Raccoons are perhaps the most common disease-carrying species. Raccoons like to nest in abandoned farmlands and woodlot or wetland areas, and once they choose their habitat, they can cause destruction and become quite a nuisance.
Many wonder how to get rid of raccoons due to their annoying nightly behaviors. Raccoons forage for food and water soon after sunset, meaning they’ll be digging through your trash cans nightly.
These oversized rodents can reside in your attic, walls, and under your deck. The solution requires knowing how to spot an infestation, getting rid of raccoons, and finally preventing them from coming back.
- How To Identify A Raccoon Infestation
- Getting Rid Of Raccoons Humanely and Naturally
- How To Get Rid Of Raccoons In Your Home
- Calling In Professional Pest Control
- Prevent Raccoons From Returning
- Final Thoughts On Getting Rid Of Raccoons
- Raccoon FAQ's
How To Identify A Raccoon Infestation
Raccoons are pack animals who stay in groups of a minimum of five. However, unlike wolves and coyotes, raccoons aren’t afraid of people and will reside within people’s homes or abandoned areas.
Raccoons like quiet, solitary areas where they can be undisturbed to build their pack and care for their young. Despite the raccoon’s diseases, they will strive for clean areas where unsealed food is abundant.
If you spot one or two raccoons roaming your area, you can almost guarantee that their nest is close by. Either your oversized rodents are scoping a safer place to reside, or they are foraging food to bring back to their family.
However, if your home seems comfortable enough for this pack animal, they will relocate. Clear signs of a raccoon infestation can be noticed, such as:
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Evidence Of Raccoons Feeding
Did you know raccoons “wash” their food before eating it? It means that they’ll examine each item by soaking their food in water to get a better feel for what it is they are holding.
Signs that a raccoon has been feeding on your property are:
- Ripped trash bags
- Lawn and garden damage
- Spilled pet food or water dishes (if left outside)
- Broken or empty bird feeders
- Compost piles
It is uncommon for a raccoon to interfere with your property or garbage during the day as these pests are nocturnal creatures. These mammals take their food from a water source back to their dens after they have gotten their fill.
Like humans, raccoons have five fingers, making it easier to hold onto items or climb trees and fences. Raccoons are flat-footed, like a bear, and look similar to that of an opossum.
The raccoon’s hind paws look different from the forepaw. You’ll notice an extended heel that sinks into the earth’s surface.
A raccoon’s tracks travel in a diagonal pattern like a deer’s if you look closely. Their hind paws range from 2 to 3 inches in length and 1 inch in width. In comparison, their front paws range from 1.5 inches to 3 inches in length and 1 to 2 inches wide.
Raccoon poop is similar to the width and size of a dog and is tubelike. The smell is different from a dog’s as it also has a potent urine smell. Most of the time, you may find seeds or berries inside raccoon droppings.
Unlike rat and mouse droppings, the raccoon will poop in one general area, whereas a rat or other small rodent will poop wherever they walk.
If the raccoon infestation resides somewhere in your home, such as walls or in the attic and basement, you’ll hear scratching, clawing, and loud scurrying throughout the night.
Raccoons are very vocal creatures with distinct language. You may hear chittering – in between a cat and a squirrel. Other sounds include growling like a dog, whistling like a small bird, or mewing like a high-pitched kitten.
These noises are hard to miss and can range from quiet to extremely loud.
Visible Damage To Property
You may have an interior infestation if you notice long claw-like scratches along your walls or flooring. On the other hand, raccoons can leave outside damage like dug-out holes on your roof, buried dens in your yard or garden, or loose branches connecting to your home.
Raccoons build dens and burrows for their nesting areas. Noticeable damage includes broken screens, gnawed exterior walls, broken ornaments, and damaged gutters and vents.
Since raccoons are foragers and builders, the central lawn damage you’ll find is garbage tossed all over the place. Sometimes, you’ll spot holes or digging areas along with your lawn or garden patch, as raccoons seek earthworms for nutrition.
Why not check out this article Are Raccoons Dangerous and Do They Bite?
Getting Rid Of Raccoons Humanely and Naturally
The best way to get rid of raccoons once you find an infestation is to deter them from the area. It includes building fences, keeping food enclosed, ensuring windows and doors are locked, and maintaining outdoor shrubbery.
However, raccoons can reside anywhere they feel safe, and comfortable, and easily access resources. If your home provides the necessities raccoons look for, you must get rid of them before preventing the infestation again. If you’re wondering how to get rid of raccoons in a humane manner, take a look at these suggestions.
Raccoon Deterrents and Repellents
Raccoons are brilliant based on the fact that over the decades, raccoons have flourished with the human race rather than retreated. Some homeowners have found that raccoons have covered-up scent deterrents as an effective method to stick around rather than move.
Raccoons have a distinct sense of smell, so prominent repellent people use a scent-based deterrent. However, if you choose this option, you’ll want to place different scents surrounding your property.
Other effective methods include sound technology, maintenance, housing upkeep, lighting, and calling professionals if all else fails.
Rodent Repel Spray
Have you wondered how to get rid of raccoons using a simple mixture of ingredients you’re likely to have at home? Since smells repel raccoons, a spray is an excellent choice to try and get raccoons to move away from your property.
You’ll need cayenne pepper and a bottle of hot sauce. Mix these two ingredients in a gallon of water, shake well, and viola. This spray solution deters all types of rodents – not just raccoons. This pepper spray won’t kill your plants or other greenery.
Spray the fume around the perimeter of your chicken coops, ponds, trees, and house foundation.
If you don’t have time to make your own repel spray, there are a range of commercial rodent repellent sprays available on Amazon.com or other stores.
Ultrasonic Animal Deterrent
You can try either sound that emits specific frequencies that are silent to the human ear or get devices that have pre-recorded animal and hunting noises to scare the raccoons.
Ultrasonic Animal Deterrent
Raccoons have over-sensitive hearing like dogs and cats. Installing an ultrasonic repeller will also deter these large rodents because they won’t hang around loud noise for too long.
While ultrasonic sounds may work to deter raccoons, it’s only meant as a temporary fix to scare these critters away. If you leave the ultrasonic sound on permanently, your raccoons may come back, as they’ll quickly get used to the new sound frequency.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Another quick fix for deterring raccoons is vinegar. You can spray straight apple cider vinegar in anything such as garbage bins, compost piles, and lawn holes, which will prevent the raccoon from coming to that specific area.
Like the DIY spray mentioned above, any vinegar works for repelling raccoons from your property. Raccoons don’t like the pungent smell that vinegar gives off – the same way onions and garlic irritate their noses.
Cayenne and chili peppers can be boiled and then cooled, added to a spray bottle for another homemade method for deterring raccoons. Aside from homemade sprays, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper and chili peppers around your property or at the entrance of your doors to keep raccoons away.
Just as if you had smelled something you don’t like, you’d want to get rid of it or avoid it. Raccoons’ senses work the same way. However, if a raccoon has already resided in your home, they may cover it up or remove the smell itself.
For that reason, the spray is the best option and ensures you use the spray in more than one location on your property.
Ammonia is present in most cleaning products, mainly bleach. Ammonia is a liquid and compressed gas that, once used, brings upon a distinct acidic smell. It also happens to be present in urine, and the thought is that raccoons won’t go to an area they suspect to be soiled with urine.
Be warned, though, that ammonia will likely only keep the raccoon away from the spot where the ammonia is and not from the entire property.
Scented Trash Bags
Raccoons’ primary source of food deposits is people’s trash. While you can bag up your garbage and throw it in a bin with a tightly enclosed lid, scented trash bags help for the times when raccoons find a way to break into your garbage bin. You can get scented trash bags.
Another technique you can try for garbage disposal is to keep your garbage in the house until garbage day. If that is not a viable option, try placing your garbage bin in the line of a spotlight. Raccoons don’t like bright lights, and so when your porch light comes on, it will scare them off.
Although it’s not recommended to trap and relocate raccoons, sometimes that’s all you can do to deter them from coming back. Many hardware places carry cage traps, which you can use bait to trap your not-so-friendly critter.
Once you’ve captured the oversized rodent, you’ll want to set it free as soon as possible. If you’re going to carry the cage, ensure you wear protective gloves.
However, your best option is to call a professional, as they’ll know what to do with the trapped raccoon.
How To Get Rid Of Raccoons In Your Home
The most humane way to get rid of raccoons is to harass them until they leave. Although this might take up to eight weeks or more, it’s best to use more than one method together.
For example, you’ll want to get an ultrasonic device to scare them, coupled with a DIY pepper spray, and spray the perimeter.
Since raccoons are nocturnal, you’ll want to start these methods at dusk, when the raccoons are most active. Remember to be patient. Once your oversized rodent vacates the premises, close all entryways, patch up any holes, and clean its living area with ammonia.
Raccoons In Your Attic
If you have found a raccoon infestation in your attic, it may be because most attics have an accessible entrance, shelter the raccoons from weather, and are away from household noises but not too far from food.
In the summer or spring months, a raccoon taking over your attic may be a nursing mother seeking solitude to care for her young.
If you have a raccoon in your attic, you’ll want to get them out as soon as possible, as they carry many diseases, and inhaling their feces is toxic for human and pet health. Not to mention, the raccoons are already damaging your house.
Some things you can do to remove attic raccoons are:
- Set live traps by an entrance
- Seal holes and gap openings
- Remove food sources
- Rid their scent trail
- Remove easy access to the attic
- Hire a professional
Raccoons Inside The Wall Cavity
Raccoons living inside the wall may cause electrical fires or damage the wiring leading to light switches and other electrical functions. Your raccoon family may have found cracks or crevices on the exterior of your house in siding or your roof, which has enabled them to get inside.
It may be possible that a raccoon has fallen into the wall cavity from the attic or got itself stuck from entering and can’t get out. Before attempting to remove a raccoon from a wall, ensure that you wear protective clothing such as heavy gloves, rubber boots, layers of clothing, and a good face mask.
After safely removing the raccoons, make sure you:
- Clean up all feces and raccoon remnants
- Takedown and rebuild the damaged wall
- Patch any holes
- Spray scent trails
- Call professionals
Raccoons In Your Chimney
Raccoon families will choose chimneys for warmth because they look similar to a tree where raccoons will nest for the winter.
One trick you can do to prevent raccoons from invading your chimney is by putting a bowl full of vinegar at the bottom of your fireplace.
Never try to remove a raccoon family alone. However, the best way to coax them out is to build or set a trap at the entrance of your chimney. After the raccoons have left, cap your chimney.
Again, clean up raccoon remnants and call professionals to help clear and prevent them from coming back.
Raccoons In Your Trash Can
Are you fed up trying to determine how to get rid of raccoons rummaging through your trash? Raccoons favor and use garbage bins to collect food and nesting resources. Ways to Keep Raccoons out of your trash include:
- Hang lights around your trash bins and keep them on through the night
- Build a scarecrow where your compost is
- Sprinkle ammonia or pepper around your garbage area
- Keep a tight lid on your trash bins
- Keep the garbage area clean (no loose garbage)
The less attractive your garbage disposal area looks, the less likely you’ll have a raccoon infesting your bins.
Raccoons In The Yard Or Garden
If you have a fish pond, vegetable gardens, bird feeders, chicken coops, or fruit trees, you will more than likely have raccoon visitors.
Since raccoons are omnivores, they eat everything from fruits, vegetables, seeds, and fish or meat products. When it comes to your garden, try planting garlic and peppers.
The best way to get rid of raccoons in your yard or garden is to build an electric fence or barbed wire around your property. If this is too expensive of an idea, you could individually fence your gardens or fish ponds to ensure raccoons cannot get to them.
Raccoons Under Decking Or House
Decks provide dark, sheltered, and quiet areas for raccoons to survive away from the busy streets and extreme weather. If your deck is close to your garbage disposal, this is even better for the raccoons as they have an immediate source of food.
If you notice signs of a raccoon infestation, be sure to check for gaps and small holes or areas where the raccoons have dug for entry. After removing the mammals, ensure you patch any holes and refill the dug-out areas.
It may be a good idea to plant or spray deterring scents around your deck, sheds, barns, and porches.
Raccoons Visiting Chicken Coop
Raccoons find a coop full of chickens, and they’ll think “easy prey,” and one by one, they’ll start reducing the number of chickens in your cage. Some easy ways to prevent your raccoons from getting to your chickens are:
- Trim hedges and tall grass around the coop
- Surround the area with raccoon repellent
- Use lights that turn on when someone comes near
- Feed chickens scraps in their sheltered area
- Surround the base with chicken or barbed wire
- As a last resort, create raccoon traps around any entrance way
Raccoons Visiting Bird Feeders
Raccoons will eat seeds and use your bird feeders as bait to catch birds. Seeds also attract rats and mice, which also attract raccoons. Some definitive ways to reduce raccoons coming to your bird feeders are:
- Put bird feeders up high
- Always clean up ground seeds
- Bring bird feeders inside each night
- Sprinkle ammonia or other deterring scents under the feeders
- Use sprinklers near your feeders that turn on when the raccoon gets within proximity of it.
Calling In Professional Pest Control
If you’re looking for people who know how to get rid of raccoons, professionals are one of your best bets. They are licensed individuals who deal with pests and wildlife regularly. Professional pest control knows how to trap raccoons without hurting them and then knows where to dispose of them, so it’s out of your hands.
Some reasons why you may want to call a professional are:
- They know what they are doing
- Your methods haven’t worked
- They have the proper tools and gear to do the job
- They will know what to do in case of an emergency
Prevent Raccoons From Returning
If you have had a raccoon infestation and have cleaned up the mess, as well as [aid for all damages and are finally raccoon-free, you don’t want them coming back. Raccoons are intelligent animals who will sense where they have been and, after some time, will come back to places they remember.
Keep in mind to prevent raccoons from returning that you:
- Never leave food uncovered or unattended
- Ensure your driveway, sheds, porches, and other buildings are clean and tidy most of the time
- Bring trash cans in nightly
- Install lights around your property
- Consider fencing
- Use raccoon-repellent scents in your garden and around your building
It may be a good idea to use professional services like landscapers, pest control, and home inspectors to take a clean look at your exterior and interior home to ensure raccoons don’t come back.
Professional services will give you tools and recommendations to fix or follow up on to prepare for another infestation if that happens.
Preventive methods include ensuring your property is unattractive to these oversized rodents and maintaining the yard and garbage areas.
Exclusion techniques include going over your yard and the building foundation to check or take note of cracks and crevices or easy-to-squeeze-through holes. Keep an eye on pipe repairs, electrical circuits, and roofing structures.
Raccoons will find tiny holes to enter into, and then once again, you’ll have a raccoon infestation. Keep note of trees and other buildings that may be close to your roof, and keep these trees maintained and short.
Final Thoughts On Getting Rid Of Raccoons
Whether you have had a raccoon infestation, or you’re trying to prevent it from happening, many things such as scent deterrents, keeping things closed, using lights, and loud sounds will ensure that raccoons stay away.
Although the typical raccoon is relatively intelligent, they will run at any noise or activity, which is why they choose abandoned or quiet areas.
Despite the information provided, you may still be wondering one question ruminating through your mind.