What Do Raccoons Hate To Smell

Could repelling raccoons really be this simple?

The bane of many a Toronto tenant or homeowner is the raccoon, a creature that thrives on human garbage, upturning trash cans and ripping into their festering contents under the cover of darkness.

In New York, the menace is slightly smaller, if not more disease-ridden and far less cute: the rat. There, the millions of scurrying resident rodents chew into garbage left at the curbs and in the parks as if guests at an endless smorgasbord.

So much time and effort have been spent over the years trying to deal with these pests. Thicker garbage bags, locking bins, various extermination methods.

None has really been effective. But could the answer have been, literally, right under our noses?

Could a scent that is offensive to these vermin – and, by happy coincidence, appealing to humans – keep them away?

A New York inventor and sanitation-supply company owner appears to have the answer after infusing his garbage bags with the scents of mint, wintergreen and eucalyptus.

The bags have recently completed testing, and show that by a large measure, rats are repelled by the minty bags, but not by regular ones.

«We came up with a formulation that is a fine line, where it’s a pleasant fragrance to humans but very irritating to rats,» says Joe «Dee» Dussich, chief executive officer of JAD Corp., a company in Queens that supplies a good chunk of the garbage bags sold in and around New York.

«They have very sensitive sinuses, and the ingredients in this bag are all-natural. Some are over-the-counter nasal-passage openers.»

A side finding, Dussich says, is that the mint also appears to repulse cockroaches and, more importantly for Toronto, raccoons.

Rats are not a huge problem here, limited by cold winters and the fact that Toronto is a clean city relative to many others around the world, says Reg Ayre, manager in the city’s healthy environments program.

But everyone seems to have a story about raccoons, which seem not a bit afraid of humans or tucking into their refuse.

The potential for attracting rodents and raccoons is greater now that garbage collection in Toronto is less frequent than it once was, Ayre says.

«A bag, if it’s proved to be effective, and I’m a little skeptical about it, would be one of the many tools for controlling or eliminating infestations,» he adds.

The inventor says he got the idea when a client alerted him to a picture in a New York newspaper showing a group of children in pristine first-communion suits playing in front of a bunch of rats crawling over a pile of garbage bags. The client asked, «Can’t you come up with a bag that will kill those rats?»

Dussich said such a bag might also kill dogs or cats, or poison children. But it got him thinking.

After extensive research, he thought about a repellent bag, and came up with Repell-X.

He hired an independent lab in Colorado to test the bags, and in June it reported that rats gnawed through and ate nearly seven times more garbage from regular bags than the minty ones.

The company is not charging more for the new bags, and says 85 per cent of its clients have already switched.

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Dussich claims the bags are already making a difference. A Long Island parks department official is on record saying the bags’ «medicine-like» smell is keeping rats away in the parks.

«What will a rat go for: a bag of mu shu pork and (Kentucky Fried Chicken), or rat bait?» says Dussich. «We hope that by having this bag repel rodents, it will take the food source away from rodents, which will drive them to the bait traps.»

See also:  How To Get Rid Of Raccoons In My Backyard

Mint has been suggested as a rodent repellent since the 1950s, when the first study of its kind found that aniseed and mint – both thought to attract wild rats – were found instead to deter them, when mixed with bait.

To this day, it’s still recommended in alternative pest-control books. Environment Canada suggests planting mint to keep mice from feeding on plants and young trees.

It’s not known why these scents are noxious to rats, says Dean Percy, professor emeritus at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph. But he and his wife use cotton balls dipped in peppermint oil to drive away mice in their cabin on the Grand River near Fergus.

What is clear is rodents’ «olfactory cues are much keener than ours and so much more important in their daily lives,» says Percy, author of a textbook on rodent pathology.

Scent is so important to rodents, Percy says, that if you cut the attachments for the olfactory nerves in hamsters, for instance, males lose interest in females altogether.

Some studies suggest that compared to humans, rats are exposed to far higher concentrations of a scent, given the same exposure. This may be because the olfactory tissue makes up more than 50 per cent of a rat’s nasal cavity, compared to just 5 per cent for humans.

Percy says he’s skeptical that the bags would repel raccoons. «I’m not sure their olfactory cues are as critical as with rodents,» he says.

In any case, he adds, «If these animals, whether rats or raccoons, are really hungry, I’m not sure whether in desperation they’ll break into these garbage bags.»

Dussich is in talks to sell the bags in large warehouse stores. So far he has no distributor in Canada but would welcome one.

Perhaps the question isn’t whether this is the answer to our vermin problems but rather why someone didn’t think of it sooner.


How to Get Rid of Raccoons for Good

The Masked Bandit

The raccoon is an intelligent and dexterous animal that can prove to be a nuisance to many homes all over the world (They even can walk and traverse in unimaginable places such as a suspending wire — video below). Many people compare them to cockroaches as they are equally difficult to get rid of once there is a raccoon infestation in their homes.

Raccoons are real persistent and scare tactics usually do not work on them; they simply return the next available moment. To worsen the scenario, they are nocturnal creatures that perform their banditry activity of stealing food only at night. They can even carry deadly diseases such as the Rabies and Leptospirosis virus, which make them even more dangerous to humans (and even pets). Thus it is important to get rid of these pests before they get out of control.

Raccoon Prevention

Like the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure and the best way to get rid of raccoons is to stop them from even coming in the first place. In fact, the only way to permanently get rid of raccoons is to restrict their access to food and water in your home.

Garbage Bins — It is important to use a garbage bin with a metal lid which can be shut tight due to the heavier weight. Before going to bed every night, take out the trash and shut the bin lid tight. A raccoon can easily bypass a lid that is made of a lighter material such as plastic. If necessary, you can even use a thin rope to seal it tight.

Trash Removal — As mentioned, it is important to clear and remove the trash from the house (and out of the garden). Raccoons need to drink water to survive, so it is a must to remove any form of drinkable liquid as well. Remember to remove trash from your pet’s living area as well!

Restrict Entry Points — By sealing and covering entry points, it can serve as a deterrence to these pesky creatures. Stuff small holes with newspapers and consider investing in electric fences if the going gets tough. Raccoons are excellent climbers, so make sure you take every part of your home into consideration.

Homemade Raccoon Repellents

There are many homemade raccoon repellent ideas on the Internet that have been quite useful. A very common DIY product is to boil a mixture of peppers (e.g. jalapeño), onions and other vegetables together. It can then be used as a spray around the house, around the garbage bins and possible points of entry.

Ammonia — They can be applied or soaked onto pieces of cloth, rags or even kept in small bottles (opened of course). They are then placed around the house, such as near food sources or around the bins. You can use liquid cleaners such as Pine Sol as a replacement

See also:  Do Raccoons Swim In Pools

Vinegar — A commonly suggested vinegar is the cider vinegar. This are used similarly to ammonia and also used on food ‘traps’. Raccoons will be turned off by the taste of vinegar and may never make a return trip ever again.

Moth Balls or Crystals — Moth balls are highly toxic to small mammals and raccoons hate their smell with a passion, so make use of them as they can be purchased easily. If you have babies or small children, moth balls can be dangerous objects and you may consider using moth crystals instead.

Epsom Salts — Epsom salts not only serve as an excellent deterrence, they also make excellent fertilizers for your plants and garden. Scatter them around your bins and in your garden. If you have leftovers, you can even use them as an effective cleaning tool (such as floor tiles).

Commercial Raccoon Deterrents

There are many commercial (expensive) raccoon deterrents on the market. A common recommendation is the deployment of electric fencing (think Jurassic Park). Though it has some risks, especially if you have young children or small pets, it is an excellent deterrent tool against raccoons and other pests (not dinosaurs of course).

Another fancy gadget is an ultrasonic sound generator that produces noise to drive raccoons away as they are wary of them. These products usually emit low frequency harmless sound waves and vibrations which are highly irritating to pests. A makeshift replacement for the ultrasonic sound generator could be your old radio — you could not only drive these pests away but catch some interesting news as the same time!

Motion detecting light can be installed in the garden or areas where raccoons are likely to be found. Raccoons are nocturnal creatures that dislike light and will turn tail at the sight of light, especially sudden bright light caused by the motion detectors. Check your neighborhood hardware or security store for more information.

Pets as a Deterrence

Some homeowners suggest or even consider using pets as a deterrence and scare off raccoons. However, raccoons are seldom intimidated (long-term) by other animals and will most likely return. Some raccoons can even stand their ground against other animals especially if cornered. As mentioned, raccoons can carry diseases which can be extremely dangerous to your pets. In Richmond, it was reported that a group of vicious raccoons actually snatched house cats, leaving the owners clueless. It is likely a bunch of them can even seriously injure bigger dog breeds.

Do you hate a cockroach or raccoon infestation more?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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© 2013 Geronimo Colt


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The Examiner-1

I do not use bug killers inside the house.

Thank you for your suggestion, I do try to find natural deterrents but I do not think that would like to use borax on my stove and counter tops and then place food on them.

At the moment I am using ‘lemon & pepper spice’ and keeping my thermostat below 68 degrees to keep them at a minimum. When I do see one, I spray their underside with ‘lemon juice & dish soap’. Then I scoop them with a paper towel, crush them and throw them away.


6 years ago from Eastern Shore

The Examiner-1 — FYI — My Nana swore that sprinkling 20 Mule Team Borax around the areas in your home that have cockroaches would get rid of them as the roaches walk through the borax, it gets stuck to their legs and they carry it back to the nest and the borax will kill all those in the nest, as well. and if you have animals, borax is a natural product and is not supposed to have any effect on them, as other bug sprays and such would.

The Examiner-1

At the moment my home — luckily rented — is infested inside with cockroaches, and practically every other insect. I have not seen any raccoons here or anyplace else I have lived.

See also:  How To Get A Raccoon Out Of Your Yard

P.S. — It is only a few but I would re-read the Hub carefully for errors. Otherwise I voted this up, useful and interesting.


6 years ago from Eastern Shore

We had a raccoon climb up onto our hen house and chew through the screen of the window. Luckily we have noisy ducks that notified us before he could kill any of our chickens.

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How To: Get Rid of Raccoons

Behind that adorable masked face lies a determined forager and a potentially destructive intruder. When it comes to dealing with wild animals, there are seldom guarantees. But if you’re determine to get rid of raccoons on your property, you can do worse than start with the tips and tricks detailed here.

Sure, raccoons are sort of cute, but know this: If it feels threatened, a raccoon can be dangerous, particularly if it’s carrying a disease (e.g., rabies). Tread carefully, and remember that there are professionals trained to deal with raccoons and other creatures. Your local government most likely includes an animal control department with field operations aimed at helping residents cope with wildlife. Of course, if you’ve been frustrated by repeated incidents or feel the need to get on the case immediately, continue reading to learn how to get rid of raccoons safely and effectively, whether they’re causing trouble under your roof or strictly outdoors.

Raccoons are scavengers; if they’re hungry, even mere morsels of food left out in the open can lure them to your property. To eliminate a raccoon problem, therefore, it’s important to keep discarded food waste out of sight and to the greatest extent possible, contain or mask its odor. Purchase and use receptacles with lids that close tightly and lock into place. Additionally, consider double-bagging any trash that’s going to spend at least one night outdoors before your next scheduled garbage collection date.

Any food—even pet food—left outside can attract raccoons. If you must feed your pets outdoors, feed them only at certain times of day, and remove anything uneaten. If you and your family like to cook and/or dine al fresco, always take the time to clean up afterward. Here, it’s well worth being thorough; as a precaution, hose and wipe down your picnic or patio table at the end of a meal. For best results, use a cleaner that contains bleach, a chemical that goes a long way toward vanquishing odors. Note that bleach works so well at eliminating food odors, you might even pour some over any trash bags left outdoors in a unsecured receptacle.

While raccoons can make a real mess of your yard, strewing trash in all directions over a surprisingly broad radius, they can wreak even greater havoc indoors, endangering your family’s health and safety.

To get rid of raccoons indoors, you may be tempted to use poison. Ethics aside, this may not be the wisest course to take, because if the poison works and the animal dies, you’ll be left with a noxious odor and a mess you surely won’t enjoy cleaning up—assuming you can even find the dead raccoon and that it’s in an accessible location.

How do you make sure that raccoons get out and actually stay out? You must determine the animals’ entry point. Typically, raccoons get in through the eaves of the roof or in openings at the foundation level. Once you’ve located the access point, the next step is to make your home inhospitable.


Raccoons enjoy the dark, so a strategically placed flashlight can be a deterrent. Because they’re also put off by strange noises, playing a small radio may help keep them at bay. Finally, raccoons hate the smell of ammonia, so leave a saucer full of the stuff (or an ammonia-dipped rag) near the creatures’ entry point. Within 48 hours, thanks to one or all of the above tricks, the raccoons are likely to vacate the premises.

Once you’re certain your visitors have left the building, the final step is to seal up the access points so as to prevent return. In future weeks and months, periodically walk your home’s perimeter to check for signs of a pest presence. Likewise, remain vigilant about securing trash bags and cleaning up after outdoor meals.


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