Who To Call To Get Rid Of Raccoons
What to do about raccoons
From a raccoon’s point of view, humans make excellent neighbors. After all, raccoons don’t know that our luscious vegetable gardens, uncapped chimneys and full birdfeeders aren’t there just for them. And when these clever critters take advantage of the food and shelter we (usually unintentionally) provide, they often get into trouble.
Requests for help with problem raccoons bring in a lot of money for “nuisance” wildlife control companies. We have a more effective, inexpensive, and humane solution: Start with tolerance, learn how the problems begin, and practice prevention. Here’s how.
Are you sure it’s a raccoon?
Before you do anything, make sure you’re dealing with a raccoon (and not your neighbor’s dog).
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
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.
How To Get Rid of Raccoons
- Cage Trapping: For certain types of outdoor raccoon problems, trapping and removal is a good option. But it not always easy.
- Exclusion: If raccoons are getting in your attic or walls, or under a shed or deck, you must find the entry areas and seal them shut.
- Prevention: Keep away food sources like pet food or bird seed. Keep your garbage cans secure. A good fence can keep them at bay.
- Repellents: Do mothballs, ammonia, fox or coyote urine, or sound machines repel raccoons? No — these tactics do not alter raccoon behavior.
- In the Attic: Raccoons in the attic must be dealt with in a very careful, specific way, because there will be baby raccoons. Read about raccoons in the attic.
Read below for much more detail. You may be able to solve your raccoon problem yourself. If you need to hire professional help, you may want to find out what we typically charge for raccoon removal. Pro help is most relevant if you are unable to effectively or legally trap and relocate animals, or if you have a difficult case. If you need raccoon removal in your hometown, we service over 500 USA locations! Click here to hire us in your town and check our prices — updated for year 2020.
Raccoon Info: Raccoons are usually classified as a pest species due to their habits of living in human dwellings. The most common complaints include the following:
- Raccoons living in the attic
- Raccoons living in the chimney
- Tipping over garbage cans
- Stealing pet food or bird seed
- Sick, potentially rabid raccoon
- Presence is alarming dogs/pets
After you read the below information, in the event that you wish to hire a raccoon removal company, you may want to see how much does raccoon removal cost? With example prices for different raccoon situations.
How to Get rid of them: The primary approaches are trapping, prevention, or repellents, as outlined and discussed below in detail.
Trapping: Trapping is always an option for wildlife removal. However, it’s not always so cut and dry. Much of the time, simple trapping does not solve the problem. The majority of cases of do-it-yourself raccoon trapping have gone awry. It’s common to catch the wrong animal — a stray cat, a skunk, or opossum, or the wrong raccoon. You want your raccoon problem to go away — if the coon is tipping your garbage can, pooping in your pool, killing your ornamental fish or birds, or whatever. But if you trap, you want to be sure to get the right animal, in the right way, and do it legally. It must be done correctly, with the right type of trap — one at least 12x12x32 to hold raccoons, and sturdy steel or solid-wall. Raccoons are very strong and crafty and have a way of breaking out of traps. Novices just get so many things wrong. It took me years of trapping to learn to always get it right. So many little factors go into successful trapping. For more information read my raccoon trapping guide. You have to be conscious of the safety and welfare of the animal, and relocate it at least ten miles away, in an acceptable location. It’s probably against the law for you to trap and relocate raccoons if you are not licensed — it’s illegal in most states. A properly licensed trapper, who knows wildlife and has experience, is vaccinated against rabies, and who can do it safely and legally, is the best option.
Raccoons in the Attic: PLEASE do not try to trap and remove if you have raccoons in the attic. Nine times out of ten, there’s baby raccoons up there! If you trap and remove the mother, you will have a BIG PROBLEM on your hands, and you will likely cause further house damage, noise, suffering of cute little raccoons, and a terrible odor as the babies die and decompose. Click here for my special guide on How to Get Raccoons Out of an Attic, the most comprehensive guide to attic raccoon removal on the web. This is not a job for homeowners! Call a pro!
Prevention: Now here’s something anyone can do. Secure your garbage can and strap the lid down with bungee cords. If you want to get rid of raccoons in your yard, don’t leave out pet food. Lock your doggie-doors. If you want to get rid of raccoons in your house, make sure your house is secure, with no holes or openings into the attic. If they are getting under the house or under the deck, you can install an exclusion barrier of steel mesh. And remove whatever is attracting the raccoons — if they’re pooping in the pool, put a board with spikes on the steps. If they’re tearing their way into your screened porch to swipe at your pet bird, bring the bird inside! Common sense.
Top 10 Tips for How to Get Rid of Raccoons:
- If the raccoons are in your attic, inspect your house to identify the entry points.
- When raccoons live in your attic or any part of your house, it is almost always a female raccoon with a litter of babies. Be sure to remove the babies as well as the adult.
- You can sometimes intimidate a female and it will leave on its own with the young. Accomplish this via physical harassment and the use of raccoon eviction fluid.
- Remove the litter of baby raccoons by hand, place in a pillow case, and use them as «live bait» to lure the mother into a cage trap, in the back of a trap with a divider mechanism.
- When trapping, use a large sturdy steel cage trap, at least 12″x12″x32″. Always set the trap in the shade, to prevent overheating. Make sure the trap is on a solid, level surface.
- Bait is not terribly important. Location of trap, and a sturdy set with proper tension matters more. However, avoid meat-based baits to prevent the capture of stray cats. Use marshmallows.
- If a raccoon is tipping over your garbage cans, either bring the cans indoors, or strap the lids down with bungee cords.
- If a raccoon is eating pet food or bird seed, you will need to temporarily remove these attractants from the outdoors for a period of weeks, until the raccoon gives up.
- If a raccoon is pooping in a swimming pool or trampling a garden, a physical deterrent, such as a board with nails pointing up, fencing, water sprayer, or shock track can keep them away.
- If it is legal for you to trap raccoons, and relocate them in your state, bring them at least ten miles away from the capture site to prevent them from returning.
RACCOON BEHAVIOR: Raccoons are talented animals, and very well-adapted to live in almost any setting with ample food and water sources — including urban and suburban areas. Raccoons have a variety of skills that allow them to exhibit a variety of behaviors, most revolving around the basics: foraging for food and seeking shelter. Regarding the former, raccoons are omnivores, and opportunistic. They will eat from garbage cans (which they open the lids of or tip over) and dumpsters (which they sometimes get stuck in), and they will often steal pet food. Dog or cat food left outside is pretty much an open invitation to a raccoon, as the animal has no fear of any dog or cat, or oftentimes, human. If the pet food is indoors, the crafty raccoon will still get to it — they will rip open a screen to get inside the patio where the food is laid out, and will often find the food storage, and break into that as well. I’ve frequently observed raccoons entering pet doors and eating the pet food inside the house. In one case, raccoons were entering the pet door, going through the kitchen, down the hallway, across the living room, into the parlor, and up on the piano to the cat food bowl. Amazing! Raccoons are primarily nocturnal, so most of this mischief happens at night.
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RACCOON FACTS: Raccoons are common throughout North America. In fact, they are more common in urban areas than in rural areas. They tend to grow larger up north than down south. Northern raccoons, up in the northern US and Canada can reach over 50 pounds. Down in the south, 20 pounds is large. They are well-known for their ringed tail and masked face. They are not really related to any other mammals. They are somewhat distant relatives of bears. They are very strong for their size. They can swivel the hind feet around 180 degrees to descend a tree headfirst, and are excellent climbers. Raccoons usually give birth to 3-5 young in the spring. These young are very cute, as so some people are tempted to seek pet raccoons, but their temperament isn’t suitable for a pet. They are omnivores, and eat almost anything. They are nocturnal.
ARE THEY BAD ANIMALS? Certainly not. They can be described as cute and talented, and are well adapted to survive in both the forest and the city. They get into trouble with people because they are so adaptable, clever, and handy. As with all animals, they usually just do what they need to do to survive. Oftentimes this means ripping a hole in your roof and living in your attic. It’s true that once inside, they can really trash the place and cause damage. They will usually rip up the duct work, tear the insulation off of pipes, rip up wires, trample or pull up the insulation, rip off any paper lining, and sometimes even damage wood joists. The bigger problem may be the biohazardous contamination they cause. They urinate and defecate in the attic, and the droppings can contain raccoon roundworm — transferrable to humans, or diseases such as canine distemper, transferrable to your pets. They also may bring in the fleas and other parasites associated with wild animals. It’s just the way they are. They also get into trouble with those nimble hands. They’ll break into and open anything they can find, so people may find the trash cans knocked down, or the pet food bag in the garage ripped apart and other problems. They’re usually just looking for food.
BUT DON’T THEY HAVE RABIES? Many people seem to believe that all raccoons carry rabies — a disease that is highly misunderstood. First of all, rabies is a virus, contracted in via an infected animal — raccoons are not born with rabies any more than you are. Second, if a raccoon does contract rabies, it’s going to die. It doesn’t just happily go about its business, ready to infect any person it comes close to. Third, the virus is only transferrable in the very short-lived contagious stage, in which the animal is in the throes of death — walking in circles, hind legs possibly paralyzed, foaming at the mouth, etc. At this time, the virus is transferrable via saliva. I, along with almost every nuisance wildlife expert in the country, I’m sure, am called constantly with reports of rabid raccoons: «but I saw it outside in the daytime!». If it looked healthy, it didn’t have contagious rabies. Sometimes raccoons simply forage at night — after all, haven’t you ever gotten out of bed for a midnight snack? Finally, for whatever reason, there’s only been one documented case of rabies transmission from raccoon to human in the US. Most cases of human infection are due to bats.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON CONFLICTS? The most common thing is a raccoon in an attic, or the soffit, which is under the eave around the perimeter of the attic. They will also nest in the chimney, which is like a big hollow tree. I’ve seen many cases of raccoons living and nesting inside the walls of homes, or even between floors, where they can be heard scratching and making noise in the ceiling. They will also commonly live under a shed or porch, and if possible, under a house. Sometimes they just scratch, poop, and sleep on the roof. As stated, they’ll also get into all sorts of mischief around a house or property, from tipping garbage cans, to eating pet food, to killing ornamental fish in ponds, to pooping in the pool, ripping apart the screen, killing birds, etc.
HOW DO I REMOVE THEM MYSELF? There’s a reason professional wildlife trapping companies exist. First of all, it’s probably illegal for you to trap and remove and relocate raccoons on your own in the state you live. In many states, because the raccoon is a rabies vector, it’s often illegal to relocate them. Most private citizens don’t have the means to humanely euthanize trapped wildlife and properly dispose of or cremate the carcass. Other regional laws regarding wildlife trapping may prevent you from self-trapping as well. Second of all, for those that lack experience, mistake abound in raccoon capture. I’ve seen firsthand my share of big mistakes — from catching non-target animals like the neighbor’s cat, to setting the trap in the wrong area and seeing a trapped raccoon tear up adjacent screens or wires, to causing the animal to suffer, to being badly bitten while attempting to move the trap. Sometimes wildlife trapping seems simple, but it’s a science, and there’s a lot of intangibles that a professional recognizes ahead of time, and a novice simply does not know about. One of the biggest problems I see is that people have a raccoon in the attic, and set a trap on the ground or on the roof, and catch a raccoon, and drive it off to «the woods». The greatest danger in this case is that the raccoon in the attic is a female with a nest of young — in fact, most raccoons in attics are females with young. If you remove the mother raccoon, she’ll go on a desperate trek of many miles back to your attic, in order to get to her babies. She may fail and die, or she may make it back, and never enter a trap again. If she doesn’t make it back, now you’ve got a bigger problem — four squealing young in your attic. They will either cause damage, or suffer and die, and then cause a terrible stench in your home. The other problem I see from novices is non-target catches. That is, getting the wrong raccoon. In fact, pretty much every case that I’ve observed in which homeowners try to do it themselves (like block off the hole — nice one! Now the raccoon just tears open a NEW hole) results in failure or animal cruelty. Please don’t try to do it yourself, cheapskate. You have a raccoon problem, you ought to deal with it correctly, for your own good and for that of the animal.
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CAN’T I JUST USE A REPELLENT? Go ahead and try. In many of the jobs that I take on, the customer has already purchased all matter of magic «raccoon-b-gone» or «coon-away» type raccoon repellents. These repellents are usually comprised of either naphthalene (moth balls) or predator urine (fox or coyote) or ammonia. I’ve personally observed dozens of cases in which customers have loaded their attics with these sorts of gimmicks, and it doesn’t effect the raccoon’s behavior one bit. There’s certainly no such thing as a raccoon poison meant to kill raccoons. As usual in wildlife control, there’s no cheap and easy solution. Your best bet is to call out a professional.
- Avoid cage trapping when possible. Raccoons in cages become stressed and can injure themselves. A trapped mother raccoon can be separated from its babies, who will then starve to death. Rather than trap, attempt to eliminate whatever is attracting the raccoon to your property. Bring pet food indoors, use fencing, bungee strap down the garbage can lids, seal the pet door, etc.
- If you must trap, and if a trap is set in the sun, they can deydrate and die of heat stroke. Always set the trap in a shady area, and check it diligently every morning, and relocate the animal as soon as possible.
- Relocation is stressful, on both the new animal and the existing animals in the area. Select your relocation point carefully, in an area with abundant resources and water.
- ALERT — if you have a raccoon in the attic, 90% of the time it is a female with a litter of babies. DO NOT simply trap the mother and remove her. The young in your attic will slowly starve to death over a period of up to two weeks, then decompose and cause an odor problem. Always be sure to find and remove the young as part of the process.
- You don’t always have to physically remove raccoons in the attic or chimney. How to Remove a Wild Animal in the Chimney. Sometimes you can simply harass them out. Make your presence known, use raccoon eviction fluid scent, and the mother may move the young out on her own.
- Prevention is always the best when it comes to wildlife control. Be sure you have no openings or vulnerable areas on your home that allow animals inside. Don’t leave out pet food or garbage or fruit on the ground, etc.
Wondering how to get rid of raccoons quickly and easily? There is no magic spray or device that you can use to make them go away. Some people try to sell predator urine, such as coyote or fox urine to get rid of raccoons, but that doesn’t work. They also try to sell ultrasonic sound emitters. These devices are worthless at eliminating raccoons. Some old wives’ tales recommend the use of mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags to make them leave, but I’ve been to countless homes where these techniques failed — biologists know that these attempts won’t work. The ONE AND ONLY WAY to take care of your problem is with trapping (tips here) and removal of the animals. If you need to find a professional trapper in your hometown, just click our comprehensive list of hundreds of wildlife removal professionals, and you can have your problem quickly taken care of!
Read more articles about raccoons:
Find out all you need to know about raccoons through my educational articles! Learn how to identify raccoon tracks and feces, and just how smart they are. Find out if raccoons swim, if they live in trees or sleep in trees, if they come out in the rainand how big raccoons get. Learn about whether or not raccoons can climb fences, open doors or windows, burrow or dig holes, and just how far and high they can jump.
Read here about whether or not raccoons hibernate, and if they eat rodents. Learn if raccoons attack cats, dogs, or other pets, and whether they can be a danger to other animals. Perhaps our most important article to share is What to do if you are bitten by a raccoon.