Raccoons are smart animals that are determined to make the most of any potential food opportunities.
Their nickname of trash bandit describes their appreciation of human waste bins’ contents and their fearless approach to foraging.
You get rid of raccoons naturally when you block raccoon entry points into the house, cut their access to food, which includes removing pet food and securing garbage cans, repel them using an electric fence, and trapping and relocating them.
Read on for trapping and prevention details.
Best Ways to Deal with Raccoons
Raccoons look cute, and their behavior in their natural environment is fascinating. But raccoons in the wrong place are a menace.
1. Keep the Raccoon Out of Your House
You need to raccoon-proof your house to keep these animals on the outside.
The best way of getting rid of raccoons humanely is to deny them access to your living space:
- Make sure there are no tree limbs to let them jump onto the roof. You need a gap of at least five feet to avoid the agile raccoon jumping from branch to roof.
- Cover chimneys with appropriate screening and make sure it is secure.
- Close exterior windows in the attic or install robust screening.
- Remove any trellises that give the resourceful raccoon a climbing path to your roof.
- Raccoon proof your decks, porches, and sheds by installing wire mesh in the ground to prevent burrowing underneath.
- Keep your roof structurally sound.
2. Don’t Provide Food in Your Garden
The raccoon comes looking for food; if none is available, it has no reason to come into your garden, and if it does not come into your garden, it won’t come into your house.
To avoid providing food for raccoons:
- Do not leave pet food or water outside overnight.
- Secure your garbage cans.
- Pick up fallen fruit and nuts.
- Don’t leave bird food out overnight.
A raccoon may find food by foraging in your garden, but you don’t need to give it the added attraction of an abundance of free food.
3. Remove Raccoons Naturally
How do you get rid of raccoons naturally?
First, cut off access to all food sources and then redesign your garden habitat to be less welcoming.
Raccoons are woodland creatures that like cover – keep your garden open with few hiding places, keep the grass short, and have big spaces between your flower beds.
An electric fence will not harm your children or pets, but it will startle both raccoons and squirrels when they encounter it.
The next step is to use scare tactics like fox urine pellets as the presence of a larger predator will deter all but the hungriest raccoon.
Finally, you have the option of humanely trapping, removing, and transferring the raccoon to an animal sanctuary for appropriate release into a wild area. Some States allow you to trap and kill the offending raccoon.
Getting rid of raccoons humanely involves either scaring or removing the live animal or trapping and killing with minimal suffering for the raccoon.
4. Raccoon Traps
Most raccoon traps involve catching a live animal for killing or release. Most legal raccoon traps will not kill the animal for you, and many raccoon traps will also ensnare dogs and cats.
The trap must be strong enough to keep a raccoon in the cage when the animal’s instinct is to escape.
The most successful bait foods are sweet treats like marshmallows or pet food.
Below are the 3 best live traps for raccoons – sturdy and large enough for them.
Best Raccoon Live Traps:
#1 Duke Heavy Duty Large Cage Trap
This trap is a standard cage trap for live trapping animals like feral cats, raccoons, and armadillos.
The principle is straightforward – you place an attractive treat food inside the cage. The animal enters the cage to get the food and steps on a trigger plate that causes the door to close.
You then retrieve the cage containing the animal (wear heavy-duty gloves and put a cover on the cage to calm the animal).
Depending on your preferences and State rules, you can then take the animal to be humanely dispatched or released at least six miles from your home in a more suitable habitat.
What you get with this raccoon trap:
- Proven design that traps live animals with minimal distress.
- Heavy-duty wire cage.
- Qualifies as a humane trap.
#2 OxGord Live Animal Trap
This trap for getting rid of raccoons humanely features a spring-loaded gate and a sensitive trigger plate.
It is a standard, bait the trap, and the animal walks in and triggers the gate closing, but this is a super-robust design. All the internal edges are rounded to prevent injury to the trapped animal, and the mesh is rust-proof to give you years of use.
What you get with this raccoon trap:
- Humane trap capturing live animals and keeping them in good condition.
- Spring-loaded gate means the raccoon cannot force its way out of the trap.
- Suitable for the live capture of many animal species.
- One gate so there is no risk of trapping two animals inside.
- Green coating allows the trap to blend in.
#3 Duke Heavy Duty X-Large Cage Trap
This humane trap is a larger size and suitable for foxes as well as raccoons. Raccoons are strong animals, and a larger cage is an excellent idea.
This trap features a door in the roof that allows you to place the bait that persuades the animal to enter the cage.
What you get with this raccoon trap:
- Larger size, so it is versatile for larger raccoons and other animal pests.
- Humane trap that captures the live animal without injury.
- One gate, so no risk of trapping multiple animals.
Why Do Raccoons Come to Your House?
Raccoons come looking for food, water, and shelter and your house provides the opportunity to gain both in one easy package.
Raccoons are intelligent and agile climbers, which means they can easily access your home, dustbin bins, and garden sheds. If your house proves to be abundant in supplies of water and food, these charming bandits will move right in and make themselves at home.
The 4 Raccoon Problem Areas
The stealthy raccoon chooses to occupy parts of your home that are less inhabited than the living rooms, and popular zones include:
- Ceiling spaces.
If you have accessible crawl spaces under your home, these are prime spots for raccoon occupation.
Raccoons in the Attic
Attics are brilliant for raccoons – warm, dry, and a safe nesting site. They are agile climbers, and if there is easy access to your attic, they will find or create it.
Access points to the attic for a determined raccoon include:
- Chimney joints.
- Roof vents.
- Broken facias or soffit.
- Damp, rotten wood under shingles.
How do you know if they are there?
You know you have got raccoons in the attic when:
- The ceilings in the rooms below the attic have discolored patches due to piles of raccoon poop and urine. Worst case – the ceiling breaks and falls.
- Problems with your electrics – raccoons will chew through wires.
- High heating bills as the raccoons damage your roof insulation, and this may allow cold spots on the roof with ice build-up and leaks.
- Noises from the animals moving about.
- Visible evidence in the attic of raccoon occupation.
- Seeing raccoons going up to your roof and disappearing into your attic.
If you have raccoons in your attic, you may want to find a specialist to remove both the raccoons and their waste products.
When the animals are gone, you need to address the repairs to the roof and raccoon-proof any possible entry areas like roof vents. The addition of metal flashing and mesh will raccoon-proof your most vulnerable areas.
A regular inspection of the roof and keeping it sound will help keep raccoons out of your attic.
Raccoons in the Yard
On the one hand, it is a pleasure to watch wildlife in your backyard. On the other hand, raccoons in your backyard are one step closer to raccoons coming into your home.
Raccoons sometimes forage during the day, but typically they prefer to be active under cover of darkness.
Their natural food is small animals, insects, and plants – raccoons are omnivorous. A raccoon is adaptable and will pretty much eat anything edible in your bin if it can find it.
Signs raccoons are in your yard include:
- Damage to your bins and garbage across the yard.
- Scratch marks and droppings at woodpiles and the base of trees.
- Seeing a raccoon foraging.
Raccoons come into your yard to forage for food and water. Potential sources are your trash cans, pet bowls, ponds, bird feeders, windfalls from fruit trees, and anything edible you are growing in your yard space.
Preventing raccoons from accessing your yard can include:
- Electric fencing and a motion detector with a frightening alarm such as a combination of bright lights and noises.
- Removing any food, water, or shelter from your yard space makes your yard less attractive for foraging raccoons but may be impractical.
- Securely locking your garbage bins and protecting any animal food stores with locked metal bins is the best way of depriving an opportunistic raccoon of an easy meal.
If raccoons are in your yard, you can scare them away with loud music and lights.
Preventing raccoons from wanting to come into your yard is the best way of ensuring that raccoons don’t get into your house.
Raccoons in the Walls and Ceilings
If your house walls or ceilings have a void, the ever-curious raccoon can enter this from the attic or any other weak point in your house structure.
Raccoons – particularly baby raccoons can get trapped in the space between the walls.
You may hear noises indicating that a raccoon is moving through your walls or ceiling – the best solution is to engage a licensed pest control officer to locate and remove your raccoon.
In some States, it is illegal for you as a homeowner to trap and remove raccoons.
When are Raccoons Most Active?
Raccoons are nocturnal animals and are active throughout the night. Some raccoons, if exceptionally hungry, may forage during the day.
You are most likely to hear raccoons in the house spaces like attics, wall cavities, and ducts at night while the house is quiet, and they start to move around.
Outside, you may hear the crash of a toppling trash can if a couple of raccoons are trying to access food scraps.
What Damage Can Raccoons Cause?
Raccoons are agile and armed with sharp teeth and powerful digging claws. To gain access to your house, they will search for and break in through any structurally weak points.
Raccoons in residence can cause damage in the following ways:
- Depositing poop in raccoon latrines – as the pile grows, it puts damp, smelly stress on surfaces and may cause ceilings to break.
- Chewing wires.
- Flattening insulation and digging it out – creating cold spots and weather damage.
- Creating holes in the roof and walls.
- Scattering trash can debris across your yard.
- Damaging fences and other garden structures.
- Digging up lawns in search of grubs.
Are Raccoons Dangerous to Pets?
A raccoon is an intelligent wild animal armed with sharp teeth and claws, and it is a predator.
If a dog or a cat threatens a raccoon, the raccoon will fight back by attacking the eyes and soft underbelly. In a competition between pets and raccoons, the raccoon usually wins. Raccoons also hunt, catch, and eat small animals, making them a predator of small pets like rabbits with nowhere to run.
In the wild, rabbits are not a natural food source for raccoons because the rabbit can run away. In the confines of your yard, a pet rabbit can fall victim to a hungry raccoon.
If you have a shallow pond with ornamental fish, an enterprising raccoon may add them to its menu.
Raccoons are dangerous to pets through attack and defense using their natural weapons and through the transmission of diseases.
Generally, it is better if your pets and wild raccoons do not mix.
Are Raccoons Dangerous to Humans?
Like any trapped animal, a raccoon will fight back if cornered, and its sharp teeth and claws can inflict enough damage to require medical attention.
A raccoon does not seek to attack a human, but it will defend itself vigorously when threatened by a human’s presence in a confined space.
Do Raccoons Carry Diseases?
Raccoons can carry rabies, roundworm, and other diseases.
Despite raccoons being a primary carrier of rabies, transmission to humans and dogs is relatively rare. Only one human has ever died of rabies caught from a raccoon.
Despite this low level of risk, if a raccoon bites you, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Animal bites are prone to infection from bacteria found in the animal’s mouth.
Raccoon latrines in your house are a health hazard that requires removal and disinfection. The poop can transmit roundworm eggs, and Leptospira bacteria are present in raccoon urine.
Can You Kill Raccoons on Your Property?
The legal position for killing raccoons on your property or inside your house depends on your State rules. You need to check your State and City laws to be sure of your legal position.
For example, Washington DC insists that you must trap your raccoon humanely and release it on suitable land.
The other States treat killing raccoons as a hunting matter, and you need an appropriate license and to stay with the hunting regulations of that State.
It is not always legal to kill a raccoon in your house.