How Do You Get Rid of a Raccoon?

How Do You Get Rid of a Raccoon?

Most of us have seen a raccoon, whether in person or as a cute, cuddly cartoon character. Unfortunately, these furry animals are not only dangerous to humans, but can cause significant damage and destruction to both your home and your yard. Raccoons are known to carry several bacterial diseases and parasites including rabies, salmonella, and roundworms.

Although raccoons are wild animals, they are becoming more and more common in urban areas as our population grows and their food and shelter sources diminish. They prefer to make their dens in hollowed out trees but these are fewer and far between in urban areas so they are forced to be more creative in their hunt for a home. Raccoons are now more often getting inside OUR homes, especially in the attic in search of shelter and food.

Raccoons are very dexterous animals and can use their hands to open doors, jars, bottles, and latches. They are also excellent climbers. These skills allow them to access our attics much more easily than other animals. But how do you know if you have a raccoon in or around your home? You can look for any of these signs:

  • Sounds of movement in the attic like scurrying, chewing, crying, or growling, especially at night
  • Tipped over trashcans
  • Emptied or damaged bird feeders
  • Damage to gardens
  • Uncapped chimneys
  • Torn shingles
  • Urine or feces, especially in the attic
  • Tracks which have 5 long toes and fingers, much like human prints

Once you have determined there is a raccoon in your attic, how do you get rid of it? While many people prefer to remove raccoons themselves, it’s not recommended. A wildlife removal company can not only safely remove the raccoons, but also clean up any contamination and offer exclusion methods to prevent them from returning. One thing to consider is that there is often a nest of babies along with the adult raccoon. Baby raccoons must be removed by hand. Wearing thick leather gloves, babies can be picked up by hand and carried out in a pillowcase. They can then be used to trap the adult raccoon or safely relocated. You can also trap the adult by scaring it into a pre-set trap or by catching it with a snare pole and putting it in a cage. Once the raccoons have been caught and removed, inspect your home to find entry points and then seal all areas to prevent raccoons and other pests from getting back into your home.

Most of us would prefer to avoid the process of removing raccoons (or having them removed) from our homes. So what can you do to prevent them from coming into your attic in the first place? Here are 5 tips for keeping raccoons out of your home:

  1. Hide your trash. Store trashcans and recycling bins indoors or in sealed areas such as locked sheds (raccoons can open unlocked doors even if they are closed). If you must keep your trashcans outdoors, use animal proof lids on them.
  2. Hide their food. Remove sources of food and shelter from your property. Cut down old trees that may be hollow. Remove bird feeders at night and be sure to clean underneath them. Don’t leave pet food and water containers out overnight. Keep pet food sealed and preferably inside.
  3. Eliminate their entry points. Inspect the outside of your home for possible access points and repair them. Look for holes in your roof or siding, loose siding and shingles, and holes in your porches or skirting. Cover chimneys with a wire mesh cover or cap. Cover any other exposed openings with wire mesh, as well. Install mesh beneath porches and decks and around your gardens. Consider crawlspace enclosure.
  4. Don’t forget your pets. Lock your pet doors at night. If your pets need access to outside overnight, consider investing in a pet door that operates by a remote sensor in your pet’s collar so that it stays locked until your pet activates the door.
  5. Light up the night. Raccoons are nocturnal animals and prefer the cover of darkness when they roam. Because most raccoons are used to humans, your regular porch light is often not enough to scare them off. Install motion-sensor floodlights in several areas around your home.
5 Ways to Get Rid of Raccoons

5 Ways to Get Rid of Raccoons

Raccoons, a common animal nuisance throughout the U.S., are nocturnal therefore rarely seen during the day. At night, they’ll leave their dens (often your chimney or attic), in search of food and water. Because they’re omnivorous and will eat mostly anything – other animals, fruit, plants, nuts, fish, insects, mice, etc. – there’s likely a food source in or around your home. So what’s the risk? Raccoons are known to carry rabies,  cause significant structural damage to homes, destroy gardens, and leave behind a messy trail of trash after raiding garbage cans left outside.

Prevent disease and destruction by following the 5 tips below.

1. Store Garbage Cans Inside

If left outdoors around your home, trash cans will surely attract raccoons looking for food. Instead, keep garbage stored in your garage, basement, or storage building and take out regularly. If you don’t have storage space indoors, use garbage bins with animal-proof lids.

2. Seal Raccoon Entry Points

Inspect your home regularly for access points – holes, gaps, broken vents, loose siding, broken shingles, etc. – and seal or repair these to prevent raccoons from getting inside.

3. Cover Chimney Openings

Chimneys are common entry points into your home for raccoons. Install a mesh cover or cap over chimney openings to keep them out, or call a wildlife control company to do this for you. They will also inspect your home for other issues and provide you with raccoon exclusion solutions to prevent an invasion.

4. Remove Bird Feeders and Pet Food

Having bird feeders and pet food containers around your home will likely attract raccoons as it provides them with a steady food source. Consider removing bird feeders and only leave pet food out when your pets are eating.

5. Lock Pet Doors at Night

Have a doggie door? This is an obvious and easy opening for raccoons to get in. Once your pet is indoors for the night, lock the pet door. You could also consider installing a door that only opens for your pet via an electronic signal, usually in the form of a collar your pet can wear.

These methods are great for raccoon prevention. If you think you have raccoons living in your attic, chimney, or crawl space, you don’t want to block them inside. Call a professional wildlife trapper that can safely remove the raccoons, clean up contamination, and offer exclusion methods that will keep them from coming back.

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