How to Get Rid of Raccoons

How to Get Rid of Raccoons: 10 Effective Methods for Removal and Prevention

Raccoons, those furry bandits of the night, can be both fascinating and troublesome creatures when they find their way into your home or property. In this guide, we will explore what raccoons are and why they can be a concern.

We’ll also delve into their habits, provide ten practical methods to remove raccoon infestations, help you identify signs of their presence, and offer tips for preventing these curious critters from invading your space.

What is a Raccoon, and why is it a concern?

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Raccoons, scientifically known as Procyon lotor, are medium-sized mammals native to North America. They are recognizable by their distinctive black mask and ringed tails, making them one of the most iconic wildlife species on the continent.

While raccoons are intriguing creatures, their presence in and around your property can pose various challenges.

Understanding Raccoon’s Habits: Why They Can Be a Problem

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Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, primarily active during the night, which is when they often forage for food. They are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals and are not particularly picky eaters.

This broad diet includes fruits, vegetables, insects, small rodents, pet food, and even garbage. Unfortunately, their adaptability and curiosity make them prone to venturing into human habitats in search of sustenance, which can lead to property damage, disease transmission, and nuisance.

Raccoon Species Overview and Physical Characteristics

Basic Information Table:

Common NameScientific NameTypeDietGroup NameAverage Life Span in the WildSizeWeight
RaccoonsProcyon lotorMammalsOmnivoreNursery2 to 3 years23.75 to 37.5 inches4 to 23 pounds

Raccoon Facts Table:

Main PreyFun FactHabitatPredatorsDietAverage Litter SizeLifestyleFavorite Food
Fish, Nuts, Berries, CornSporting a black mask and ringed tail, the raccoon is among the most common mammals in North AmericaWoodland areas close to waterBobcat, Foxes, Wolves, Mountain LionsOmnivore5SolitaryFish

Raccoon Physical Characteristics Table:

ColorSkin TypeTop SpeedLifespanWeight Range
Brown, Grey, Black, WhiteFur15 mph12-16 years3.5-9kg (7.7-19.8lbs)

How to Get Rid of Raccoons: 10 Effective Methods for Removal and Prevention

1. Seal Entry Points:

Raccoons are crafty climbers and can squeeze through surprisingly small openings. Begin by inspecting your property for any potential entry points. Check for gaps in attics, vents, crawl spaces, and broken screens. Seal these openings with sturdy materials like hardware cloth or steel mesh, ensuring that no raccoon can wriggle its way inside.

Remember, raccoons are persistent, so be thorough in your efforts. By closing these access points, you not only remove the entryways but also discourage future infestations.

2. Secure Trash Bins:

Raccoons are notorious for their scavenging skills, and one of their favorite targets is your trash. To thwart their efforts, invest in trash bins with tightly fitting, raccoon-resistant lids.

These specialized lids are designed to withstand raccoon tampering and will keep your garbage securely sealed. Additionally, consider securing your trash bins to a heavy object or post to prevent raccoons from knocking them over. A secure garbage disposal system will go a long way in deterring raccoons from frequenting your property.

3. Remove Outdoor Food Sources:

Raccoons are opportunistic eaters, and they won’t hesitate to feast on fallen fruits, nuts, or pet food left outside. To reduce their attraction, regularly clean up fallen fruit or nuts from your yard and keep your pet’s food indoors when not in use.

Consider installing bird feeders that are raccoon-proof, and elevate them to a height that raccoons can’t reach. By eliminating these readily available food sources, you decrease the likelihood of raccoons becoming regular visitors.

4. Install Motion-Activated Lights and Alarms:

Raccoons prefer the cover of darkness, making well-lit areas less appealing to them. Install motion-activated lights around your property, especially near potential entry points, trash bins, and garden areas.

These lights will startle raccoons when they approach, making them think twice about venturing onto your property. You can also use motion-activated alarms that emit loud noises when triggered, further discouraging raccoons from exploring your premises.

5. Use Commercial Repellents:

Commercial raccoon repellents are readily available at hardware and garden supply stores. These repellents often contain natural ingredients like hot peppers or ammonia, which produce odors that raccoons find unpleasant. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, focusing on areas where raccoons are likely to visit.

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of repellents may vary, and you may need to reapply them periodically, especially after rain. While they may not provide foolproof protection, repellents can be a valuable part of your raccoon management strategy.

6. Employ Live Traps:

Live traps are a humane way to capture raccoons and safely relocate them. Choose a live trap that is appropriately sized for raccoons and bait it with a tempting treat like cat food or marshmallows.

Place the trap near areas of raccoon activity, ensuring it’s stable and secure. Check the trap regularly, and when you’ve successfully captured a raccoon, contact your local animal control or a wildlife removal expert for guidance on safe relocation. Live trapping should always be done with care and in compliance with local regulations.

7. Call a Professional:

When faced with a persistent or severe raccoon infestation that poses a threat to your property or safety, it’s best to call in a professional wildlife removal service. These experts are trained in safe and humane raccoon removal, using methods that comply with local laws and regulations.

They will assess the situation, identify entry points, and implement effective removal strategies while also ensuring the raccoons are relocated to a suitable environment where they won’t pose harm.

8. Ammonia Soaked Rags:

Ammonia is known for its pungent odor, which raccoons find unpleasant. To deter raccoons, soak rags or cloth strips in ammonia and place them in areas where raccoon activity is prevalent.

These can include entry points, trash storage areas, or around the perimeter of your property. The strong scent of ammonia can act as a temporary deterrent, encouraging raccoons to seek out more hospitable locations.

9. Secure Compost Bins:

Raccoons are attracted to compost bins, which can be a source of easily accessible food scraps. To prevent them from raiding your compost, invest in raccoon-resistant compost bins that have sturdy lids and locks.

Make sure to securely close the bin after adding compost material and avoid adding meat or dairy products to your compost, which can be particularly appealing to raccoons. By managing your compost effectively, you reduce the temptation for raccoons to forage in your yard.

10. Trim Overhanging Branches:

Raccoons are adept climbers and can use overhanging branches to gain access to your roof and property. To thwart their attempts, regularly trim back branches that provide easy access to your home.

By keeping tree branches away from your roof and any potential entry points, you create a raccoon-proof barrier that limits their pathways onto your property. This simple preventive measure can significantly reduce the risk of raccoon infestations in your home.

Identifying Raccoons: 5 Common Signs

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1. Fecal Matter:

Raccoon droppings can be a clear sign of their presence. These droppings are tubular in shape, similar to that of a small dog, and often have a distinct odor. You may find them in communal latrines, particularly near areas where raccoons frequent.

2. Paw Prints:

Raccoon paw prints are quite distinctive and resemble tiny human hands with five fingers. Look for these tracks around muddy or soft soil areas, such as garden beds, near trash cans, or on decks or patios.

3. Torn Garbage Bags:

If you notice your trash bags have been torn open and their contents scattered around, it’s a strong indicator of raccoon activity. Raccoons are skilled at ripping open bags in search of food.

4. Nocturnal Sounds:

Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, and their nighttime activities may include loud chattering, scratching, or rustling sounds. Listen for these noises, especially if they come from your attic or chimney.

5. Property Damage:

Raccoons are curious and may cause damage to your property while exploring. Look for signs of scratches, gnaw marks, or damaged vents and screens, particularly around potential entry points like attic windows or roof vents.

Preventing Raccoons: Removing Their Food and Water Sources

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1. Open Food Containers:

Keep all food items securely stored in airtight containers indoors. This includes not only human food but also pet food. Raccoons have a keen sense of smell and can easily locate and access open containers of food.

2. Accessible Water:

Raccoons require a water source, so eliminate any standing water in your yard. This includes fixing leaky faucets, covering open containers of water, and regularly emptying bird baths. By removing their access to water, you make your property less appealing to raccoons.

3. Overgrown Vegetation:

Trim bushes and vegetation near your home, particularly those close to potential entry points. Raccoons may use overgrown plants as cover or a pathway onto your property. Maintaining a well-groomed yard reduces hiding spots for raccoons.

4. Fruit and Nut Trees:

If you have fruit or nut trees on your property, promptly harvest the produce and clean up any fallen fruit or nuts. These can be a significant food source for raccoons, and by removing them, you reduce the attraction.

5. Trash and Compost:

Ensure that your trash bins are securely closed with raccoon-resistant lids and that compost bins are well-maintained. Avoid putting meat or dairy products in your compost, as these items are particularly appealing to raccoons. By managing your waste properly, you minimize the food sources that might draw raccoons to your property.


In conclusion, effectively managing raccoon infestations requires a multi-pronged approach that includes both removal methods and preventive measures.

By implementing these strategies and understanding the signs of raccoon presence, you can protect your home and property from these resourceful creatures while also encouraging peaceful coexistence.

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