How Do Raccoons Get In Your House

Raccoons in the House

Raccoons are not really wild animals. They are urban animals. Raccoons are FAR more common in cities and suburbs than they are in undeveloped natural areas. Just like rats. Thus, raccoon-human encounters are very common. Raccoons are smart, curious, and agile, and they need a place to live, so they very often break into a house.

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Raccoons can live in and cause problems in many areas of the house. I’ll start with the bottom up.

Raccoons in the Basement of the House: This is not terribly common, but it can happen. Like any part of a house, a basement is a decent place to live, because it’s enclosed and protected from the elements. Even if the basement is cold and damp, it’s likely warmer and dryer than the outside, especially at night. And of course, mother raccoons want a safe place to raise their young. You can actually set traps in the basement, but you’ll have better luck trapping outside, near the entry hole. Read more about the basement.

Raccoons in the Crawl Space of a House: I’ve seen raccoons living in the crawlspace under a house many times. If a home is elevated, with a crawl space underneath, and there’s an easy opening, it’s an open invitation for raccoons, cats, opossums, and other animals to live under there, just like under a deck or shed. The key, as usual, is to find the opening(s) and seal them shut, either when the animal is out, or when it’s been trapped or removed. Read more about the crawl space.

Raccoons in the Living Space of a House: If you are unfortunate enough to have a raccoon in your home, inside the living space, such as the kitchen or living room, be careful. Raccoons aren’t necessarily aggressive, but they are relatively fearless, and they will defend themselves if necessary. It’s not common for a raccoon to get in the house, but it does happen. I’ve even heard of cases of a raccoon in the bedroom. The four most common ways are: 1) Through an open pet door — to prevent this, don’t leave tempting pet food out all the time. 2) Through an open fireplace and chimney damper, if they entered the chimney. 3) Falling or chewing through the ceiling or wall, if they were living in the attic or walls. 4) Simply through an open door or window. If a raccoon does get in your home, leave it alone! Any attempt to fight it might result in injury! Keep your pets away! Open every window and door that you can find, and let the animal find its own way out. Or call a pro off of my list, and he will be able to come get it safely, with a snare pole.

In terms of entry areas, some people want to know Do Raccoon Open Doors and Windows, and while they can, they more frequently enter buildings via roof or soffit areas, or vents. They want to get into the attic, not the living space.

Raccoons in the Walls of the House: Fairly common, especially if the mother wants a safe place to stash young. They usually enter from the attic space, and crawl down the wall. Read more about the wall.

Raccoons in the Ceiling of the House: Unless it’s the ceiling between floors, you’re just hearing raccoons walking in the attic, on the ceiling material (sheetrock). Read more about the ceiling.

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Raccoons in the Attic of the House: The home page of this site has all the information you could ever want to know regarding the safe and effective removal of raccoons from the attic of your home. They can get into the attic many different ways. One common way is raccoons climbing the downspout. This is a very easy way, like climbing a tree, for a raccoon to get onto the roof and the vulnerable areas into the attic. Read more about the attic.

Raccoons in the Roof of the House: In my experience, if a raccoon is on the roof, it’s either looking for a way to get into the attic, or it already has one. But in some cases, these animals are just exploring for food, or they have found some little nook, like an eave, to sleep under. I even found one roof that was so covered in debris — old sticks and leaves and such — that raccoons were nesting in it. Read more about the roof.

Raccoons in the Chimney of the House: A chimney is a fine place for a coon to live; it’s like a big old hollow tree. It’s usually easier to get them out of a chimney than other areas of the house, but now always, depending on the architecture of your home. Be sure to leave your damper shut, or else the raccoon(s) could crawl out, and into your living room! Read more about the chimney.

What to do if you have a raccoon in your house — There are two kinds of raccoons in a house: the ones that are in there on accident and the ones that want to make your home their home. If you have a raccoon that wandered in through the pet door or an open window, your best tactic is to open your door and then herd the animal outside. Most raccoons will be just as scared to be inside your home as you are to have them in there. Shooing the critter out with a broom probably won’t be too difficult. If, for some reason, the raccoon decides to hide in your bathroom, lodged behind your toilet, you should call a wildlife removal company to come and get it. You should never risk tangling with a raccoon. If it isn’t easily coaxed to the door, don’t try to harass it or antagonize it. The raccoon that is living in your attic is a different matter. This raccoon needs to be trapped and removed, and the home needs to be repaired. Most states require raccoon trapping to be done by a professional with a special license. Employing an expert will also ensure no babies are left behind somewhere in the building.

Actual Situation: Last night it seemed as if someone was moving around in my attic. quite scary. just in time for holloween. In any event I went out on my deck in the dark to see if some animal was walking on the roof when from behind me something swished by animal. and headed towards the stairway. The stream of light from my next door neighbor showed me that it was a RACOON. It stopped. looked and me. and scurried across the lawn and away into the backyard bushes. This morning I went up into the attic but I didn’t see anything. What do I do to keep this racoon away from my attic if he or she hasn’t moved in already. It was as big as a dog and quite frightening in the dark. Please let me know. Thank you. Sincerely, Peggy

My response: Do a full inspection of your home, especially the roof and vents and eave areas, and see if there are any openings that a raccoon could crawl through. Though they look large, raccoons can fit through deceptively small spaces. If there are openings, you might already have raccoons inside, and you must remove them. If not, secure everything before one gets inside. Actual Situation: If trees are cut back and if raccoons can climb the walls and downspouts anyway, is there anything at all that will deter them from climbing up the downspouts or climbing walls onto my roof and making holes? — Vivian

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My response: It’s pretty hard — they are very good climbers, and downspouts are no problem.

If trees are cut back and if raccoons can climb the walls and downspouts anyway, is there anything at all that will deter them from climbing up the downspouts or climbing walls onto my roof and making holes? Vivian Article topics include:
How to get rid of raccoons in the house and home.
Get raccoons out of the house and keep them out.
How to remove raccoons from inside the house.

5 Signs You Have a Raccoon in the Attic

Whether you think they’re cute or creepy, raccoons don’t belong inside your home. Yet, like other wild animals, raccoons can end up in the nooks and crannies of a house, and they can cause problems beyond damaging property.

Raccoons are considered a primary carrier of Rabies in the United States, for instance. If you want your house to be free of outdoor critters, pay attention to these signs that might mean you have a raccoon in the attic.

Sounds Like a Raccoon in the Attic

Do you ever wake up in the morning wishing the upstairs neighbors would be a little quieter—only to remember that no one lives above you? No, there likely aren’t any ghosts in your attic. However, a raccoon might be making its nest in your home in preparation for her babies. Raccoons are large animals that move very quickly. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the noise they make is very noticeable.

If a raccoon is making herself at home in your house, it might sound like a toddler running around above you. No other wild animal native to North America is capable of making a similar stomping noise. If you’re still not convinced that your phantom attic noises are that of a raccoon, listen for vocal sounds. A mama raccoon is very vocal during and after her gestation period, and her babies make noise too.

With Spring Come Raccoons

Springtime isn’t only the season of blooming flowers and warmer weather. It’s also raccoon mating season. Raccoons aren’t as likely to invade your home when they’re not busy making a family. However, come springtime, female raccoons seek out warm and dry spaces where they can safely nest. A home’s attic is a perfect nesting space. It’s worth noting that when raccoons get comfortable where they set up home, they’re not willing to leave for months. A female raccoon’s gestation period lasts about 65 days. Typically, she stays nesting with her babies for about three months after their birth, until they are no longer frail and helpless. In total, the nesting process takes about five months. That’s why you should seek out a raccoon removal Baltimore service as soon as you confirm that these creatures did indeed invade your home.

Nesting Materials

Though they are a nuisance and a safety hazard to people, raccoons are smart. They are resourceful animals who make nests out of whatever materials they find.

If you have a house guest in the form of a raccoon, you’ll eventually notice evidence of a nest. Here are some materials to look out for:

  • Leaves and twigs
  • Ripped insulation
  • Chipped wood
  • Torn fabric

Raccoons like to get comfy. Not only do they bring some nesting materials with them, but they can literally gut an area of your home in order to get the materials they need. They can easily rip up your attic’s insulation and get into any clothing or storage bins you may have there.

Extensive Damage

It doesn’t take long for a raccoon to wreak havoc on your home. In fact, if it is scared and determined, a raccoon can cause structural damage to your attic in a matter of hours. Even if the animal feels safe in its nest, it will do damage to your home. For instance, it might tear up your walls and even rip out your roof shingles. It’s not uncommon for raccoons to rip apart your home’s structural beams.

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Raccoon Scat

Finally, what is a sure sign of wildlife in a home? Animal droppings. If you suspect a raccoon is sharing your home, look around for raccoon scat in and around your home. A raccoon’s version of civilization is setting up latrines where they live. That’s right—these animals don’t just poo in random places. They designate a space for a scat pile which is usually in the corner of a structure.

Did Your House Guest Leave?

Once you’re able to successfully kick out your raccoon in the attic, the tough work begins. For tips on renovating your attic and general home improvement, come back frequently to our blog. We promise to make your handyman work less of a headache.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons Under Your House

Things You’ll Need

Lamp with bright bulb

Raccoons are strong, and if there is any sort of access to the area under your house—even if they have to pry away a loose piece of wood or tear a hole through the lattice—they will get in. Once in, they make noise, create damage, nest and defecate. Raccoons may look cute, but they carry diseases, such as roundworm and rabies, and they quickly lose their fear of people. They can be vicious when cornered. If racoons have set up house in the space beneath your home, you want to evict them.

Step 1

Check to see if there are any baby raccoons under your house. Mother raccoons often nest under a house because it is a safe and dry place. They generally give birth and raise their young from March through June. If you find a litter of baby raccoons in the space under your house, it is best to put off the eviction until they are young adults. Wait at least eight weeks. Chances are, they will leave on their own once they are grown.

Step 2

Once you are certain there are no baby raccoons under the house, take steps to get rid of the adults. Eliminate what may be attracting them. Remove cat or dog food from the yard, and do not feed your pets outside. Secure your garbage cans by strapping the lids down with bungee cords.

Step 3

Make the space uninhabitable. Place a bright light in the space under the house. Find a talk show on a portable radio, turn the volume up, and put it in the space. Leave the radio and the light on for 48 to 72 hours. Fill a few empty tin cans with rags that have been soaked in ammonia, and put these under the house, as well.

Step 4

If these steps fail to encourage the raccoons to leave, trap and remove them. Use a Havahart or similar trap to catch the raccoons. Bait the trap. After a raccoon is inside, keep a cover over the trap to calm the animal. Wear heavy gloves when moving the cage once the animal is inside. Release in the woods.

Step 5

Secure the space so no raccoons can take up residence again. Permanently close up any entry spaces they were using. Nail pieces of chicken wire over lattice to make it harder for raccoons to tear it apart.

Contact a local wildlife rescue group and ask if they can help. Talk with your neighbors before using a bright light or loud radio to flush out a raccoon. Make sure they know this is just a temporary measure.


Check the laws in your state before attempting to trap raccoons—it is illegal to relocate them in many states. Contact your humane society or animal control officer to learn the regulations in your state. Do not leave captured animals where children have access to them.

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