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what kind of hardware cloth to buy?

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Is there a better gauge or size I should buy in hardware cloth?   Something tried to get in the coop last night, it looks like dog paw  prints and it made a hole in the chicken wire but we have possums and  racoons around lately too.  Everything is closed today but if the chick  makes it through tonight I'm going to buy some hardware cloth tomorrow.   I want to make sure I get the right type.   Let me know what will work  best.  Thanks.
A:I used both 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch...anything larger than that a small  racoon or possum can get their tiny hands through...and mama coon will  tell baby coon to do exactly that and then they grasp the curious  chicken and pull pieces of it through the openings...usually starting  with the tail feathers.
Until you can get to the store I'd use plywood, barbed wire, plastic  sheeting...anything to plug the hole cause they'll more than likely be  back the second night to finish the job. Maybe rig something up that  rings bells or tin cans with pennies in them to alert you to what is  going on?
I then knitted the wire ends together with the wire the hardware cloth  comes wrapped in so the critters can't find any opening...your coop may  now be on the "cruise by every night to see what's on the menu" trail.
A:I wouldn't use anything larger than a 1/2" on the hardware cloth as  anything larger than that and critters can fit their paws through to  grab your flock.  When I built my very first coop, I used a combination  of the 1/4" (for ventilation windows inside the coop) and 1/2" for the  run.  From reading here, I knew chicken wire wasn't all the strong or  predator proof, so I avoided it right off the bat.  In all the time I've  had chickens, I've never had an issue with a predator breaking in...   However, my neighbors across the way from us and that use chicken wire  have had repeat visitors.
A:I like 1/2" hardware cloth in the heaviest gauge they have.  The 1/2" is  small enough to keep out raccoon paws, the smallest of the weasels and  rats.  The weave is close enough to also keep the stronger animals from  getting a grip with their jaws.  If you go down to 1/4", it usually  comes in a finer gauge wire.  It does keep out mice, but I don't worry  about that on my coop windows and vents.
We usually attach it with wood screws and washers.  Some people use screws through a strip of wood.
A:For what it's worth I'd second the heavy gauge 1/2" wire for the reason  WoodlandWoman mentioned.  I had outdoor rabbit hutches for many years  and lost two of my best when a loose dog ripped right through 1/4"  wire.  Dog was a neighbor's 75-80lb German Shepherd so a pretty strong  animal, but if one can do it...  Course that all depends on how  protected your coop area is but just something to keep in mind.