In this article we discuss our landscape experiment of preventing racoons from reaping the entire harvest of the plum tree, while at the same time, welcoming and sharing the flowers with the resident deer. The racoons were eating all of the plums from the tree (not sharing!) and then leaving a huge mess afterward, with nowhere then, for us to sit and read by the tree.
After each Tier of your Experiment, record your results and present your findings to your Science Classroom Teacher and share with your Classmates. First choose a critter to deal with who has been causing a bit of havoc on the land to your plants. The critters we were dealing with were racoons and deer, but we didn’t want them to go completely away as they are so beautiful and cute! There are 5 Stage Tiers to our experiment: Science Experiment: Warding off Racoons, Welcoming but only Sharing with Deer!
Tier 1: Jars of Ammonia
Place small jars of strong smelling ammonia around the plum tree to ward off the racoons. This seemed to reduce the number of visits to the Plum tree by the racoons, but did not stop from still making a huge mess, both of their pits and their scat, nor did this deter the canine visits. There was also a scatter canine (dog) who left a mess too.
Tier 2: Radio
Find a small transistor radio and place it in the area turned on. The sound of people talking and singing seems to alert them to possible interruption and danger. This again, helped a bit, yet, when it rained we had to find an umbrella for the radio, and also had to keep charging the batteries to keep it on all the time. This deterred somewhat, the racoon, but not the canines.
Tier 3: Predators – Bringing in the big guns
Determine the main predators of the critter you are dealing with, and spray the area or soak cottonballs and place near their general entrance. If you can find the synthetic scents of the predator in a local hardware store, spray the scent around the area in which you do not want the animal to eat. For racoon, we think the key predator is the Coyote, and synthetic coyote pee ought to do the trick to scare them back to another route. This apparently is not a favorite friend to canines (domestic dogs) either. We are only beginning to run this part of the experiment.
Whereas we wish to reroute them, and not hurt them, this seems a pliable stage to our experiments. And whereas also, we wish to welcome the deer, though not let them eat all of our fruits, vegetables and flowers, we are planting in 3 different areas. This is slightly to the chagrin of our neighbours who want them to go away permanently, but we love them and believe them to be Beautiful Innocent Resident Deer who are vegetarian and who provide good “clean” “scat” for the compost for our vegetables.
Area A: By the plum tree, with synthetic predator spray
Area B. By the top of the walkway, with no predator spray
Tier 4 and Area C: By the bottom entrance, with only vegetable oil and egg mixture. Apparently, deer so not like the mixture of Egg yolks, light spices, milk and vegetable oil. Giving the perimeter once every 10 days to 2 weeks, this ought to deter their olfactory responses to finding other flowers and vegetables to eat. We will see!
Tier 5: Bringing in Bear
We hope we would never come to this, and it is Synthetic Bear Pee Spray. When we are hiking we like to have Bear spray to ward off Bears should they approach you – that is a different kind of spray altogether. But if Bear approaches you and looks at you face to face, would you have the strength of will to dig through your hiking pouch and pull out the spray? You bet! But in this experiment, we are suggesting the opposite kind of Bear Spray that which wards the animals off whose predator is Bear. Apparently Bear is the main predator of dogs, a predator of racoons, and rodents and this Spray ought to definitely make them retreat.
Olfactory Senses of Deer, Racoons, Coyotees and Bears
Deer – The two species of deer found mostly in North America are the white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus and the mule deer Odocoileus hemionus. The most important sense in these – and in most animals – is olfaction – the sense of smell. The preorbital gland of the deer is about an inch in length, Wikipedia says it is “not entirely clear whether the preorbital gland secretions of North American deer emit an odor that is significant in terms of chemical communication”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preorbital_gland#North_American_deer.
Most of the time, the glands remain in the closed position. The preorbital gland is a pair of exocrine glands, trench-like slits of dark blue to black, nearly bare skin and are around the eye. Interestingly, they secrete pheromones and other chemical compunds onto twigs and branches as part of their communication system to other animals. This is most interesting whereas some people do not consider animals to be “intelligent” in the way of having abilities to communicate with one another.
The moist nose of a deer, similar to that of a dog, allows the deer to pick up the faintest of odor particles that are then drawn into the olfactory organs. A deer can detect the odor of approaching danger several hundred yards away. Their elongated noses are filled with an intricate system of millions of olfactory receptor sites (near 3 million as compared to only 5 million in human beings. Their keen sense of smell is very important for avoiding predators, identifying other deer, and identifying food sources. Their sense of smell is important for scent communication with other deer. Deer have seven glands that are used primarily for scent communication.
Racoon – They have a good sense of smell, this sometimes being used to locate food, for example when it is buried in snow. They are also known to use scent in intraspecific communication. Raccoons have an excellent sense of touch, in that they smell with their paws and nose. “The forepaws are much more sensitive than the hind paws, with four times as many sensory receptors and a larger number of CNS cells responding to ventral forepaw stimulation.“
twycrosszoo.org/S/0MCarnivor/Procyonidae/Procyon/Procyon_lotor/10PlotorDetPhy.htm Typically, they identify the food with their eyes (visually) or with their noses and hands (through olfaction), they then proceed to grasp the item with their forepaws. “After grasping the object the object is rolled between the palms”, and the little pads of the digits (the fingers). The food piece is then brought towards the mouth. Raccoons always fiddle with their food with their paws before eating it, giving it a feel and assessment before eating it. wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/0MCarnivor/Procyonidae/Procyon/Procyon_lotor/11PlotorBehFeed.htm
Coyotee – Prairie Coyote Wolves are scientifically named Canas Latrans, which means “barking dogs”. Like the deer, it is the coyote’s wet snout that keeps its olfactory response running.
Bear – One of the animals whose sense of smell is strongest of all animals is Bear. www.buzzle.com/articles/animals-with-an-amazing-sense-of-smell.html. Bears have thousands of small receptors opposed to their very large smeller (nose). Better than all other animals in smell detection, Bear has 5 times the size an olfactory region in the brain as compared to human beings.
And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here: