it’s a spray. The “active” – ahem ahem – ingredients in this animal repellent are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, and garlic oil, which sounds like a home remedy for a cold. Here I suspended disbelief even further because oil and water don’t mix without an emulsifier, and nowhere on the bottle did it say “Shake Well Before Using.” I looked it up and according to God – I mean Google – raccoons aren’t supposed to like peppermint, cinnamon, or garlic, and they definitely don’t know how to cook, so they apparently don’t need herbs and spices and everything nices.

Yet my animal repellent kept on not repelling.

So I tried a different animal repellent, this one in pellets, “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” but it didn’t say whose satisfaction – mine, the coons’, my cat’s, or the manufacturer’s. This repellent “triggers the natural instinct to escape/avoid and the animal simply leaves,” the gullible reader reads.

Simply leaves!? Yay! Yay! Then I read the main ingredient – “putrescent whole egg solids.” Putrescent sounds important, like it might work, so I looked it up. It means “stinky.” Okay, it means “rotting,” as in “putrid,” but same thing.

The #2 ingredient in this animal repellent is cloves, and I opened the bottle and lo and behold it smells just like a Christmas ham, sans the pineapple. I have it on good authority that Christmas hams do not repel raccoons, and science proved me right: they were most attracted to the plants with the most putrescent whole egg solids and cloves poured around them, like a French chef to a clove soufflé. Yes there is such a thing as a clove soufflé – eggs and cloves and oranges – and raccoons just love it with ketchup.

I did a bit more research and according to pbs.org, common raccoon foods include fruits, plants, nuts, berries, insects, rodents, frogs, eggs, and crayfish. Hey – back up a second. Crayfish and what? EGGS!

Mine is an impossible search for an effective raccoon repellent, though as a dedicated suburbanite I recognize that wildlife is part of the deal: raccoons, opossums, flies, joggers. But I spend a lot of money on my lawn and on my flowers, and I never intended to open a raccoon restaurant. I got rid of the fruits, the nuts, the frogs, the berries, and the crayfish from my yard – there were never any crayfish there, so that part was easy – but there’s not a lot to do about the other plants, insects and the rodents outdoors, and adding eggs to the mix just served as a further attraction.

More raccoon research was obviously required. Raccoons like water, I read, and I have a pool. Well didn’t I find out soon enough that raccoons not only like water, they like to poop in water, too. Ergo another nuisance I had to figure out how to deal with.

I researched raccoon droppings and there wasn’t an ounce of good news in what I found. Raccoon poo is full of roundworm eggs, and I don’t want my little cat Rosalind to catch roundworm eggs. They also carry diseases like leptospirosis – whatever that is – and salmonella, giardiasis – ditto what is that? – and E. coli, and can lead to anemia and meningitis, among other things, the worstest of all being rabies!

The more research I did the more I’m not finding good news about raccoons, other than a raccoon was once called a “Trash Panda” in a movie, which I find amusing. According to the online repository of all human knowledge since the beginning of time, Wikipedia, the name raccoon comes from the Powhatan word aroughcun meaning, loosely, “the one who rubs, scrubs and scratches with its hands.”

No mention of pool pooping in that etymology, so I moved on to Spanish, mapache, which comes from Nahuatl mapachitli, meaning “the one who takes everything in its hands.” Again nothing in that word on how to rid myself of the pool pooper. (As an aside I was very surprised to learn that the natives were so fixated on the little critters’ hands and not so much on the black mask that surrounds their eyes, but there aren’t a lot of native Nahuatl speakers in my neighborhood, so nobody really to argue the point with.)

According to Wikipedia here in Florida we have the “Florida raccoon,” aka the “Snowbird raccoon,” which lore has it travels down I-95 in October, and back up again in April. They’re often seen in herds, the longest-travelled with Quebec license plates and a Sun Pass. In Latin the Florida raccoon is called Procyon lotor elucus, which according to Google Translate means “Nasty Little Mammal that Soils in Your Pool.”

Bingo! Done deal. Now I knew what to research. The Florida raccoon. And you know what? They like fruits, plants, nuts, berries, insects, rodents, frogs, eggs, and crayfish; they carry leptospirosis, salmonella, giardiasis, and rabies; and they like to poop in your pool.

So I did what every enterprising South Floridian should do to keep the raccoons at bay: I bought an electric fence wire and strung it around the patio. Florida racoons do like fruits, plants, nuts, berries, insects, rodents, frogs, eggs, and crayfish, but they don’t like harmless electric shocks.

Problem solved.


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