How Can A Raccoon Get In The Attic
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.
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 Raccoons Out of the Attic
Step One: Go in the attic and find and remove the litter of baby raccoon pups. 90% of the time, there will be young pups, even if you didn’t know that. There are usually 3-5 of them. If you can’t find them, sit very still for up to 30 minutes, until you hear them chatter. Grab them by hand (with thick leather glove) and put them in a pillow case. If mamma raccoon is nearby, she may attack.
Step Two: Catch the adult female. You have several options here. You can actually mount a trap on the entry / exit hole and then scare her out of the attic and into the trap. Or, if she sticks around in the attic to defend her pups, you can grab her with a snare pole and cage her. Or, if you get the pups and she’s not there, you can actually use the pups as live bait to trap her. NOTE: In the rare case in which there are no pups, you can trap adults in the normal manner. Here are my raccoon trapping tips.
Step Three: Once all the raccoons are out, you want to seal the entry point(s) shut, as seen below. If you don’t, new animals will move into your attic soon. The raccoons living there gave it an odor that might attract new wildlife quickly. There’s also the matter of the mess the raccoons have left behind in the attic, which often must be cleaned up.
If you want to know how to get raccoons out of the ceiling, the same sort of principles apply. If there’s no accessible attic space above the ceiling, but that’s where the baby raccoons lie, then you need to find the spot where the babies lie, by feeling for a warm area on the ceiling, and cut out a hole nearby and grab and remove the baby raccoons. Same goes for how to get raccoons out of your walls — you need to pinpoint the exact spot by listening to baby raccoon chattering, and feel for the warm spot, and cut a hole in the wall to remove the baby raccoons. For more research, you also might want to click on photos of raccoon damage in the attic, or learn some methods about how to trap raccoons.
I will now address a large number of questions and matters I’ve received over the years regarding getting rid of raccoon problems. Here are 84 reader-requested tips:
1) raccoon repellent — No such thing as an effective repellent. People try moth balls, ammonia, coyote urine, loud radio, ultrasonic sound machine, etc. They are completely ineffective and fraudulent. You can try them yourself. There is one exception though.
2) raccoon eviction fluid — This is the one repellant that works, but only on a pregnant or nursing female raccoon in the attic. It’s the scent of a male raccoon, who kills any young, so it intimidates the female into leaving the attic. It must be applied just right, and this is a hit-or-miss tactic. I don’t consider it worth trying, when you can so effectively remove the young and mother and be done for sure, no messing around.
3) raccoon feces on ur skin — If this happens, just wash it off thoroughly with soap and water. The worst thing you could do would be to lick the feces off. Raccoon Feces — How Dangerous Is It?
4) will warfarin kill a raccoon — Potentially, if in high enough dose, but not likely. This is illegal and inhumane, by the way, so please don’t attempt this.
5) will state farm homeowner’s insurance cover roof damage from raccoons — I don’t know about individual companies, and I think the result can vary based on negotiating skills. Most insurance doesn’t cover «rodent», but raccoon is not a rodent.
6) will raccoons leave on their own — They will not, at least not for a while. It takes 8-9 months for the young to grow up and set out on their own, and then the female has a new litter of raccoon pups shortly thereafter.
7) will raccoons find their way out — Of course. They know where they are going. It’s not like they’re stuck in the attic — they go in and out the entry hole to get food and water.
8) will raccoons abandon their babies — Not usually. Female raccoons are excellent mothers, and will do all they can to protect their young. Raccoons in the Attic: Are There Babies?
9) will raccoon move young to safer location — Yes. If the babies are threatened and she feels the nest is not in a safe place, she will move the young to a new, safer spot. What Should I Do About a Raccoon Nest in the Attic?
10) will raccoon come back for babies — Yes. If a raccoon is separated from her babies, she will make every effort to get back to them.
11) will noise scare a raccoon out of your attic — absolutely not. I’ve never seen (or heard of) this working.
12) will baby raccoon still chatter when it’s with mother — Yeah, a little, but the babies do tend to be quieter with mom, mostly because they are nursing at the time.
13) will antifreeze kill a raccoon — If in high enough dose, yes, but that’s a shitty way to die, and a crappy redneck ignoramus approach to solving a raccoon problem. It’d be better to shoot the animal, or better yet, trap it.
14) will a relocated raccoon find it’s way back home — Yes, unless it’s relocated far away, like at least ten miles.
15) will a raccoon return to former site after relocation — It will do its best, especially if young are left behind.
16) will a raccoon eat rat poison — Potentially. Please don’t poison raccoons in the attic or anywhere.
17) will a mother raccoon stay quiet when a baby is crying — The adults usually stay quiet in general.
18) wildlife rehabilitation and raccoon roundworm — I don’t know if you can rehab a raccoon with roundworm. I guess so.
19) wildlife myth smell raccoons baby — I don’t quite follow what is being asked here. It’s no myth that smells are important, but it is a myth that a smell is a repellent.
20) wildlife feces cleanup — Important, but should be done with proper protection.
21) why would raccoon break into basement — So it has a nice, sheltered place to live, of course!
22) why raccoons come and go in the attic — Because an attic is a great home — warm and dry — but the animal still has to go outside to get food and water.
23) why is there a raccoon on the roof — Most likely because it found shelter. It’s probably using a hole in the roof to get into the attic. Raccoon on the Roof — What to do next
24) why do raccoons make the noises they make — To call for their mother, or to convey various emotion to other raccoons — such as «get back»!
25) why do raccoons go on roofs — They are superb climbers, and they want to live on the roof or in the attic.
26) why do raccoons carry their babies — The babies can’t crawl on their own, so the mother must carry them in her mouth to move them from place to place.
27) who do i call to remove a raccoon from my attic — A licensed wildlife control professional, NOT a regular pest control company. My directory is a great resource.
28) whining noise in roof of attic — It could be a number of different animals, but it’s most likely a coon.
29) where to release raccoon — Almost anywhere ten miles from the capture site, so long as the location is legal in your state.
30) where raccoons can get in your house — Many areas: eaves, loose soffits, vents, etc.
31) where can i buy a raccoon trap — Some hardware stores like Home Depot sell them, as do many online retailers.
32) when you see a raccoon in the middle of the day — Not to worry. It’s normal for raccoons to be out and about and active during the day time. It doesn’t mean it has rabies.
33) when to release baby raccoons — If you’re a rehabber, you’re probably going to raise them to at least a year old, and if you’ve caught young yourself, they don’t stand a chance without their mamma.
34) when do racoons have babies — Usually in March, but it can vary by latitude. Earlier in the south, later up north.
35) when do raccoons give birth — As early as January or February in the south, and as late as April in the northern US.
36) when are baby raccoons most active — I’m not sure. I think, like with human babies, at random times. You might notice it more at night, because the mother is out foraging, and they cry for her.
37) what would be the best place to release a raccoon — Believe it or not, they might thrive better in a suburban setting than in the forest.
38) what type of food goes in raccoon traps — Pretty much any bait will work. It’s not the type of food or bait that is important.
39) what trap to use for trapping raccoons — I recommend a large cage trap, at least 32 inches long.
40) what trap should i set up on my roof — If you want to do a roof set, use a large cage trap, but bolt it down, and place protection underneath, or your shingles will be destroyed.
41) what to use to kill raccoons — A gun would be best. NEVER use poison. In fact, trapping and removal is better than killing.
42) what to use to keep racoons from ripping off your house vents — Bolt them in with steel! Use steel mesh, bought at a hardware store.
43) what to do with baby raccoons in a house — Remove them by hand, and use them to trap the mother, and be sure to release them all together.
44) what to do with a raccoon that has been caught — Relocate it at least ten miles from the capture site.
45) what to do with a caught raccoon — Be sure not to stick your fingers inside the cage, or you’ll get bitten. I Have a Raccoon in a Trap . Now What?
46) what to do if you have a raccoon in your house — Don’t panic. I recommend that you call a professional.
47) what to do if i encounter a raccoon out in the day — Leave it alone — it’s doing its normal thing. It most likely does NOT have rabies.
48) what to do about raccoon feces in attic — Get good gloves and a filter mask, and even a disposable suit, and clean the feces out. Fog the attic with cleaner.
49) what time does racoon get out to search for food — Usually shortly after sunset.
50) what pest control company handles raccoons — Not the normal ones, like Terminix or Orkin, but wildlife-only control professionals.
51) what kind of poison will kill a raccoon — There are several kinds, but all are illegal for use on raccoon, and it’s very inhumane to try poison.
52) what kind of food is best to bait raccoons — Marshmallows work very well, as does white bread.
53) what kind of bait to use for raccoons — Bait is probably the least important factor when it comes to effective trapping.
54) what kills raccoon scent — I like an enzyme-based cleaning product called Bac-Azap, and BioShield is good too, and a number of household cleaning products will do it.
55) what is the price for raccoon removal — This varies from company to company, so call around. But the cheapest is definitely not always the best.
56) what is the best way to remove raccoons from attic —
57) what is the best bait to catch a raccoon — Raccoons like eggs in the shell, and marshmallows look similar.
58) what is a good way to flush out a coon from a attic — Flush? I guess with either raccoon eviction fluid or an intimidating presence. Raccoon Eviction Fluid – What Is It & How Does It Work?
59) what health risk is associated with not cleaning up your attic after a raccoon has been living in your attic — Primary concern is the raccoon roundworm.
60) what happens to trapped raccoons — Depends on who traps the animal. In many states, they are euthanized. I encourage relocation.
61) what happens to the raccoon after removal — If you bring it to a shelter, it’ll be put down (killed). Some wildlife operators kill them, some relocate.
62) what happens to babies trap mother raccoon — If you trap and remove the mom and the babies are left on their own, they will most definitely starve to death.
63) what do you do with a raccoon you’ve trapped — I recommend putting the cage in your car or truck and driving the animal to a legal relocation point and releasing it — so long as you have the babies.
64) what do they do to raccoons they catch in cages — Depends on who «they» is. Some euthanize, some release.
65) what do raccoons in attic sound like — The babies make a distinctive high-pitched chattering sound.
66) what do i do if i have raccoons in my attic — I strongly recommend that you hire a professional wildlife removal company.
67) what damage can racoons do to an attic — Lots! They can destroy insulation, tear up ducts, etc. I have a link to raccoon damage pics above. Types of Damage Caused By Raccoons in the Attic
68) what can you buy to drive away raccoon in the attic — Ha! Definitely no product you can just buy and use. But you can buy the services of a professional wildlife trapper. That’s your best option.
69) what can i do if raccoon pee on me — You can rinse the pee off in the sink, and scrub with soap and water.
70) what attracts raccoons to your neighborhood or houses — Good question. Food and shelter, of course. As for which specific house a raccoon chooses to enter, it can be a bit random, but if your home has an easy way inside, that’ll increase the odds that you’ll have a raccoon in your house.
71) what are the health risk of having raccoon droppings in your attic — Leptosirosis, and more importantly, raccoon roundworm.
72) what are health hazards of raccoons living in attic — The health hazards are fairly rare. I’d be more concerned with the physical damage that they cause.
73) what animals kill raccoons — Humans. Outside of that, pretty much none. In urban habitats, they have basically no predators. Maybe a really hard-core dog could do it.
74) what animals can climb in chimneys — Squirrels and raccoons: they do it all the time! They’re both great climbers.
75) ways to prevent raccoons on roof — Cut back branches, remove anything obvious. Other than that, it might be impossible.
76) ways to get raccoons out of pipes — Pipes, you say? What kind of pipe? I guess the answer would be the same as any other place — trap and remove them near the entry source, then seal shut the entry point.
77) beach raccoon population — Raccoon populations are high in city areas, much higher than in natural areas, like forests or beaches.
78) very big animals in the attic — Sometimes even small animals can sound big, but the most common big animal in the attic is the raccoon.
79) using homeowners insurance for raccoon removal — Yes, it can be done, and many companies actually specialize in this, but I don’t know much about the process. My rates are too low to get insurance involved.
80) urine smell attic — I use a special cleaner, and I fog the attic to get rid of the urine odor.
81) urine of an adult male raccoon — You’re probably looking for eviction fluid, which can frighten the girl raccoon out of the attic.
82) trapping raccoons for fur — Yes, some fur trappers like to trap these animals for their fine fur.
83) do it yourself trapping raccoon on own — I do not recommend that you do it yourself. Too much goes wrong if you don’t have experience.
84) trappin raccoon in cage — Yes, a cage is used for trappin. It’s better than killin.
See the below email exchange for an example of the kind of thing I see again and again in wildlife control — incompetent companies and ignorant homeowners who hire bad trappers, who don’t do the job right. AN EMAIL SENT TO ME:
I am looking for any advice that you could offer on how to deal with the mess that I have been left with. Last year a couple of raccoons moved into my attic. I called a wildlife removal company and after a lot of expense I had a cage over the power vent on my roof, which was the point of entry, and no raccoons in my home. 3 raccons, a skunk, and an opossum were trapped and removed.
In June of this year I had my roof repaired, and started hearing noises in the rafters. Although I had not heard the raccoons’ voice the thumping and scratching sounded like it was a raccoon again. When I spotted him trying to hide from me it confirmed my suspicions. This time I intended to trap the animal and re-locate him myself.
I could find no entry point and fearing that something had been sealed in when my roof was repaired I called a wildlife removal service. The company that I used last year had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, so I gave them a try again. The service technician could not find an entry point either, and wanted to place traps on the ground next to my home, which is where they were placed last year.
Given that an entry point could not be found, and that they used liver sausage to bait their traps I asked him to place two baited traps in my attic. This was over a week after my roofing work was complete, so I was amazed that these animals were not going crazy. The traps were placed while I was at work and my wife who was at home told me that the traps smelled of skunk.
That night I started to hear the raccoons vocalize (loudly) almost constantly. The next morning the side was pushed out on one of my roof vents. I went into the attic and it reaked of skunk. The sheet metal from the inside of the roof vent was laying on the floor. I called the wildlife company and they agreed to replace the traps with fresh ones.
There was raccoon chatter still coming from in between the rafters. This continued almost non-stop for most of the day. The service technician replaced the traps and apologized for the smell. My wife was concerned that the raccoon was stuck because it was chattering all day. The technician explained that it was probably a young raccoon, and that sometimes they do chatter all day.
After a couple of days the chattering stopped but the traps were still empty. I placed a plastic bag over the vent as a barrier to see if anything was still going in or out. The barrier remained in-tact for a couple of days until a rain came and the wind blew it off. No sounds were heard coming from the attic, so I replaced the barrier. The barrier remained unbroken, but since no animal had been caught I requested that the traps remain for a while.
I called the wildlife company to ask about the clean up work. I was told that the technician could measure the attic when he came to pick up the traps so that an estimate could be provided for clean up. The clean up would consist of the following:
— Flea and tick treatment — a powder relatively safe to humans and pets.
— Enzyme treatment — to neutralize the feces and urine
— Insulation removal and replacement using a treated material.
When the company called my wife to verify our appointment they told her that they do not remove the feces. When the technician arrived to remove the traps he told my wife that the treatments were powders that they carried in their trucks, that he would remove feces if he saw it, and that there was no insulation that needed to be replaced. My wife told them that we would discuss this and call them back Monday. I am sure that there is insulation that has to be replaced.
For the last two days we have been killing a lot of flies in our house. Small, young flies. Going into the attic I see many small, young flies. It seems as though an infestation is under way. I’ve placed a fly trap in the attic to try and help keep them at bay until I can have someone come out to look things over.
I am afraid that the constant chattering was a raccoon in distress, and that he never left the attic, perishing between my rafters above my ceiling. I hope not, but can feces that is a couple of weeks old really support all of these flies? The attic smells a little gamey, but certainly not as rancid as I would think if there were a dead body in there.
I have to get someone out here quick, before I wind up with a full blown fly infestation. I have begun leaving messages at whatever company I can find advertising clean up and restoration services. I have called my Insurance Company to start a claim in case the clean up becomes a little more involved than spreading some powder around.
I will call back the wildlife company, but I think that this is probably more than they can handle.
I appreciate the information that you provide in your web site. While providing information to allow people to perform this task themselves, you get the point across that it is not as easy as it sounds, and allows people to make an informed choice as to whether they want to do it themselves or not.
Tom, Well first of all, the company you hired did a very lousy job, end of story. Never mind their «A+» BBB rating, I give them an F. Who were they, by the way?
The first step for any case of an animal in an attic should always be a thorough investigation inside the attic to determine the type of animal, unless it’s already known for certain by homeowner observation. If it’s found to be raccoons, then the most important step, by far, is to find and remove the baby raccoons first. YOU CANNOT JUST SET TRAPS OUTSIDE, ON THE ROOF OR GROUND, if there are raccoons in the attic — there are almost always baby raccoons inside!
So yes, what has happened in your case is that some baby raccoons have died. That’s the chattering you heard — baby raccoons starving to death. The smell may not have been all that bad, since they lost a lot of weight before dying, and they might have been young, and attic ventilation and air flow and barriers vary a great deal. Location of dead animal matters a great deal in determining presence of odor problems. In general you’re going to continue to have flies unless you find and remove the carcasses, and if maggots are big enough, get ready for a big future fly hatch. That’s what you’re getting — 28 days after animal death, there’s a boom of flies, as the the maggots from the dead bodies hatch. Raccoon feces, by the way, will not attract flies. They dry up into little petrified logs before flies find them in attics. But dead animals in attics always attract flies.
To be honest, regarding the cleanup, I probably wouldn’t say that insulation replacement is necessary. I’ve been in a couple hundred attics with raccoons, and it’s rarely warranted. But if that’s what you want, oftentimes homeowners insurance companies will pay for it in the case of raccoons, which aren’t rodents. You’ve already got the fly hatch, so after they are all hatched and make their way out, you won’t get any new flies.