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Getting Rid of Raccoons

Raccoon Getting into Birdfeeder

Raccoons are very intelligent and can be cute when viewed from afar. However, they can also be messy and feisty pests to have around. This is a guide about getting rid of raccoons.



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Tip: Ammonia To Deter Raccoons

We lost our amusement of these masked bandits this year when we had to replace our roof due to seven entry holes chewed in the roof. We are still struggling with the expense these creatures caused. They got it our upstairs (not the attic) and would come and go at certain times of the day.

We ended up having to have a trapper come, which got expensive after the third trip. He said unfortunately there was no way to prevent them from coming back. However, he did use ammonia to spray around the outside of the house to help keep them from climbing the downspouts and chimney. Marshmallows were also used as bait in the traps and were successful.

By HerkDia from Baltimore, MD

Tip: Coexisting with Raccoons

I am a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and specialize in orphaned raccoons. I understand the frustration that occurs when raccoons (and squirrels) invade garbage cans and bird feeders. Raccoons are incredibly intelligent, and very dextrous with their little paws. I would like to impart a few ideas that may help you coexist with these marvelous little bandits. However, as you know, nothing is foolproof.

Securing the garbage can lid with a bungee cord can work wonders. I have never had a raccoon get into my can, and I live in a very wooded area. I also tuck a few unused fabric softener sheets in the can, since the sheets help mask the odor of food. The stronger smelling the sheets, the better.

Raccoons (and squirrels) do love bird seed, especially sunflower seeds. My bird feeders are on a tall pole and have a long piece of stove pipe secured under the feeder platform. Just make sure that the feeder is far enough away from trees, porches, etc. that a raccoon or squirrel cannot climb or jump to the feeder. I also only put out enough food each morning to last the birds throughout the day. That way if a raccoon or squirrel does get to the feeder, you are not losing as much food.

I discourage people from using the cayenne pepper type repellents, since the pepper gets onto the paws and can get into the eyes.

If you have planted annuals and perennials and come out the next morning to find them dug up, it is probably raccoons. However, skunks and opossums do also dig in the fresh dirt. They are looking for worms and grubs in the newly dug soil. I just try to make sure and check my new plantings early in the day, and tuck the plants back into their holes. I don't think I have ever lost a plant because the raccoons have "helped me", but I still do a bit of grumbling under my breath.

One more thing; please, please, do not live trap raccoons and "relocate" them. If the raccoon is a female, her babies will be left without a mother and cannot survive in the wild. My raccoons are not ready for release until they are around 22 weeks old. I receive quite a few raccoons that probably have had their mothers moved to another area. If they are orphaned in the wild, they are left to a horrible fate, even though they may look large enough to be on their own. The lucky ones manage to make it to a rehabilitator to receive a second chance.

It is not unusual to see nocturnal animals during daytime hours, when they are pregnant and nursing their young. They do prefer to be out at night, however, they are hungrier during these times and need to forage more. The possibility that an animal is ill is always a concern and humans should never approach a wild animal. However, seeing a nocturnal animal in the daytime can just be the animal foraging.

As we are invading more and more species habitats, there are more instances of wildlife and humans having a hard time living together. We just need to be the smarter species and try to find ways to coexist.

By Lilly M from NW Michigan

Tip: Trapping Racoons With Marshmallows

Coons love marshmallows. You can use mini ones or cut up a big one. Leave a trail to a cage and put quite a few in the cage. Try to drop them in the middle or the coons just stick their paws in there and grab them. My neighbor and I have just trapped #8.

By Joanie from Spring Branch, TX

Tip: Natural Wild Animal Repellents

"Spray cider vinegar around the plants to deter raccoons, put moth balls in small hardware cloth cages to deter skunks and put human hair around the garden to deter bunnies and deer."

By Robyn F. from Tennessee

Tip: Bird Feeders Attract Raccoons

If you live near a wooded area that has raccoons, don't put out bird feeders! We found the seeds were attracting raccoons to our yard which endangers our cat! Thankfully, once we removed the bird feeders the raccoons went elsewhere for food. They are also attracted to my neighbors apple trees (even though he has 2 large dogs!) These raccoons have no fear!

By Cyinda

Tip: Pinesol To Keep Pests Away

Keep a spray bottle of half Pinesol/half water under your sink spray outside garbage cans or anywhere you have a pest problem. Animals like rodents, opossums, raccoons, etc. don't like the smell.


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Here are questions related to Getting Rid of Raccoons.

Question: Getting Rid of Raccoons Naturally

What is a natural raccoon repellent?

By Budd from Fox Lake, IL

Question: Getting Raccoons to Leave Neighborhood

How do I get rid of raccoons? We didn't know it at the time, but a neighbor family was feeding some wild raccoons. All we knew is that we had raccoons that were multiplying and becoming more and more curious and aggressive about their search for food. Before those neighbors fed the raccoons, the raccoons stayed up in the hills away from neighborhoods, but now they scour the neighborhood looking for food, getting into the trash, getting into people's garages, destroying things on people's decks, and so on.

We have trouble with the raccoons coming right into our home using the pet door for our cats and dogs to go in and out of. Yes, we have two cats and three dogs and still have trouble with the raccoons being bold enough to come right into our home. Anyway, I am writing this post for two reasons. The first is to let people know that when they feed raccoons, there often are consequences to pay down the road, and we neighbors are paying the consequences of this one family's decision to feed the cute raccoons (that family no longer feeds them because they, too, no longer feel the raccoons are cute).

The second reason is to ask if anyone has successfully gotten rid of raccoons once they have taken over a neighborhood. We have tried live traps, and the raccoons won't go in them. We have caught many neighborhood cats, though. Any other suggestions?

Tina from Ashland, OR

Most Recent Answer

By Mary C. (Guest Post)09/26/2008

I listen to the gardener on the radio evey Sunday and people phone in because of this problem. He says to use a cup of peanutbutter, a cup of Captain Crunch cereal and 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper. Mix together and put on any kind of plate.

Question: Getting Rid of Raccoons

I am having raccoon problems bad. They are not scared of people. They are messing all over my deck. Animal control won't pick them up. I called the government place and they wanted $300.00 just to come out, plus $10.00 for each trap. I can't go that way. Can someone give me ideas to run them off, I don't want to hurt them, just scare them off. Thanks.

By cookie17 from VA

Most Recent Answer

By cookie1708/11/2010

Hey, jrpaslay, kelreg, muttmom, & laramay, for all your great help in trying to help get rid of masked bandits. Man next store keeps feeding them so he can have them, lol. Thanks everyone of you. Cookie17

Question: Raccoons in Garage

I noticed a large number of raccoons walking around my garage at 4am one night, they were at the door of the garage scoping it out. It looked like they were trying to figure out access. 5 days later at least one found access. A hole was dug into the foundation behind my garage and a very large raccoon is in the rafters of my garage; this was during daylight. It was obviously not rabid because it was hiding from us. I don't know how to get it out of the garage. I left the doors open all night and day and am afraid to go back in and look in rafters. We also patched the hole in the floor/wall so it can not get in or out through that exit/entrance. The raccoon(s) destroyed my garage, every pot tool, etc. is on the ground, broken or a mess. Why would it stay in my garage? There is no longer trash in there because after I put the trash out I have not put any other trash in the garage.

By Debbie M

Most Recent Answer

By cybergrannie08/14/2013

Hi - my son had a similar problem and when he called animal control (Florida). They told him that he would have to hire a private company to do this as they only deal with cats and dogs.

He checked on local companies that do this and found they were very expensive as they mostly use tranquilizer guns for racoons. He finally bought a cage trap and caught the critter and carried it to a local forest area. (He had a lot of help!)

But, even in a cage these animals can be very dangerous.

Question: Raccoons Living in a Chimney

We bought a 30 year old house 5 years ago that was last lived in by a guy who thought he was handy. Besides replacing and grounding all the wall outlets, we have been redoing a lot of his projects. Your site provides a lot of insight.

The immediate problem is raccoons. They are living in the chimney. We hear scratching and what sounds like construction in the living room wall. I went on the roof yesterday and lowered a trouble light down. The fireplace is a single brick, 3 sided structure with what looks like cellotex on the wall side of the house. I have a feeling it does not meet the current codes. It has 3 clay flues, only one of which is being used as a flue for the furnace and water heater. It is capped. The other 2 are not capped, and there is a lot of empty space.

We do not have a fireplace. The mortar is in good shape inside. I will be reconstructing the top 4 rows of brick and the cap this summer, as the cement has spalled badly. We have a CO meter in the basement, and have had no alarms, so there does not seem to be any blockage in the furnace flue.

I observed 2 roundish holes in the wallboard. One is about 4 feet up from the bottom, and is where we hear the critters in the living room wall. The cats watch it intently. The other hole is where the attic floor is. There is no real access to the attic, only a small trapdoor in a closet in the middle of the house. The cats pay no attention to the ceiling, so I don't think they spend much time up there.

We are on pretty fixed incomes, so a pro is out of the question. The state Fish and Wildlife can't help. The ASPCA said to lower a radio set to a rap station LOUD and this might encourage them to leave. I'm not sure. I coated the extension cord with a Vaseline and red pepper mix so they don't chew it, zapping them might be a good idea, but they stink to high heaven when decomposing.

Any ideas? I can't observe the chimney 24/7, so how do I know when they are gone or out 'cooning around? I will cap the two flues when they are gone, and put coon-be-gone around to keep them from coming back.

Something that makes this even more problematic is the "handyman" (remember him?) built a garage on the side of the house where the chimney is. We have no idea what the construction inside that wall is like. Just in case they chew thru the plaster side into the living room, I keep my 12 gage by the couch.

Any and all advice will be welcomed.

Looking for good raccoon recipes in Ohio.
Debi from Youngstown, OH

Most Recent Answer

By (Guest Post)01/07/2009

Moth Balls. Raccoons & skunks hate mothballs. Expose them to mothballs & they will leave.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Getting Rid of Raccoons

We have a family of raccoons, babies and all, that has started living in a shed we have by a house we are trying to sell. Does anyone have any humane tips for getting these critters to find a new home?

Thanks for any advice.


RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

You can hire someone out of the phone book or call the wildlife department around where you live. I have even seen the police get raccoons out of someone's chimney. (05/26/2009)

By Dan

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

Absolutely. My hubby and I had a family of raccoons living in our attic. We chased them away with a strobe light and loud music. Then sealed the hole where they were coming in while they were away. (05/26/2009)

By aprilwright

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

What ended up working is I went and opened up the shed they were living in so that light got in there during the day. The raccoon and babies decided to move on. So shedding some light on their den made them move on. (05/27/2009)

By lewis_admin

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

A little radio, clock radio, etc. tuned to a talk station and set inside will shoo them away quickly. Music they can learn to ignore, or doesn't bother them at all sometimes, but voices all the time do. You just need to have it loud enough to be annoying, not deafening, and it won't suck up a bunch of electricity. This has kept them at bay on my parent's farm for several years, and they only try to come back when someone unplugs it for a few weeks. (05/29/2009)

By Panktty

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

For $32.00 we bought a couple live traps at Tractor Supply. When the raccoons are getting to be too much, we catch and relocate them to a lake area 35 miles away. The smaller trap is great for catching squirrels. This week I have caught 7 in 5 days. Relocate them as well. (05/29/2009)

By GenW

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

I don't know where you live but in California, you can not move the raccoons as they are protected wildlife. You can call your local animal control and they will give you advice. Good luck. (05/30/2009)

By K9cats

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

Putting crushed mothballs in a shed helps keep out unwanted animals, they must be crushed and replaced when the odor goes away. (05/30/2009)

By mary1day

Archive: Getting Rid of Raccoons

We just put moth balls in our attic to ward away raccoons, but the smell is so strong. Will this go away or do I need to go back and get them out of there?

By Hope from MI

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

The smell will go away. Have you tried hot pepper sauce on the place where they get into your house? It works. Reapply after rain, good luck. (11/02/2009)

By kffrmw88

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

The gardener on our local radio station says to mix a half cup of peanut butter a half cup of Captain Crunch cereal and a half tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Mix all together and place on an aluminum pie dish. The critters will eat this and then get it on their paws. Can't hurt to try. (11/09/2009)

By Mary C.

RE: Getting Rid of Raccoons

Raccoons sleep during the day and prowl by night. The young will return to their birth place to have their own families, so it takes some time to change their patterns. After using every method I could find including trapping and relocating, spraying coyote urine (available on-line) around the entry point was the last and best deterrent I found. (11/12/2009)

By Dee44