As cute as raccoons are, they’re also one of nature’s most cunning and curious thieves. If your yard is littered with knocked-over garbage cans and debris, you may have a raccoon issue.
Because of this, we’ve made it our goal to equip you with all the information you need to get rid of raccoons in your backyard effectively.
Only a small percentage of the estimated 10,000 species of raccoons roam freely throughout the world’s buildings, according to scientists. Below is a description of these common home intruders:
- Adults often weigh between ten and thirty pounds and stand two to three feet tall at maturity (tail included)
- Dark circles around the eyes and on the brows
- Grizzled gray hair and a bushy, ringed tail
- Can run and swim at speeds of up to 15 mph.
- Located throughout the majority of the United States.
- Do not hibernate but are less active in the winter season
- More active at night
A raccoon’s life span is typically limited to three to five years, regardless of how active they are throughout the year. Approximately 50-70% of the animals in these communities are less than a year old.
Their position in the food chain aids in the fight against population growth.
The typical life cycle of a raccoon
- After a 63-day gestation cycle, raccoons give birth to a new generation in the spring. Kits, the smallest unit of a new group, often include one to four infants. For a period of six to ten months, the children live with their mother.
- During the late summer and autumn, baby raccoons are weaned, and many of them go off to make their own dens.
- Raccoons mature and begin to forage for mates in the winter and early spring. During the breeding season, males (known as boars) travel farther than females (known as sows) since mating happens just once a year.
- Tracks left by raccoons and opossums are often mistaken for one another.
- Walking on their toes, they’re clawed, and they’re flat-footed like people.
- In the Algonquin language, the phrase “one who scrapes with his hands” is translated as “a raccoon.”
Signs of presence
Raccoon activity may be detected by looking for the following cues:
- The likelihood is that a raccoon is responsible for kicking over and raiding your garbage bags on a regular basis. As a result of their nimble front paws, they’re quite good at opening a variety of things. Garbage can lids should be tightly screwed to prevent animals from accessing the contents. To deter your nocturnal guests, you may even need to use bungee cords or pest-proof lids.
- The droppings from raccoons in the water on the top steps of the shallow end of a swimming pool may be an unexpected issue for homeowners who have them in their yard. This is how animals hide their stench from nearby predators. Placing a sheet of plastic over the stairwell’s upper steps may help keep raccoons away.
- Outdoor pet bowls and bird feeders should be monitored by pet owners and bird lovers alike. Especially if the food supply is frequently replenished, the raccoon will raid any location that seems to be a source of food. Pets should be fed and the dish emptied during daytime hours only.
- To get inside your attic, the raccoon will have to gnaw its way through the shingles or fascia boards. In other words, those spots may have claw marks or perhaps an opening big enough for a tiny animal to squeeze through. Once inside, a raccoon may tear up ducting and cause other problems. When in doubt, shove newspaper into the entrance hole you’ve discovered. A raccoon or other tiny animal is most likely to blame if the newspaper is ripped up within a few days.
- Raccoons may damage certain types of crops if they find them attractive. Raccoons have a voracious appetite, as shown by gnawed and damaged ears of corn and partly devoured melons. Raccoons will attempt to get into chicken coops, so poultry producers should be on the lookout for them.
What sounds and signs do raccoons make?
Check for raccoon tracks to see whether one has been to your house. In comparison to other tiny animals, their paw prints have a unique form that distinguishes them.
A typical hind print is around 3 14 – 4 12 inches long, which means it’s considerably longer than it is wide. About three inches in length and breadth make up the reprint.
Nearly a foot will separate the fore and after tracks, showing the animal was walking. The size of these tracks is comparable to a skunk’s.
Raccoons make just a rustling noise as they move about, and that’s about it for the noises they make. Exceptions to this rule include when one raccoon cries out to another, making sounds similar to those made by an owl.
Reasons why raccoons stay on your property
Raccoons come to your house for a number of reasons due to their opportunistic nature. Assumptions range from the following:
- Your trash bins are within easy reach.
- You let pet food sit out in the open without checking on it.
- The animals on your property are easily accessible to scavengers.
- There are fish ponds in your neighborhood.
- Raccoons may nest and raise their young on your property.
- Your land has a body of water that serves as a supply of drinking water.
Fortunately, each of these problems may be addressed by making a few changes. These issues will be discussed in detail in the sections that follow.
Raccoons are clever and well-known for their propensity to scrounge for food. To be on the safe side, make sure your garbage cans, chicken coops, and your house are well-secured by taking preventative steps such as installing pest-proof doors and windows.
Remove potential raccoon attractants.
Remove any raccoon-attracting items from your yard as soon as possible. This may be accomplished in the following ways:
- Locate your waste bins with a lid and cables, or store them in a garage or shed.
- Installing an electric fence around your garden, fish ponds, and chicken coops can help keep your pets and livestock safe.
- If you have a raccoon issue within your home, you should block up any dog doors and make sure that your attic has no external access.
- Make it more difficult for raccoons to access bird feeders by bringing them in at night or hanging them on shepherd’s hooks.
- Pick up any leftover food or seeds.
Regularly clean your backyard.
Additionally, you should make sure your yard is free of food waste and human rubbish by bringing your garbage cans inside (to the garage or shed).
Remember to clean up after yourself after you’ve finished eating outside, and never leave any food out alone, whether it be human or pet food!
For those that have a compost tumbler, you’ll want to make certain that the compost is safe and can’t be accessed by unauthorized individuals. You may also want to think about moving your compost inside to eliminate the issue.
Check out this article for information about the finest indoor compost bins currently available on the market. Indoor composting is a viable option if you’re having trouble with raccoons in your attic or basement.
Raccoons are woodland creatures, and if your property is forested or secluded enough, they will construct nests and raise their families there. Avoid letting them into your house, sheds, barns, and other structures on your property by trimming your trees so that they are at least 5 feet away from the roofs.
If left to their own devices, raccoons are adept climbers and will use trees to their benefit.
It’s also a good idea to remove or relocate garden elements like trellises, arbors, and gazebos if they’re located near your home or other buildings.
Eliminate hiding spots by trimming down trees and shrubs and clearing out big patches of vegetation around your home.
Traps and other lethal removal methods
The most unpleasant method to get rid of raccoons is to use live or deadly traps, although they are excellent options if you have no other choice.
Both lethal and live raccoon traps have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s go further into each of these:
- The raccoon does not need to be killed.
- Relocating the animal(s) is not a problem.
- Setting them up and using them are both simple tasks.
- It’ll be a temporary solution. Your raccoon issue will only become worse if you don’t take permanent action.
- Curiosity-sparked pets may be harmed by live traps.
You may use a rifle, a wire trap, or poison to get rid of raccoons permanently.
Raccoons may be shot and killed quickly and humanely, with death occurring immediately after the shot is fired at them. For the reasons stated above, this is often the technique used by both hunters and homeowners.
Shooting a raccoon is probably against the law if you live in a neighborhood or city. Before doing anything, be certain you are aware of all applicable laws in your area.
- Raccoons are swiftly and painlessly eliminated using this method.
- It’s possible that this is against the law where you live.
- It’s a gory fix.
Wire traps are not suitable for yellow-bellied owners since these snares are designed to kill the raccoon by strangling. Compared to other traps that may force an animal to suffer for many days before being discovered by a homeowner or hunter, this technique is less horrific.
However, it is still a relatively rapid death when compared to other methods of pest eradication, like shooting (about 8 minutes).
Even yet, there’s a lot of debate about these devices, with some calling them “archaic and painful.” However, if the issue is serious enough, you may have little choice but to use them. Raccoons have been known to cause significant damage.
- Although not quite as gory as shooting the raccoons, it is nonetheless nasty nevertheless.
- Comparatively speaking, this trap takes a while to kill compared to others.
- Traps may be used again and over again.
- This is a contentious approach.
- Death by strangulation isn’t the most dignified method of execution.
Lastly, homeowners who want to get rid of raccoons often resort to using poison. Rodenticides may be easily used by combining them with pet food and storing it outside (where rodenticides are typically stored).
When raccoons are most active at night, make sure your pets are inside with you. According to the hypothesis, raccoons will eat the poison after visiting the pet food.
When used improperly, poisons may be crueler than snares, causing internal bleeding, rupturing the skin, or opening up open sores, as well as foaming at the mouth and other unpleasant side effects.
- The method is both inexpensive and simple to use.
- It is possible that the raccoon(s) may suffer tremendously and that it will take many days to kill them.
In general, if you’re afraid of pests or don’t want to kill them, a live trap is a better option for you. It’s a matter of personal choice since shooting, snaring, poisoning or live-trapping raccoons are all viable options for getting rid of them.
Check your local regulations on relocation or hire an expert to help if you decide to use the live trap method.
Scare away with loud noises
If capturing or killing raccoons isn’t your thing, consider frightening them away with loud noises. It’s true that frightening raccoons is a successful technique until the cunning little creatures realize there’s no damage done to them.
Although these scare techniques may work effectively in combination with preventive land and home-scaping efforts to permanently eliminate your raccoon problem, you’ll still need effective gadgets.
Motion-activated sprinklers are an excellent option since they utilize a cold spray of water to startle and irritate the raccoons without harming them. Another excellent motion-activated sprinkler alternative may be found on Amazon with the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer.
A low-cost choice with a broad detection range, day and night modes, and hundreds of good customer ratings, this one stands out.
Motion lights are another option. In order to deter raccoons from congregating in the area, these gadgets will provide the impression of human activity or that of a predator.
Solar-powered and low-cost, the PREDATORGUARD Solar Powered Predator Deterrent Light is a great choice for deterring raccoons from your yard.
The main drawback is that these gadgets may not function with raccoons who have become used to human contact and interaction. When used on wild or fearful animals, these motion lights perform best.
These lights may be a good option if you don’t live in the city or suburbs.
Build a fence
A fence may help keep out pests like raccoons, but keep in mind that they can climb just about any barrier they see fit to scale. An electric fence is the most effective way to keep raccoons out of your yard. Use a 6- and 12-inch-high electric fence with two wires.
Put a timer on the fence so that it only works at night.
Removal from the attic
The presence of raccoons in your attic creates a dangerous scenario. If they’ve given birth (which they nearly always do), it’s safe to assume there are babies in the house.
If you just capture the mother, the babies will disperse and perish inside your walls. You’d be stuck with a foul odor and a major renovation project in your house while you hunted for the deceased animals.
This may be accomplished by putting down a trap in front of your house, close to your attic’s entrance. Catching the adults will free you up to look for the babies who are almost certainly still hiding in your house.
Assemble a box with a blanket or towel inside and gently remove the infants (while using protective gloves).
As soon as you’ve exterminated the raccoon problem, close any gaps or openings that lead to your home’s outside or interior walls.
Removal from basements and crawl spaces
It’s rare — but not impossible – to discover newborns in basements and crawl spaces. Raccoon mothers prefer to raise their pups in more elevated areas (like your attic).
When the adult(s) have been removed by conventional live capturing techniques (such as those described in the preceding section), it is still prudent to inspect and double-check for any indications of young raccoons.
Remove potential nesting sites.
You’ll want to restrict access to possible den locations after you’ve removed easily accessible food supplies. In the absence of a nesting site, raccoons will move on quickly.
Yard work. It’s easy to start eradicating dens by tidying up your yard. Reduce access to your roof by removing wood heaps, thinning up overgrown vegetation, and trimming tree limbs.
Try to leave a 5-foot space between your roof and any overhanging branches if you can. You should also think about removing any trellises or arbors that make it easier to climb to the roof.
Seal off your chimney. It is recommended that you cover your chimney with a spark arrester or chimney cap since raccoons like chimneys as a nesting site. Make certain that the cap is securely fastened after installation to prevent raccoons from removing it.
Before covering the chimney hole, ensure sure no animals are inside. Removing an existing raccoon family will almost certainly require the assistance of a specialist.
Seal other possible entry points. Ensure that there aren’t any additional access points. Raccoons prefer chimneys, but they will make alternative nesting arrangements in and around your home if one is not available.
Before raccoons find any entrance spots, seal them up. This is the greatest method to prevent them from getting into your home. Use 10-gauge 1/4- or 1/3-inch galvanized metal mesh to seal up open areas under buildings like porches, decks, and garden and tool sheds.
Use a 6-inch deep trench to attach it, and then stretch the wire 12 inches out before covering it with dirt.
How to use a raccoon trap
- A raccoon trap won’t do you any good if you don’t know what the laws are in your region or state. If you want to capture and release a raccoon, you may require a permit or follow a particular procedure.
- Make sure you’ve read all of the directions that came with the trap you bought. One-way doors are common in raccoon traps, although some include mechanical spring systems that may be hazardous if put up incorrectly.
- If you’ve observed raccoons eating in the vicinity, or if you’ve identified their nest on your land, set the trap near it.
- The trap should be baited with anything you have lying about since raccoons will eat just about anything. Pet food, fruits, and nut butter of all kinds may be tried.
- Leave the trap out at night and set it up according to the directions on the trap.
- Check the trap every morning to see whether a raccoon has been captured. If you leave it for an extended period, it may suffer injury when attempting to escape or get dehydrated.
- Depending on where you live, you may be required to relocate the raccoon under state or municipal law. A reasonable rule of thumb is to keep raccoons at least 10 miles away from your home, preferably in a forest or other forested area.
DIY treatment methods
This technique isn’t advised since raccoons may get habituated to it or return to your property after the repellent wears off. With additional treatment and preventive measures, DIY repellents may help make your property less attractive to pests:
- Peppers: Raccoons, unlike humans, dislike the taste and smell of spicy peppers and will avoid having them near their meal if at all possible. You may deter these critters from raiding your garbage or damaging your plant by soaking hot peppers in water and carefully sprinkling the solution in certain places. Due to the fact that this technique is all-natural, you are free to apply the spray straight to your plants.
- Spices: For the same reason that raccoons avoid peppers, they will also avoid specific spices such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon, among other things. Make liberal use of these all-natural repellents in places where you wish to keep raccoons at bay.
- Ammonia: Infuse cotton balls with ammonia and scatter them about the property. You should utilize this technique if you have raccoons in your attic since the smell is considerably stronger inside and will drive them away much more quickly than other methods. Be cautious while using this technique to avoid breathing in ammonia from your attic or allowing your pets to come into contact with it.
- Pet fur and predator urine: Raccoons, like other animals, have natural predators that they must avoid if they want to survive. Because raccoons often engage in combat with dogs and cats, the mere sight of one will deter one. To be safe, don’t let your pets get into any kind of battle with raccoons. If they do, they may be hurt. When raccoons see their hair or urine strewn about your garbage or garden, they get nervous and less likely to stay and eat in your yard.
Safety tips during raccoon removal
Because they’re wild creatures, raccoons become frightened quickly and would do everything to defend themselves from danger – for example, you.
Be sure you understand these safety precautions before you attempt to live-trap a raccoon either outdoors or indoors:
- No fingers are allowed in the cage. Some part of your body will be bitten or scraped!
- When removing young raccoons from an indoor or outdoor setting, use long sleeves and gardening gloves to prevent skin contact. The same precautions apply when relocating a caught adult raccoon.
- Keep your distance from a raccoon in a cage. Always keep the raccoon trap at arm’s length and away from your body. As a result, the raccoon will be unable to harm you.
- Avoid using meat as a lure or bait in the traps. You don’t want to catch cats and other domesticated pets; therefore, don’t use the flesh. Instead, use a bait specifically designed for raccoons, squirrels, and other wildlife.
- Provided an emergency arises, arrange for someone to take you to the hospital as soon as possible. Immediately seek medical attention if you’ve been bitten by a raccoon or assaulted. The illnesses that wild animals may be carrying are impossible to predict.
- Make sure you’re shooting the raccoon from a safe distance if you’re going to shoot. To avoid an assault, keep your distance from a confined raccoon. Also, practice gun safety and make sure no one or anything is in the line of fire. Don’t fire until people or pets have left the area or are behind you if they are still there.
- When handling the raccoon’s corpse after it has been shot, make sure you are properly protected with safety gear and clothes. Also, get rid of it as soon as possible. Wearing a mask, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, and closed-toed shoes are all precautions you should take if you suspect a sickness. Keep in mind that illness may be spread via more than just scratches and bites.
Can raccoons be carriers of disease?
Raccoons may transmit a limited number of severe diseases to people, the most frequent of which is a deadly form of rabies that spreads rapidly. Affected fleas, ticks, and lice may spread from person to person through the body of an infected person.
The Baylisacaris procyonis roundworm egg found in raccoon droppings has been linked to the transmission of a deadly disease to humans in the past.
If a kid comes into touch with raccoon feces that contain the egg, the larvae of the roundworm may enter the child’s eyes or brain, causing blindness or even death.
Raccoons may carry a variety of diseases, including the following:
- Rabies – A raccoon bite may infect you or your pets with this virus, which is spread via the saliva of an infected animal. If not treated right away, this may be fatal for the patient. Raspberries exhibit odd behaviors such as stumbling and even self-mutilation when possessed by raccoons with psychotic tendencies. Raccoons die within three days after contracting rabies.
- Roundworm – a parasitic roundworm may be found in the feces of raccoons, and this roundworm can be inhaled or picked up via direct touch. As a result, it’s critical to keep raccoons away from your house and clean up any raccoon droppings that do happen to show up. Do not allow children or pets to come in contact with excrement.
- Canine Distemper – A raccoon may transmit canine distemper to your dog, even though it is not harmful to people. It often results in death. Distemper vaccination is recommended for dogs, and they should be kept away from wild animals. It is more probable for a raccoon infected with distemper to approach humans and seem confused or sluggish.
Raccoons, whether sick or healthy, have the potential to be violent against humans and pets. Despite their familiarity with people, these creatures are wild and will defend themselves by biting or scratching if threatened.
They may be very dangerous when raccoons feel trapped, terrified, or frightened, or if they have young around to feed on.
Call for expert assistance.
If your raccoon issue continues despite your efforts to solve it on your own, you might consider hiring expert pest control services. Also, do not approach an injured or rabid raccoon; instead, contact local animal control services.
Professionals know what they’re doing and get rid of your raccoon issue quickly and efficiently, even if it costs a lot of money. They’ll know exactly where to check for indications of nesting on your property and will be able to spot an infestation right away.
Insidious raccoons will scavenge trash cans and build a nest in your attic. You may find it difficult or even impossible to get rid of an infestation of raccoons, depending on their size and how much effort you have to put in to make your house and yard uninviting to mother nature’s thugs.
Getting rid of raccoons may be accomplished in several ways, including repairing your landscape, closing any house entryways, maintaining a clean yard and trash storage area, and using live or lethal eradication techniques.
Even though killing raccoons is the most permanent option, if you use a combination of the methods listed above to keep live raccoons away, you may be able to keep them away for good without resorting to lethal removal.
We hope our advice on raccoon removal and prevention was useful to you. We’re certain you’ll succeed as long as you’re careful and persistent.
Last update on 2023-02-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API