Raccoons are intelligent, crafty little thieves. They’ll find brilliant ways to get into your trash, and rummage through whatever else they can get their little paws on. No one wants a gaze of raccoons living in their yard or near their home. And you certainly don’t want your property to be their restaurant of choice every night.
What can you do to keep these furry pests away?
Table of Contents
- How to Keep Raccoons Away
- How to Keep Raccoons Out of The Garden
- How to Repel Raccoons Outside
- How to Deter Raccoons from Your Home
How to Keep Raccoons Away
Raccoons, like any other creature, only invade your home or yard because there’s something there that they need. In most cases, that something is food. While it’s entirely possible that raccoons are looking for water in your yard, it’s more likely that they want to rummage through your garbage cans.
These raccoon control tips will help keep these creatures away:
1. Remove Garbage and Other Raccoon Attractants
If you live in an urban or suburban area, raccoons are probably after your garbage. Take a walk around your yard, and pick up any garbage you can find. Remove all paper and food items you can find.
If you have berry bushes in your yard, find and discard any berries on the ground.
Raccoons won’t stick around if there’s nothing for them to eat, so make sure your yard is spotless.
If you live in a rural area, it may be more difficult to keep raccoons away. Their den may be nearby, and it would be impossible to remove all potential natural food sources. Still, you have control over your yard. The same rules apply: clean up any garbage and food. The raccoons will be far less likely to venture near your home if they have no reason to.
2. Secure Your Garbage Cans
One of the best ways to keep raccoons away from your property is to secure your garbage cans. We’re not talking about buying those cans with loosely-fitting lids and hoping for the best.
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Raccoons are intelligent, resourceful and persistent. If there’s a way to get into your garbage cans, they’ll find it.
How do you keep your garbage cans secure?
- Consider buying a metal can with a tight-fitting lid. The smooth surface of the metal and the tight lid may make your garbage more trouble than it’s worth for raccoons.
- Buy a good lid-securing device, which essentially locks the lid closed to keep critters out.
Both methods are highly effective at keeping raccoons out of your garbage – and consequently out of your yard.
If you can’t or don’t want to use a lid-securing device, you can try placing weights on the lid of the garbage can. The weights will make it difficult or impossible for raccoons to get inside.
How to Keep Raccoons Out of The Garden
Raccoons are omnivorous creatures. In fact, experts say they have the most diverse diet of all species. And since these pests will eat anything they can get their paws on, your garden is ripe for the picking if raccoons are nearby.
If you plant sweet corn, you might as well send dinner invitations to nearby raccoons. These rascals were probably waiting with their salt shakers and sticks of butter the moment you planted those seeds.
Just an FYI: Experts say raccoons are less likely to bother with corn that grows taller and higher up.
So how do you keep them out of your garden, and your food intact?
3. An Electric Fence
Most gardeners say the best way to keep raccoons away from your crops is to install an electric fence. These fences are harsh and upkeep can be expensive, but there’s no denying that they work well.
One zap from the fence, and the raccoons are sure to go running for the hills.
You can buy fences designed specifically for gardens, which are more affordable and easier to install.
You’re not trying to keep cows from roaming, so there’s no need to waste money on a heavy-duty system.
Conventional Garden Fences
If you’d rather not go the electric fence route, you can install a conventional garden fence to keep raccoons out.
Keep in mind, however, that raccoons are excellent climbers. The fence needs to be tall, and ideally, made of a material that is difficult for raccoons to climb. Raccoons avoid forests with beech trees, as their bark is too smooth to climb. Beech wood fencing or other fencing made of smooth material may be difficult or impossible for raccoons to climb.
4. Scare Tactics
Another option is to scare the raccoons away. Some gardeners have had success with using scarecrows, flashing lights, sounds and other tactics to scare these pests from their gardens.
These can be highly effective, but they’re usually just a short-term solution. Unless you give them the scare of their lives, raccoons will get used to these sights and sounds after a few attempts at infiltrating your garden.
They’ll soon realize that your scarecrow is nothing more than a stuffed doll in overalls, and those flashing lights actually help them get a better view of your crops.
There is one scare tactic, or repellent, that works to keep raccoons away: music. Set up a radio in your garden and leave it on all night. Rock stations work the best at keeping raccoons away. Jazz or easy listening may just put them to sleep!
The radio trick is best suited for gardens that are far away from other homes. Otherwise, you might be trading in a raccoon complaint for a noise complaint – two headaches nobody wants.
5. Use Homemade Deterrents
If fencing and scare tactics don’t help, deterrents might.
If you’re growing corn, try sprinkling blood meal. For other plants, sprinkling wood ash can keep these pests away.
Spraying your garden with a mixture of chili powder and ground up garlic can also deter raccoons as wells as other pests.
Keeping raccoons out of the garden is a tough task, so go into it knowing that you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.
How to Repel Raccoons Outside
You’ve cleaned up your yard and raccoon-proofed your garden, but that’s not enough. Those measures are just your last lines of defense. You want repellents that keep them from even getting close to your garbage or garden.
What can you do? Is there an effective raccoon repellent out there?
6. Hot Sauce Spray
One of the most effective solutions is actually a homemade natural raccoon repellent, and it’s a lot like the one we suggested in the garden section.
The recipe for this deterrent comes from Larimer Humane Society in Colorado.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large spray bottle (the kind designed for gardening)
- One small bottle of hot sauce
- Mild dishwashing soap
Mix all ingredients together in the large spray bottle.
The soap helps the pepper in the hot sauce adhere to vegetation in your yard. You’ll need to reapply the spray after watering or rain.
Spraying this solution on the plants around your home, in your garden and near your trash cans will help keep raccoons away.
7. Hot Pepper Spray
Notice a trend yet? Raccoons aren’t fond of spicy peppers, and you can use that to your advantage. While the concept is similar, the recipe for this repellent is different.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 tbsp. chopped jalapeno
- 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. chopped yellow onion
Cook ingredients in two quarts of boiling water for 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, and strain it through a cheesecloth.
This hot pepper spray will repel most wildlife as well as raccoons. But you will need to reapply it every three to five days.
8. Sprinklers and Lights
Imagine sneaking into someone’s yard to steal an apple from their tree when suddenly, the sprinklers turn on and lights flash in your eyes. Now you’re standing there soaking wet and blind. You’d probably turn the other way and run, right?
Raccoons probably wouldn’t wait until they were soaked and blinded to escape. They’d be out the door before the first drop of water landed on their masked noses.
While a little complicated to set up, motion-activated sprinklers and lights can help keep raccoons out of your yard. But like other scare tactics, these critters may grow accustomed to your setup or even find ways to work around it. You’ll need to be just as crafty and clever with this one for it to work for the long-term.
How to Deter Raccoons from Your Home
The best raccoon deterrent is to make your home and property unhospitable. We talked about keeping your yard clean earlier and securing your garbage cans, but there are other things you can do to deter raccoons from entering your home.
9. Clean Up After Yourself and Keep Garbage Cans Closed
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: keeping your yard clean is one of the best ways to deter raccoons.
If you have a picnic table or patio set, make sure that you remove all food and remnants of food from these areas. One little crumb is enough to entice curious and hungry raccoons who think there might be more where that came from.
Next, make sure that garbage is always placed inside cans, and always replace lids immediately. Leaving bags of garbage outside and out of the can is just asking for trouble. Not only will you be attracting raccoons, but you’ll be attracting stray dogs, stray cats and even bears.
If you have a serious raccoon problem, you might consider keeping garbage cans in the garage until pickup day.
One last garbage can tip: if you’re throwing out meat, double-bag it. And for extra measure, spray the bag with bleach or ammonia to make it less attractive to raccoons and other wildlife.
10. Place Ammonia-Soaked Rags in Active Areas
Raccoons may not be in your yard looking for food. They may be looking for shelter. Raccoons can make dens in hallowed out trees, underneath decks, in attics or other sheltered areas.
If you see signs of raccoons, you can use ammonia to deter them.
Raccoons may have no trouble tossing garbage all over the yard, but they are generally very clean creatures. They do not urinate anywhere near their food or home.
Urine – as you know – contains ammonia, and the scent is exceptionally strong. The smell will turn raccoons off and (hopefully) send them running the other way. They also assume that the urine came from another animal, which would also deter them from sticking around.
Place these ammonia-soaked rags anywhere there are signs of raccoon activity.
Note: Please do not try to confront a raccoon in its den or any raccoon for that matter – especially if it’s a mother with her babies. Despite their cute appearance, these pests can be vicious if cornered and will defend themselves from what they believe is a threat (i.e. you).
11. Seal Off Entry Points
What if raccoons are inside your home, and not just in your yard?
We always say that prevention is the best deterrent, and the same is true for raccoons. They wouldn’t be in your home if you had taken prevention measures by sealing up holes and gaps that act as entry points.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, though. No homeowner expects to come face to face with a raccoon or a family of raccoons.
Sealing up entry points will get rid of the raccoons in your attic, and keep them from coming back. Here’s how:
- Identify Entry Points
The first step is to figure out how the raccoons are getting into your home in the first place. You can probably cross off the front door. These pests do all they can to avoid human contact. That’s why they’re typically found in attics or (sometimes) walls.
Entry points must be at least three inches in diameter. If you think they might be in your attic, look underneath dormers, nooks and vents that are broken.
Sounds are an indication of raccoons, but you’ll also want to be on the lookout for urine and feces. Both have strong odors and are easily recognizable. Raccoon poop looks like dog poop.
You may also find evidence of food scraps or damage to your home.
Once you’ve identified all possible entry points, make note of the one the raccoons appear to be using the most.
- Seal Off Entry Points
Next, seal off all possible entry points except for the ones they are using the most. Metal mesh covers are the best solution.
Stuff the most-used entry point with newspaper, and place ammonia-soaked rags in the area.
- Monitor the Stuffed Entry Point for Activity
Keep an eye on the newspaper-stuffed entry point for signs of activity. If the paper moved, hopefully, the raccoons all exited the building.
Stuff the entry point with newspaper again, and monitor it for 48 hours.
- Seal Up Last Entry Point
If the newspaper hasn’t been touched in 48 hours, you can be confident that the raccoons are gone. At this point, you should seal up the final entry point to keep the raccoons from returning.
12. Trapping Raccoons: How to Make a Raccoon Trap at Home
When deterrents fail to work, your next best solution is trapping.
If a raccoon is trapped in your home, please call a professional to remove the animal. Attempting to trap or remove the raccoon yourself may lead to injury.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Tall garbage can
- Picnic table or another long object that’s at least as tall as the garbage can
- Wood plank
Place the garbage can close to the edge of the table, and secure the can with rocks to keep it from tipping over.
Fill the garbage can one-third of the way with water.
Place the plant on the table, and make sure that one end is hanging over the garbage can. The goal is to make sure that the plank is still on the table, but able to tilt forward. The raccoon will fall when it steps onto the overhang.
Place your bait on the overhang.
Check the trap in the morning. If it’s there, carefully release it far away from your home.
Please note that the raccoon may be agitated and angry when you go to release it. That’s why we recommend hiring a professional to trap raccoons.
How to Poison Raccoons
Maybe you’re not interested in trapping raccoons and would rather resort to raccoon poison.
Poison is not recommended for getting rid of raccoons. For one thing, it’s not the best way to get rid of raccoons. If you don’t take care of the root problem, more will take the raccoon’s place.
Second, it’s not the most humane way to tackle the problem. And if you may wind up with a dead raccoon somewhere in your home – somewhere that may not be easy to get to.
Finally, poisoning raccoons may be illegal in some states or cities.
If you want to get rid of raccoons and don’t want to get your hands dirty, your best bet is to call in a professional. A professional will know how to humanely trap the raccoon, and will take care of releasing it far from your property.