Get Rid Of Racoons In Attic
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
- 1 How to Get Rid of Raccoons
- 2 Raccoons in the Attic — How to Get Rid of Them
- 3 How to Get Rid of Raccoons
- 4 Getting to Know Raccoons
- 5 How to Get Rid of Raccoons
- 6 How to Keep Raccoons Away (Deter)
- 7 Health Risks
There are plenty of humane ways for how to get rid of raccoons. Here are some easy ways to get rid of raccoons.
It’s no secret that raccoons are a nuisance. On the hunt for food and a place to establish their den, they can show up in your yard, your attic, your chimney, rummaging through your garbage and more. While they’re not out to destroy your home sweet home, it is important to get them out and keep them out. Here’s how to get rid of raccoons.
If you see a raccoon nosing around in your neighbor’s trash, they would probably appreciate a heads-up. However, here’s a list of things your neighbor really wants you to STOP doing.
If you don’t have a raccoon problem yet, but you’ve seen them in your area, you’ll want to start with prevention. Keep food sources out of sight, with garbage well-secured in outdoor trash cans, using a thick lid and a weight or pressure straps on top. Also, be sure your pet’s food is kept indoors. Install a tray on bird feeder polls roughly six inches below the feed to catch any dropped seed, and be sure the feeder isn’t in a location near trees that the raccoon could use to jump from to get on the feeder. Also, be sure to cut trees back to six or eight feet from your home so raccoons can’t get to your roof and make their way into the attic to form their den.
How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons?
You can even deter raccoons from coming with cayenne pepper. These masked marauders hate the smell of the spice. Add one small canister of cayenne and one bottle of hot sauce to a gallon of water, then spray the solution all over your garden plants, bushes and shrubs, and reapply after a rainfall. There are various other repellents you can use as well, like Mint-X trash bags, which are specifically designed to repel raccoons. They’re all-natural trash bags that have a mint fragrance, which raccoons dislike. Motion-activated floodlights can also serve to deter raccoons.
If you have raccoons inside your home, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out how they got in by inspecting your house thoroughly. Once you know how they’re getting in, determine if it’s a mother raccoon with young. If so, allow the babies to grow a few weeks, otherwise they will die without their mother. You can then use one-way doors to get raccoons out of attics or crawl spaces, or invest in the help of an animal control professional who can make sure that mothers and their litters are unharmed and not separated.
How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons? Try Loud Noises
If you’re just dealing with adult raccoons, you can DIY their removal by trying bright lights and loud noises (like a loud battery-operated radio in the attic or fireplace) to scare them out. Also, try placing a bowl of cider vinegar at the base of the chimney — it’s a smell raccoons find foul, so they’ll run from it. Once they’re all gone, be sure to make your home as unattractive to raccoons as possible.
Raccoons in the Attic — How to Get Rid of Them
Read the below tutorial with step-by-step photograph instructions for information about raccoons and how to get them out of an attic. It’s not always a simple task — it usually requires these 4 steps to get raccoons out of an attic:
- 1) Physical removal of the nest of baby raccoons
- 2) (Humane) trapping or exclusion of adult raccoons
- 3) Repairs to the entry points
- 4) Cleanup of raccoon feces and waste.
The following information, instructions, and tips should help you in the raccoon removal process. It is not easy, and I do not consider this a do-it-yourself task for amateurs. If you need raccoons removed from your attic in your hometown, we service over 500 USA locations! Click here to hire us in your town and check prices — updated for year 2020.
Raccoons often choose to make their home inside of people’s attics. An attic provides a safe shelter for a raccoon, and usually meets all of their living requirements: shelter from the elements, safety from predators, and oftentimes close proximity to food — such as garbage cans or pet food.
If you have a raccoon in the attic, take note of the time of year. If it is springtime, say Feb — June, then there’s a very good chance that the raccoon is actually a mother with a litter of young pups up in the attic. Female raccoons love to raise their young in a warm, safe attic. You CANNOT just trap the female outside if you don’t get the pups. They will suffer and starve to death, and then they will decay and create a large odor. And the desperate female, once relocated, will do anything to get back to the young, and possibly die in the process.
Most people first call me when they hear the noise the animals create. A large animal like a raccoon can cause quite a bit of racket climbing around and digging in the attic. A litter of young will also often squeal for their mom, making a loud noise. Some homes are less prone to sound, and the occupants learn about their raccoon problem when they physically spot the animal, a frequent occurrence with a busy mother raccoon.
Here we see the culprit — a female raccoon, on the roof near the hole in the soffit that it tore open. Raccoons have no problems climbing on to a roof, and once there, they can easily tear a hole open to gain access.
Sure enough, it crawls right inside.
Once inside the attic, I search for the adult. She usually hides down in the eaves, and I can’t catch her. Sometimes I’m able to use a snare pole and grab her and remove her, and sometimes I’m able to scare her out of the attic and into a waiting trap mounted at the hole, but sometimes she gets away and I have to use other methods.
I search until I find the litter of pups. In this case, down a column at the edge of the attic. Finding the young can often be very difficult, and it takes a lot of patience and hard work up in a hot attic. If they make noise, it’s easy. If mama racoon has stashed the baby raccoons down a wall and told them to be quiet, it can be very hard to find them, but it must be done.
I remove the young from the attic. It’s very hot in Florida attics! I carry them as their mom would, by the scruff of the neck. This keeps them quiet. Some baby raccoons can be very agressive, and will lunge and bite. Others are docile and easy. In the event that you wish to hire us, you may want to see how much does raccoon removal cost?
I set the juveniles in the back of traps, to try to catch the mom. This is the absolute best «bait» to use to trap a female raccoon. She will do anything to get to her babies, so even if she’s shy of a trap, she’ll still go in. It’s important to set this correctly. If the trap goes off, from the mother working the outside, or the baby setting it off, then the female will go crazy trying to get in, and will likely cause some damage, maybe to herself. This type of set takes a lot of experience. For more information read my raccoon trapping guide.
Sure enough, the mom raccoon enters the trap, lured in by its own baby. Even when faced with a larger animal like a human, the mother raccoon is always protective of its young first.
After I have the mom and all the babies out of the attic, I seal the entry points. This is a vital step in the process. If you leave the holes open, new wildlife will surely enter. No job is complete until all the holes are sealed shut.
I make sure to keep mom and all the young together. I then relocate them together to a nature preserve far outside the city. It may be hard for them to survive once evicted from their home, but mother raccoons are very resourcful. If the mother and babies cannot be kept together, I bring the young to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist.
Raccoons can cause quite a bit of damage when they live in an attic. Please see my raccoon attic damage page for more photos of raccoon damage. Not only do they urinate and defecate in the attic, but they can bring in a host of parasites (fleas, ticks, mites, and lice) and diseases (raccoon roundworm, leptospirosis, etc). They often tear apart ductwork, rip insulation off of pipes, gnaw on wires, and trample down the insulation, lowering its R-value effectiveness. They also tear open holes to gain access to the attic in the first place. I highly recommend attic cleanup and decontamination services if you’ve had a raccoon living in your attic.
Summary of the 7 steps to get rid of raccoons in the attic:
- Before you start, be aware that when raccoons live in your attic, it is almost always a female raccoon with a litter of babies. Be sure to remove the babies as well as the adult.
- NEVER EVER simply set a trap outside. If you catch the mother raccoon and take her away, this will leave her babies up in the attic to starve to death, and cause an odor problem for you. This is very cruel.
- If you, or a trapping company, catches the mother outside, you MUST go in the attic to get her young. If your trapper is lazy and claims there are no young, that guy is a heartless asshole.
If you have raccoons in your attic, you really should hire a professional wildlife trapper to take care of the problem. It’s not easy to get rid of raccoons in the attic. There’s no magic spray or ultrasonic sound device or any gimmick that will make them leave. They need to be trapped and removed. It’s not work for amateurs or do-it-yourselfers. Many people will just buy a trap and set it on the ground and never catch anything, or catch stray cats, opossums, and other non-target animals. Or worse, some crummy companies or so-called handy homeowners will set a trap or two on the ground, and actually catch the mom raccoon, and get rid of her — only to leave the babies up in the attic to squeal and suffer and die and then decompose and stink. Please don’t try to do this yourself or hire a cut-rate lazy trapper who won’t go into the attic and get the young. The job has to be done right! Also, keep in mind that they sometimes live in the chimney as well. Read How to Remove a Wild Animal in the Chimney. I also have a story of a particular raccoon trapping job on my raccoon in house page.
Click for my raccoon removal photo gallery.
Over 60 photographs of actual raccoon trapping and removal jobs I’ve done.
Visit my awesome opossum trapping blog!
Over 25 examples of specific raccoon control jobs I’ve done. Get ideas!
Again, the removal of raccoons in the attic is complex, because of the presence of the baby raccoons. Please treat the raccoons with kindness and respect. If you wish for us to solve your problem for you, we are professionals with a great deal of experience, who can safely, humanely, and legally remove the raccoons in your attic for you.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
Raccoons may seem cute and cuddly, but they can be nasty, sneaky, and like to carry big guns around. But generally, their primary interest is in your trash and not in saving the galaxy, so they’re far more of a nuisance than they are beneficial.
Here’s all you need to know about raccoons, how to get rid of raccoons, and keep these masked bandits from treating your home like a free buffet.
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Table of Contents
Getting to Know Raccoons
Raccoons are one of the most intelligent species you’ll run into. They understand problem solving, have a decent memory, and are masters of getting into trouble.
Some people keep them as pets, but even raised from birth, they can grow feral over the years. Their name is actually an Anglicanization of a Powhatan phrase meaning “animal that scratches with its hands”.
What do Raccoons Look Like?
Raccoons (or Procyon lotor, if you want to sound fancy) are grey critters that grow to be a foot tall, 24 to 30 inches long, and weigh 14 to 23 pounds (about the size of a large house cat).
They have five black rings on their tail, a pointy, black nosed snout, and a telltale black bandit mask-shaped marking around their eyes.
Raccoons tend to walk on all fours, but can use their front paws to perform extremely dexterous tasks.
Raccoons are native to North America, where they can be found almost anywhere, including Greenland. Recently, perhaps due to the exotic pet trade or stowaways, raccoons have begun to colonize parts of Europe and Japan. In many Slavic countries, intentional attempts have been made to introduce raccoons to the ecosystem, with some success.
When possible, raccoons prefer a nice forest with plenty of trees, water, and flora. There, they’re known for claiming abandoned burrows or nesting in hollow trees. Foraging for food, a raccoon is known to travel up to 18 miles from home.
Due to large scale deforestation, raccoons have adapted to urban and rural life. This ability to adapt to most circumstances is another reason their intelligence cannot be underestimated.
They’re a lot bolder around humans than other pests, although healthy raccoons will still be cautious and know when to make an escape. Unlike their wild kin, urban raccoons rarely stray more than a mile from their den, due to the greater amount of danger and abundance of food sources.
Where do Raccoons Nest?
While excellent diggers, raccoons prefer to make use of abandoned spaces to set up home. This includes burrows built by other critters, hollow trees, attics, and similar places.
Elevation is a safety preference, so you’re more likely to find them in trees or behind walls than in a burrow when the option is there.
What Does a Raccoon Nest Look Like?
Raccoons aren’t picky about their dens, and likewise, they’re not picky about making a nice bed. Usually, the nest is made up of long grasses, hay or other soft materials. Occasionally, a raccoon will scavenge bits of fabric to add.
The biggest danger is when a female moves into your home, as she’ll shred the insulation for bedding. Unless you’re an experienced raccoon-watcher, you likely won’t be able to tell a raccoon nest from that of other critters (squirrels, for example), although they’re not as well woven as with other species.
What do Raccoons Eat?
Raccoons enjoy a varied diet in the wild, preferring mainly protein-rich foods. They enjoy hunting birds, frogs, any type of seafood, eggs, fruit, nuts, snakes, lizards, and insects. This huge menu means they have very little trouble finding plenty of food in the wild.
In a more populated setting, these critters expand to include human food. They’ll often rifle through trash looking for scraps and will gladly eat fast food or take care of last night’s leftovers for you.
They also have a habit of raiding gardens, which can result in a lot of damage to plants. In a pinch, they’ve even been known to cause structural damage in the effort to get to your personal food supplies.
As with many other critters you’re likely to encounter at home, raccoons are nocturnal and prefer to hibernate through most of the winter. They’re more likely to sleep through the entire winter in the wild.
A raccoon will snarl when approached, but will usually back down and run unless cornered. Be warned, rabid raccoons will attack and can be easily seen during the day (although healthy urban raccoons have been known to hang out in parks during the day looking for food as well).
Breeding season comes towards the end of winter, with litters of up to six kits coming in April or May. Until they leave home, a mother raccoon is highly protective of her young and can potentially attack humans or pets that get too close.
The young become independent at around a year to 14 months old, when they leave home and form new communities (called nurseries) of four to five adults. As the lifespan for a raccoon in the wild is only about three years, this means they spend a third of their life with their mothers.
The raccoon language is surprisingly complex, with over 200 different sounds and between 12 and 15 calls. This allows them to be highly organized on a garbage raid and allow them to warn of approaching danger.
This is especially useful in urban settings, as these playful critters are known to take advantage of swimming pools, slides, and your dog’s toys to have a little late night fun. Their habit of cleaning food before eating it (either by washing or rubbing off debris) has long been one of the most endearing habits for humans who enjoy critter watching.
Wild vs Pet Raccoons
This little discourse would not be complete without mentioning pet raccoons. You should never raise a raccoon from the wild, as they pose a major health risk and can go feral with age. Many professional breeders do offer semi-domesticated kits, however.
A domestic raccoon can be a great pet for much of its life, which can be as long as 20 years. The downside is that they (much like fennecs and other exotics) can become increasingly feral in their old age, leaving many owners to abandon their pet in the wild (where it generally doesn’t survive long).
It takes a special, dedicated human to be able to raise a raccoon, and you must be very careful not to let it near its wild kin.
Because of their intelligence and general cuteness, raccoons have always been a favorite critter in folklore and mythology. Native Americans often considered them to be tricksters or important spirit animals.
The Mexicans (AKA Aztec) revered the protective qualities of raccoon mothers, considering them a symbol for a wise woman. They’ve appeared in comics, movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney’s Pocahontas, Over the Hedge, etc.), and one named Oreo was the star of his own YouTube channel (Oreo and Friends).
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
Getting rid of raccoons can be a lot tougher than many other critters due to their high intelligence and persistence. What works once might not work again, and even effective repellents might take several encounters to get the message across.
The good news is there are effective methods of getting rid of these pests and keeping them away.
In the Attic
Your attic and chimney are highly attractive spots for an expecting mother. She’ll be quite interested in the dark, dry, and safe environment. Put a stop to this by waiting for her to leave for a night’s foraging and leaving her a nasty surprise for when she returns.
Place plenty of bright lights in the space and a few radios set to loudly broadcast a talk station. Check to make sure there are no young.
You’ll need an exterminator to come and remove any kits you find ASAP. The next day, make sure she’s not in your home and begin ensuring she can’t return.
Trim away any tree branches or other means of access from the outside. You should also seal any potential entry points, as other critters might take up residence. There are barriers designed specifically for chimneys as well.
Be warned, one raccoon could be a sign of an entire nursery, and they’ll often tuck kits into wall crevices where they’re hard to spot. Don’t be afraid to hire a professional if the task seems too difficult.
In the Yard and Garden
Your yard and garden are buffet tables for the average raccoon. Not only will they get into your plants, they can also dig up your yard looking for snacks.
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You’ll want to put a fence around your garden and/or protect it with a good homemade repellent. In addition, you’ll want to treat your lawn for grubs, as raccoons love to snack on these more than any other insect.
Be warned, getting rid of insects might include losing beneficial ones as well, so use caution when attempting to use any pesticides.
By far, the best method is to use a good trap and relocate the raccoon. This can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared, so you may wish to hire a professional to trap and remove these pests.
Traps can easily be set up in your backyard and may catch other invading critters by accident.
Under the House
Again, a good trap (such as this one) is the best option if the infestation is under a porch or in a crawlspace. You’ll need to be careful not to leave the kits behind, as they’ll die without their mother and create further health risks.
As it’s dangerous to venture into a tight space where wild critters might dwell, this is an instance where hiring an exterminator or calling a local animal control department might be the best option.
Using an exclusionary device like the Tomahawk Excluder to evict the adults can be a great solution, especially if done by mid-March before the females give birth.
To place an exclusionary device, you’ll want to make sure all potential entry points (which can be as small as four inches) are sealed except for one. This is where you’ll install the exclusion device.
The raccoons can exit but not reenter, and you can seal this final opening completely once you’re sure there’s nobody left inside.
How to Remove a Raccoon (Safely)
When trapping a raccoon, it’s important that you follow some safety procedures. Pick a live trap designed specifically for raccoons or for gophers and similar-sized animals. We prefer this one but Havahart also makes good traps at a slightly higher price.
Use thick leather work gloves and thick, long-sleeved clothing when attempting to handle an occupied trap. Never put your face near the trap or allow children or pets near it.
Before picking up the trap, it is often a good idea to put a large towel over it. Not only can this often calm an animal somewhat, but it will also provide an extra barrier to protect against bites or scratches.
Hold the trap away from you when loading it onto a vehicle and take the critter at least five miles away (remember, they can travel up to 18 miles and find their way home). Use extreme caution while releasing the raccoon to avoid the risk of it attacking once loose.
Finish up by either getting rid of the towel or soaking it in bleach to destroy any bacteria.
You can make a great DIY repellent spray out of normal household spices and water. Just mix with water, put in a spray bottle, and squirt it on your plants and the nearby ground. Not only will the smell put them off, but certain items (such as cayenne pepper) can be sprinkled around your trash can to irritate their paws when they try to get too close.
Keep in mind, repellent sprays like this can also irritate your pets and need to be applied every few days (and right after it rains) to remain effective.
Epsom salts are another great choice of repellent. Raccoons don’t like the smell, and it’s beneficial to your garden. Just remember rain can wash the salts away, so they need to be reapplied.
Oddly enough, one of the easiest repellents to use on an infestation is a couple rags soaked in ammonia.
This chemical is what gives urine its smell, and tossing a rag full of it into their nest while the owner’s out foraging will often convince these fastidious critters that their nest has been soiled and there’s a good chance they’ll abandon it and move elsewhere.
Why You Should NEVER Kill a Raccoon
While it might seem like a good idea to use kill traps or poison, this is the worst possible solution for a raccoon problem.
Raccoons (and bats) are highly susceptible to rabies. This deadly disease can continue to thrive in a corpse for an incredibly long time, making a dead raccoon even more dangerous than a live one.
How to Keep Raccoons Away (Deter)
There are several methods that can help deter raccoons from visiting your property, many of which also work on other critters. These methods can be broken down into barriers and deterrents.
The first line of defense is to have a good fence. Installing a fence around your yard or garden that extends at least two feet underground can prevent a wide variety of digging critters from gaining entry. Chicken wire makes a great fence for the garden, and the wire can also be used to create a roof, preventing flying and climbing critters from gaining access.
Build a small vertical enclosure to keep your can in and give it a chicken wire roof. This can keep most critters out. A sturdy can with a tight fitting lid can also be protected with a large stone or cinder block on top, but make sure it can’t be easily toppled over.
Be warned that raccoons are excellent climbers, so the smoother your wall, the less chance they’ll simply scale it. Be sure to also trim any overhanging branches they might use to cross over a fence.
A good deterrent will scare away numerous critters. Naturally, the downside to using most deterrents against a raccoon is that they quickly realize the scare tactic is nothing more than that. Motion-activated devices, such as sprinklers (here’s a good one), lights, and radios do have some limited effect, as do predator urine granules.
A much better deterrent is to simply deprive them of things that make your yard look hospitable. Keep it clear of trash and pet food. Avoid leaving a source of water.
An outdoor dog is also a good deterrent, but be careful not to let the dog come into physical contact with the raccoon to avoid health risks.
Raccoons can present a number of health risks to you and your pets. These risks make it dangerous to try and handle a wild raccoon. The following are the most common transmittable threats.
This disease doesn’t affect humans, but can be fatal in pets. Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, and a discharge from the nose and eyes. Both cats and dogs have a variant they’re most vulnerable to, but it can affect other critters as well.
Transmitted through urine by infected critters which may show no symptoms, leptospirosis can survive for weeks, infecting soil and water. This infection can create symptoms within four weeks of exposure.
As the symptoms can easily be mistaken for other illnesses, it isn’t easily self-diagnosed. A person suffering from leptospirosis mayu seemingly recover after three weeks, whether or not the infection is actually gone.
In cases where it remains, the person is at risk of a second phase. The second phase is far more severe and can lead to meningitis or failure of the liver or kidneys.
Raccoons are one of the common critters most susceptible to rabies. While there’s only been one recorded death from raccoon-transmitted rabies, this disease is almost always fatal if you wait for symptoms to show.
Signs of a rabid raccoon include aggressiveness, disorientation, unusual sounds, and excessive drool or foaming at the mouth.
Efforts have been made to vaccinate raccoons and other high-risk species using treated bait, but there’s no way of knowing whether that bandit digging in your trash is vaccinated.
These parasites breed in the intestines. A number of different medical conditions can arise from a roundworm infection, such as ascariasis and trichinosis. Each type of infection varies a bit in symptoms, and sometimes people feel no symptoms at all.
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Salmonella is a bacteria that can be found in undercooked meat and poultry. An infection (known as salmonellosis) affects the intestinal tract.
Most people experience no symptoms during an infection, but some may experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, chills, vomiting, headache, bloody stool, nausea, or fever within 8 to 72 hours of exposure.
The symptoms tend to go away after a few days Salmonellosis is usually diagnosed under the umbrella name of gastroenteritis (AKA stomach flu) and is rarely serious. Those with compromised immune systems may have more severe reactions that will require medical attention.