How to Get Rid of Raccoons (And Keep Them Out!)

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Do you wake up every morning to find out that your garbage cans have tipped over with trash scattered on the ground? Or your perfectly manicured garden destroyed because of raccoons? It can be very frustrating to deal with these fuzzy creatures as they can do a lot of damage to your property.

Aside from the damages it can cause, it can also carry several diseases. If you are not careful, you and your family may be exposed to some harmful infections. To get rid of raccoons, it is important that you understand them so you can plan your method of attack.

All About Raccoons

All About Raccoons

Physical Attributes

A raccoon may have the same size as a small dog. They can grow to at least 37 inches and can weigh around 23 lbs. Its fur color is gray to brown with a black mask surrounding its eyes. Its tail is bushy and its paws are black with 5 toes.

Habits

You won’t normally find a raccoon in the daytime as they are usually asleep. Raccoons are nocturnal, so they are more active during the night while humans are asleep. They do not hibernate like other animals during winter. However, they do still sleep a lot and they lose around half of their weight during this season. They may seem dirty as they love searching garbage bins, however, they are very clean and they even wash their food where there is a source of water.

Habitat

Because raccoons are highly adaptable, they can live and survive in different habitats and climates. They can be found in Europe, North and Central America, and Japan. Raccoons found in rural areas will make dens in caves, trees, and barns.

Since they are very adaptive, you can also find them in urban areas where they can make nests in human areas like attic, chimney, and crawl space.

Diet

They eat meat and vegetation. When it comes to meat, they prefer invertebrates more than vertebrates. They love to feed on frogs, rodents, bird eggs, fish, figs, acorns, cherries, walnuts, berries, citrus fruits, and a lot more.

Raccoons Can Carry Diseases

Humans should be cautious when dealing with a raccoon as they carry a number of diseases. They are known to carry leptospirosis, roundworms, and rabies.

Why There are Raccoons in Your Property

Why There are Raccoons in Your Property

You may be wondering why there are raccoons visiting your property every night. There are several reasons why they enjoy staying in your yard all the time. In order to get rid of raccoons, you need to understand why they are coming into your house and when they usually visit your place. Here are some of the most common reasons why they love coming into your property.

Food

Raccoons are not picky eaters and they will eat almost anything that’s in front of them. They are omnivores so they can devour both animals and plants. The smell of leftover food in the trash cans means a delicious treat for them. Since they are omnivores, raccoons living in rural areas will feed on plants like fruits, grains, acorns, and wild berries. To satiate their love for meat, they eat mice, frogs, crawfish, and squirrels. If you have garbage cans filled with leftover food or if you have crops in your property like the ones mentioned earlier, that can be the reason why they love invading your home.

Location

Whether you live in the city or in rural areas, raccoons may trespass on your house. They can enter via the chimney or go through your roofing to set up their nest in your attic. They love dark places, so if your home does not have enough lighting, don’t be surprised if you see raccoons within your property. If you have tall trees that have branches near your roof, this can be a way for them to enter your house. Those living in the countryside will most likely find shelter in bushy areas, hollow trees, a place where there is water, and rock crevices.

Shelter

Raccoons can find shelter almost anywhere as long as it feels like home to them. They are highly adaptable; as long as there’s a source of food and water, they will survive. The only places where you won’t find them are in desert regions and places at very high altitudes.

Pets

If you have pets, there’s a greater chance that raccoons may take advantage of your place. They can easily enter pet doors and munch on your pet’s food. They are also attracted to fish ponds and bird feeders. So, if you have pets, keep your pet food inside your homes and make sure that pet doors are secured during the night.

Why You Need to Get Rid of Raccoons

Why You Need to Get Rid of Raccoons

Raccoons can do more harm than just simply scattering trash around your home. There are several reasons why you need an effective repellent to keep this nasty pest away from your garden.

They Can Damage Your House

If raccoons can’t find a natural environment as their habitat, they will settle anywhere that may imitate their natural habitat. Your chimney, attic, and crawl space will be a great alternative for them because they are dark places. They will do everything just to get inside your home even if it means damaging your shingles, roof, and other structures. If they reside in your chimney, they may clogg it with the materials they use as nests.

They Can Destroy Your Crops and Garden

They might see your crops as a food source and destroy not only your crops but your entire garden as well. Raccoons like to eat apples, cherries, sweet corn, and watermelon, and if you have these crops there’s a big chance a raccoon will come munching on them.

They Destroy Chicken Coops

A raccoon can easily destroy a chicken coop just to feed. As mentioned earlier, they love to eat bird eggs and will do everything to get their hands on them. If you have chickens or ducks around your house, best to keep your pets in a secure location or make sure the chicken coops are locked during the evening. However, remember that these creatures are intelligent and they might know to get in even when the coops are locked.

They Spread Disease

Raccoons are known to carry several diseases. If you have kids at home, you need to be more careful as they can easily spread diseases to humans. Although known diseases are not deadly, they can still harm you and your family and even other animals in your house.

They Leave a Big Mess

Isn’t it annoying to wake up and see all the mess a raccoon left behind? You’ve carefully ensured that your garbage is intact, only to find out in the morning that it is all over the place. Aside from your trash, they can leave a deposit of feces in your lawn, swimming pool, porch, and ponds. Their urine and poop have a very strong smell, making your yard look and smell like a dumpster.

How to Keep Raccoons Away

How to Keep Raccoons Away

There are several methods to deal with your raccoon problem. You can block off any possible entrances, you can scare them away, remove anything that attracts them, or use natural repellents and surround your yard with anything that they hate. Whatever method you use make sure you do it humanely. Raccoons may be annoying but they still deserve to be treated with compassion.

Seal Off Your Garden and House

To get rid of raccoons, you need to prevent them from entering your yard and home. You can do this by closing off any possible entryways or setting up physical barriers around the perimeter. You could seal holes where they can fit. Check for possible points of entry like holes on your roof, foundation, or siding. Holes that are at least 3 inches wide should be sealed off as raccoons can easily scratch them open and create a way for them to enter your home. You can cover these holes with concrete, wood, or expandable foam.

Set Up Barrier Screen

Raccoons will try to get into your home with every opportunity they get, even in places you think they would never get in. Openings like a chimney, side vent, and any spaces going to your crawl space could be potential entrances for raccoons. You can set up barrier screens on these purposeful openings. Some materials you can use are mesh or plywood for your crawl space.

Put Up a Perimeter Fence

Raccoons love climbing trees and will climb on almost anything that they see. Your regular fence may not be enough to keep raccoons from climbing when they smell pet food or leftover food from the trash bags. Smaller raccoons can easily get in cracks or holes that are at least three inches. To keep them from climbing your fence, you may want to install an electric fence. This will also be beneficial in getting rid of other pests that may enter your property.

Install Motion Sensor Devices

Raccoons get scared easily and by installing motion sensor devices you can easily scare them away. A motion-activated sprinkler will do the trick. Just imagine when your water sprinkler is suddenly turned on and you are on the lawn, your initial reaction would be to run. That is the same response that a raccoon will have.

If this is your course of action, you may expect an increase in your water bill and you need to have a constant supply of water. Another disadvantage is there will be a chance of destroying your plants due to overwatering. To make motion-activated sprinklers more effective, position the sensor to the height of raccoons and set it only during the night when they are very active.

Other devices you can try are motion-activated ultrasonic and light devices. Once these devices are triggered, they can surely scare off raccoons and other animals.

Remove All Food Sources

Remove All Food Sources

If your house is filled with food sources, raccoons will invade it. Since they are not picky eaters, they will devour anything. It can be leftover food, pet food, or fallen fruits on the ground. Removing these will decrease the chance of raccoon invasion. Be sure to bring your pet’s food or feeding bowls inside during the evening and pick up any fruits or berries on the lawn. Once the food source is gone, they will look for another place to feed.

Switch to Rodent Repelling Garbage Bags

Because raccoons have been a problem to most homeowners, the invention of rodent-repelling trash bags has come into the spotlight. These garbage bags contain camphor oil, methyl salicylate, eucalyptus oil, and corn mint oil. The scent produced by these oils will deter raccoons as they hate the smell produced by the trash bag.

Since they are made of natural ingredients, they are safe for humans and in the environment. You can put leftover food or kitchen scraps inside it instead of your regular garbage bags. The scent produced from the bag will mask off the smell of food.

Startle Them With Loud Noise

If you see a raccoon trying to enter your home, you can scare them away by yelling at them or blowing a horn. This will startle them and will go running away. You can also use your speakers and play loud music.

You can also use an ultrasound animal repeller. This device releases sounds of hunting sounds or animal distress calls. There are products that emit sound and produce light to repel raccoons. You can install your ultrasound animal repeller in places where raccoons may enter.

Sounds That Scare Away Raccoons

  • Wind Chimes – The sound from wind chimes deters not only raccoons but other critters. However, raccoons may get used to their sound after a week or two, so it’s best to switch between different sounds.
  • Bioacoustics – Sounds made by animals like distress call or the sound of their natural enemy are often used in bioacoustics. You can easily download animal sounds on the internet and play them on a portable speaker at night. This will surely scare away a raccoon.
  • Radio – Tune in to radio stations that are mostly conversations. This may lead a raccoon to think that people are close by and it will not attempt to enter your yard. However, this may only work in rural areas where raccoons are not comfortable being around and hearing human voices. This may not work in urban areas where raccoons are used to hearing conversations.
  • Pats and pans – If you see a raccoon playing in your yard, make a loud banging noise with your pots and pans. This will startle the raccoon and will run away quickly away from your garden.
  • Firecrackers – The sound of firecrackers will scare away a raccoon. However, be careful when using one and never throw a lit firecracker directly at the raccoon and other people.

Use Ammonia

Raccoons have a very sensitive sense of smell, which is why they don’t poop and pee in areas where they stay and eat. Well, you don’t really have to scoop up their poop or place a container for them to pee just to use the smell to deter them.

What you can do instead is use ammonia. The pungent smell released by ammonia is similar to the smell of urine that raccoons hate. Keep in mind that ammonia cannot kill a raccoon but will only repel them. You can put ammonia on rags or leave them in possible entry points or areas where they love to stay.

Pets

How to Keep Raccoons Away pets

Although a raccoon can fight with small dogs and cats, it doesn’t stand a chance with a big dog. If you own a large dog, you might want to leave them outside during nighttime to scare a raccoon.

Secure Your Bird Feeders

Grains, seeds, and nuts attract raccoons, and if you leave some in your bird feeders, you surely will have raccoons rummaging through them. The best thing to do is to remove your bird feeders from your yard to make it less attractive, or don’t leave seeds in there in the evening. If that is not possible, you can raccoon-proof your bird feeders by changing the bird’s feeding habits. You can limit the amount of food you will put in the feeders to make sure that the birds will finish it off without leaving any leftovers for raccoons to feed on.

Clean Your Yard

Raccoons will not be interested in your yard if they won’t find any nesting sites. If you have shrubs that are overgrown, they may nest in there so do your best to regularly thin them out. If you have tall trees around your yard, trim them so they won’t be able to access your roof easily. Ensure that there is at least a gap of 5 feet between your roof and tree branches. Get rid of woodpiles, arbors, and trellises as well.

Make Sure Your Trash Cans Have Lids

You’re probably tired of cleaning up the mess the raccoon left after rummaging through your garbage cans. Of course, you can’t bring the trash cans into your home at night just to protect them from raccoons. However, you can keep raccoons from targeting your garbage cans by securing them with lids. You can replace your old trash can with a heavy and sturdy one. Find something with a lid that can be locked, so raccoons will not be able to open them.

Create a Natural Raccoon Repellent

You can take advantage of the raccoon’s sensitive sense of smell to find predators and food. One of the things they hate most is the smell of hot pepper. You can create your own hot pepper spray by mixing 1 gallon of water with 1 can of cayenne pepper powder or 1 bottle of hot pepper sauce and a few drops of dishwashing soap. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and spray around your garden, trash bins, and other places where a raccoon might nest.

This mixture is not poisonous but it can cause irritation when touched and rubbed in the eyes accidentally. Avoid spraying it on areas that your pets or family members may touch.

Other Natural Ways to Repel Raccoons

Other Natural Ways to Repel Raccoons

Onion and Pepper

Combine equal amounts of peppers and onions and boil them in water. Spray around your garden, especially in places where they might get in. Although this mixture will leave a pungent smell, it can only last for a couple of days. It’s recommended to spray the mixture at least twice a week.

Epsom Salt

This is one of the easiest raccoon deterrents as you don’t need to mix it with anything. All you have to do is scatter Epsom salt around your yard and this will keep raccoons away from entering your property. You can also put some in trash bins and other places you want to keep them out.

Using different scents as a raccoon deterrent is effective but may not last for a long time. You have to be patient in reapplying to make sure the pests won’t come running back to your house and bother you.

Peppermint Oil

This is another scent that will help keep raccoons away from your yard. You can use peppermint essential oil straight or you can find a natural repellent spray for wildlife that contains peppermint oil. Spray them in places where they tend to make a den or where they search for food.

Raccoon Eviction Fluid

You may find a raccoon eviction fluid handy if you think that a female raccoon has found residence in your roof or attic. This works by imitating the scent of a male raccoon. You can spray the fluid near the place where the female raccoon has built its nest to deter it. A nursing raccoon will flee as soon as she smells the scent of a male raccoon. You can find one in most hardware stores. They are cheap and effective raccoon deterrents.

Set up a trap

If you want to catch these fuzzy creatures to keep them from entering your homes, you can set up a trap. When setting up a trap, be sure to follow the steps below. However, find out first if there are any laws regarding trapping raccoons or another animal in your area before you proceed with this method. It would also be best if you have previous experience with trapping a raccoon before you consider doing this.

Find A Place to Put Your Trap

Identify where raccoons might make shelter and all entryways. This will help you decide where to place your live trap. It is ideal to set up several traps in different locations to get better results.

Use A Bait

You can use bait to lure a raccoon into your trap. However, be careful in choosing a bait as you don’t want to attract and trap other animals especially your cat or dog. Although a coon will eat just about anything, avoid using meat as bait. You can try commercial baits or use bread or marshmallows.

Examples of baits you can use are:

  • Whole egg
  • Corn on the cob
  • Fresh fruits
  • Honey coated vegetables
  • Canned wet cat food – just be careful not to attract your cat
  • Tinfoil – Yes, it may not be food but their curiosity will get the best of them
Setting the trap

Before you plant the traps in your preferred locations, let the raccoons get familiar with the traps and place the bait in them. This will ensure that they will still get in once you placed them in their pathways. Remember they are intelligent and may hesitate to get in your trap. But if they are acquainted with what traps look like, there’s a better chance for them to get inside.

Once they have familiarized themselves with the trap, you can now set them up. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and set every trap differently. Once you’re all set, check if the trigger and close mechanism are working and place the raccoon traps on a stable surface.

Check the trap

It is vital that you check the trap regularly as you don’t want to leave an animal inside a trap for a long period of time. Do this in the mornings as the pests are more active at night. If you have successfully trapped a raccoon, be careful as they might bite you. You might want to cover the trap with a blanket before moving the trap. This will give you protection from the raccoon in case it tries to escape or bite you. Again check the laws regarding trapping animals and relocating them, as there are laws in some state that prohibits this. You can also call professional pest control to handle the trapped raccoon.

Call A Professional

If you think your raccoon problem is too big for you to handle, you can always call your local pest control to help out. They will be able to get rid of raccoons around your house safely and effectively. They will search your house for possible food sources and entry points that you might have missed. A professional pest control company would be able to give you advice on how you can successfully deter raccoons from your house in a safe manner and how to prevent them from coming back. However, expect to spend some money when hiring a company as they can be very expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a natural deterrent for raccoons?

There are several natural deterrents for raccoons, but one of the most effective is using a bottle of cayenne pepper powder or hot sauce and mixing it with 1 teaspoon of dish soap and 1 gallon of water. Spray the solution on the area where raccoons may get in.

What is the best way to get rid of raccoons?

The best way to eliminate raccoons is by using raccoon repellents. It can be in the form of a motion-activated sensor or natural repellents like hot chili peppers or cayenne pepper.

How do you keep raccoons out of your yard?

The best way to keep raccoons out of your yard is to ensure that they won’t enter your property. You can set up an electric fence and make your yard less appealing by removing the food source around your house.

What sounds scare raccoons?

Raccoons are afraid of loud noises and anything that impersonates human voice, wind chimes, firecrackers, loud animal noises, and banging sounds of pans and pots.

Do raccoons serve a purpose?

While they can be very annoying and destructive, they do serve a purpose in the ecosystem. They help distribute seeds and keep a healthy population.

How do you bait a raccoon trap?

Leave some food on the cage trap, spread some juice leading to the trap to lure them. If you have cats, you may want to use sweet baits like marshmallows.

Conclusion

Dealing with raccoons is not easy and it may take a lot of work before they finally leave your place alone. However, it is a must that you do your best to keep this pest away from home as soon as you see signs of raccoon invasion. Whichever method you choose, whether by using repellent spray or seeking help from professional pest control, it is vital to do it with care and as humanely as possible. Once you have solved your raccoon problem, you still need to continue with your pest control to make sure they won’t come back in the future.

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