Apparently nice animals, raccoons are capable to inflict considerable damage to the garden by digging vegetable beds and consuming fruit or penetrating into human-inhabited spaces. And worse still, these animals are disease carriers posing a health hazard to people. According to researchers from the University of Minnesota Extension, a major concern arises when these critters create dens in chimneys or forage in the garbage for food. To sum up, one can imagine the extent to which these shaggy creatures can be destructive. Below, we will give you scientifically grounded recommendations on how to get rid of raccoons. You will learn how to keep raccoons away by implementing such methods as traditional and electric fences, netting, habitat modification, blocking access to the house and other. We have also prepared a review of TOP-8 products to help you decide on the best way to get rid of raccoons.
Raccoons are capable of traveling areas of up to twenty miles in search of food and could be more likely to be encountered in suburban areas than in urban ones. This is due to the fact that raccoon diet includes a wide range of plants and animals which can be easily found in suburbs in large quantities. These are grains, berries, fruits, mice, rabbits, hen eggs, all sorts of insects, garbage, pet food and many more.
Table of Contents
- How to Keep Raccoons Away: What Scientists Advise
- How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Attic
- Comparison Table Of 8 Ways To Get Rid Of Raccoons
- TOP-8 Products to Keep Raccoons Away
All You Should Know about Raccoons and Their Behavior
Raccoons are approximately up to seven feet long weighing between ten and thirty pounds. They have black spots around the eyes making them look like a forest Zorro, except for the fact that a raccoon would rather play the role of a villain pillaging your yard. You can also distinguish a raccoon from lookalike animals by its light and dark rings around the tail. Although preferring wooded areas, they can den within human settlements, in particular, backyards, attics in the houses, barns, and sheds.
These intelligent creatures are not easily detected as they are nocturnal animals going after food at night when you are more likely to be in a deep wonderful sleep. So how to identify what kind of critter digs in the yard, if it goes unnoticed? The scientists of the Michigan State University Extension give some clues to help you understand whether you are dealing with raccoons, moles or skunks. The latter leave holes which are not actually deep and have the size coinciding with that of skunks. Their characteristic feature is that normally scores of such holes can be found within one yard, especially in spring and autumn.
When there are piles of soil on the surface, this is a sign of the presence of moles in the area. Raccoons pull pieces of turf with their paws and are most attracted by those patches of land where the turf has been laid not long ago. Nevertheless, note that skunks and raccoons may visit the garden at the same time and come across each other. In this case, a raccoon is more likely to emerge the winner having driven its rival away from the yard while a skunk when retreating would emit a characteristic foul smell.
Encountered with a wild raccoon, never try to pick it up as it can carry diseases, including the fatal ones. Scott Oneto, a farm advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension, highlights that the disease which goes by the common name “raccoon roundworm” is spread by the critter’s feces. Plenty of roundworm eggs can thrive in feces of the infected animals posing a long-term risk to humans and their pets. No effective treatment has been invented yet against this disease which is why it is highly important to prevent it, first and foremost by timely detection of raccoon latrines. To this end, try to discover their dens which are usually established under tall trees and barns, in attics, on woodpiles or top of roofs.
Researchers from the University of Maryland Extension advise paying attention to aggressive and or, on the contrary, lethargic raccoons as they can be carriers of rabies. In this case, do not act on your own but rather report the problem to the local authorities or animal control center. Worse yet, cases of raccoons being infected with rabies increase in proportion to the growth of the critters’ population. The statistics is alarming and shows that raccoon rabies makes up about 40% of rabies cases occurring in wildlife. If a domestic animal which is not vaccinated has been bitten by an aggressive raccoon, both of them should be euthanized by professionals. However, no human deaths caused by raccoon rabies have been registered yet, whereas the number of infected pets steadily grows. All these are good reasons for you to ponder over how to get rid of a raccoon in your backyard.
How to Keep Raccoons Away: What Scientists Advise
Raccoons are canny and strong animals which is why it is not easy to outwit them just by placing unsophisticated latches on the garden gates. Many of them quickly learn how to unhook such devices and are able to disclose some seemingly sneaky tricks of yours. Therefore, you apparently need reliable solutions to ensure that these critters are excluded from the area of your property. As we have learned, raccoons like using chimneys as den sites, so take care to cap them with spark arresters or heavy metal screens to prevent the unwanted visitors from entering the building. However, before blocking the access, make sure that no creature is left inside. If there are any, call the local animal control service to get them out but never attempt to do it on your own. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension recommend setting a fire in the fireplace for at least two hours to cleanse the site after the raccoons are evicted from there.
Use a galvanized hardware mesh to cover openings under the porch or shed, but take care to bury it no less than six inches deep. Close all openings, but seal them only when all raccoons have been expelled. Researchers from the University of Illinois Extension offer some tips on how to determine whether any critter is left inside. For instance, you may stuff newspaper into the openings in the daytime and check it in two days. If it has not been touched, then feel free to block the opening permanently.
In the garden, you are likely to have difficulties in controlling raccoons. Robert A. Pierce, an extension fish and wildlife specialist at the University of Missouri, points out that placing a woven wire fencing will not be enough to ward off these critters from attacking chicken runs. He notes that they can get over the fencing, dig under it or tear the material and enlarge the hole. In addition, when raccoons smell ripe fruit in the garden, they are more motivated to breach the obstacle and are more persistent what makes the task more complicated. “If a fence is already present, the addition of a single wire about 8 inches from the fence and 8 inches above the ground electrified with a charger will provide an effective deterrent,” Robert A. Pierce specified.
Roger A. Baldwin, an assistant Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, also suggests taking advantage of the efficiency of electric shock as ordinary fences are of little use in the management of these critters. An electrified strand of wire can be passed round the tree trunk to prevent raccoons from getting on it. To protect fruit crops, install an electric fence with two wires fixed to wooden posts. The vertical space between them should not exceed six inches. To save energy and avoid harming your pets, activate a high-voltage fence charger overnight only since raccoons are nocturnal animals. Install such kind of fencing around the pond to deter these critters from getting to fish as well as in the area of a newly laid turf which is attractive to raccoons as an abundant source of grubs. The latter can be removed when the sod has taken root. Be sure that all required warning signs are present on the electric fence otherwise it can cause unwanted harm.
How to Repel and Frighten Raccoons
Robert A. Pierce from the University of Missouri indicates that no chemical repellents have been registered for managing raccoons but notes that multiple tests have been conducted in this field. According to him, however, mothballs may be helpful in warding off raccoons from enclosed areas in the building. But still, using mothball is believed to be a short-term solution, such as expelling critters from the attic before sealing all openings. Meanwhile, scientist from the University of California claim that no available solutions, both commercial and homemade, have been proved effective against raccoons. The main reason is that raccoons once being frightened subsequently adapt to many offensive odors, especially when hungry or in search for a shelter.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to use repellents as an additional protection to improve the results of your control strategy. Apart from mothballs, this includes blood meal, ammonia and others. Keep in mind that the repulsive odor diminishes over time which is why you will have to re-apply the product repeatedly. Some solutions are really helpful in achieving certain goals. For example, a team of scientists recommend using fluids consisting of the urine of male raccoons inside the building. The smell of the male will force nursing racoon with her young out of the den what will definitely help you deal with raccoon breeding problem.
Scare tactics include ultrasonic devices, motion-activated sprinklers, detonating gas exploders, the use of predator calls and other other solutions. This drawback for this approach is that raccoons, being extremely intelligent and inventive, not only get accustomed to these irritating noises and dousing with water but also quickly learn how to avoid the obstacles. In this case, first, consider frightening as a short-term solution and, second, be creative making it hard for the critters to outwit you. For example, purchase two and more motion-activated sprinklers so that raccoons would not be able to approach them from behind.
Catching And Killing. Legal Status of Raccoons
Experts from the Texas Wildlife Damage Management Service claim that trapping is the most efficient way to get rid of raccoons. If the problem occurs in suburbs, they suggest using a cage trap because domestic animals can be wrongly caught. In this case, they will be just released without being harmed. A typical device can be bought from the sore you be handmade but anyway the construction should meet certain requirements.
First, its dimensions should not be less than 10 x 12 x 36 inches. Second, take into account that raccoons are good at digging, therefore, place a sheet of plywood beneath it and anchor the cage to a tree or the ground. Third, selecting the bait, avoid meat, otherwise, there will be more chances to attract cats and dogs which are apparently not the target of this undertaking. Fruit, jam, and sweet corns are the most appropriate choice for the bait. Scott Craven, a UW-Extension Wildlife Specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, advise using live-traps with reinforcing wire or bars as these critters are very strong and cannot be easily kept hold of.
To control raccoons in rural areas, it is a good option to use leghold traps which have different variations. One of the solutions involves placing it approximately half an inch below the ground and disguising it with sifted soil. Place a piece of tissue between the device and dirt so that the latter would not get into the construction. You may attract the critter by digging a hole just behind it and putting a lure inside. In swampy areas, water sets are frequently exploited because they come unnoticeable to raccoons and do not require baits. Set it three inches beneath the surface and cover with silt. To lure a raccoon, attach a bright object there, such as aluminum foil, which is likely to tempt this curious animal to come closer and explore an amazing find.
When handling the caught animal, be careful because they can bite you and infect with dangerous diseases they might carry. The raccoon can be either released within one hundred yards of where it was captured, or handed over to a vet clinic, or euthanized. However, your choice will also be determined by the national legislation of the state where the animal was captured. Within the United States, raccoons legal status varies depending on the state. In Texas, for example, furbearers can be captured anytime while in Missouri special seasons are established. In California, the relocation of raccoons is forbidden without a written permission issued by the local authorities. In any case, check the updated information in the local Department of Fish and Wildlife to abide by the law.
Shooting. In some areas homeowners can shoot raccoons in case these critters cause tangible damage to their property. However, this practice is often limited by season or restricted by the law depending on the state. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension note that in many municipalities discharging of firearms within the area is forbidden. Also, shooting is not considered to be an effective solution against raccoons as they are nocturnal animals and emerge on the property at night when the visibility is low. For this reason, it is hard to fire a clean shot, given that turning on illumination will only frighten the critter. But still, in rural areas, shooting is sometimes is the only way out, particularly where raccoon pressure is high.
Poisons. Using poisons is inhumane as they cause prolonged suffering death and are likely to cause a lot of problems. But first of all, they are illegal because all registered rodenticides are intended for rats only. Apart from that, it is impossible to force the animal to eat the correct dose, and if it does not, this will only result in animal’s suffering. In addition, the poison may be eaten by other animal, including pets, and it will be a really lamented event. And finally, poisoned animals do not die immediately and you never know where the dead raccoon may be while the animal’s rotting carcass will pose much more serious hazard to human health and comfort.
How To Get Rid Of Raccoons In Attic
Approaches implemented indoors and outdoors vary, therefore removing these critters from the building differs from how to get rid of raccoons in my yard. Raccoons usually prefer attics because they are dry, warm and look safe. One of the troubles you face and have to take into account is that, as a rule, there are young raccoons in the attic which are helpless and are hard to be expelled. Those tiny babies cannot be trapped, so you will have to remove them by yourself. If you have not detected them, wait in silence for half an hour and you will hear them making sounds in a while.
Dealing with adult critters, use repellents such as moth balls or ultrasonic device to force them out and then seal the holes. There is also an option to scare the animal out right into a trap preliminary set near the entrance. Once the animals are removed and all access is blocked, clean up the attic as raccoon odor may be an attractant. Keep in mind that feces and urine may be the source of infection which is why do the cleaning thoroughly using soapy water. Apart from that, do it wearing a mask and gloves in order not to put your health at risk.
Comparison Table Of 8 Ways To Get Rid Of Raccoons
|Woven wire fencing||exclusion||traditional option, does not depend on electricity supply||ineffective when raccoons are highly motivated; raccoons can dig under and climb over it, as well as make a hole in the fence.||7|
|Electric fence||exclusion||raccoons are known to be sensible to electric shock; reliable and efficient way of protecting buildings and yards; an electrified strand of wire can be the addition to an ordinary fence; easy to install and remove||requires stable electricity supply; other animals or children can be exposed to electric shock||10|
|Screening openings||exclusion||does not harm the critters; reliable and efficient way of protecting buildings and yards||labor-consuming; may require the involvement of professionals; you need to be sure that no raccoon is left inside after all access has been blocked; if a hardware mesh is not buried deep into the ground, raccoons will be able to burrow into.||10|
|Cage traps||animal removal||considered to be most efficient way to get rid of raccoons; recommended for urban areas; does not imply killing the animal; offers a possibility to relocate the captured raccoon without harming it; accidental capturing of a wrong animal does not have any negative implications||requires reinforcing wires or bars, as well as anchoring to a tree, because raccoons are powerful enough to get out; you have to comply with local regulations in case there are restrictions||10|
|Leghold traps||animal removal||recommended for rural and swampy areas||a wrong animal can be harmed; not easy to set it properly; poses more risks in handling the captured animal; you have to comply with local regulations in case there are restrictions||8|
|Mothballs, blood meal, ammonia (sprays or granules)||repellents||a good supplementary means of deterring raccoons; mothballs useful in warding off raccoons from enclosed areas before sealing openings; helpful in achieving certain goals such as expelling nursing racoon from her den using the male urine odor.||no registered chemicals against raccoons; short-term solution; raccoons quickly adapt; repulsive odor diminishes over time; requires re-application||7|
|Ultrasonic devices, motion-activated sprinklers, detonating gas exploders||scare tactics||Initially work; a good supplementary means of the garden protection||raccoons quickly get accustomed to noises and quickly learn to avoid the obstacles; short-term solution||8|
|Reducing the availability of food / landscaping||habitat modification||enhance sanitation inside and outside the house; usually does not require extra spending; does not harm animals; environmentally friendly||labor-consuming; does not significantly reduce the number of raccoons in the area||9|
|Killing (shooting, euthanasia, poisons)||animal removal||euthanasia conducted by professionals is the most recommended method; shooting may be preferable in rural areas in case it is legal (check the local ordinance)||killing is considered to be the last resort; discharging of firearms is not allowed by many municipalities; shooting is not effective at night due to low visibility; using poisons is illegal and inhumane; rodenticides are labelled for rats and mice only; poisoned animal dies within a day or more and its rotting body may not be found easily in the house; it is impossible to make a raccoon eat the correct dose of the poison; a wrong animal or pet can be poisoned||2|
TOP-8 Products To Keep Raccoons Away
The review below covers the most popular products on which are considered to be effective in a raccoon control. We have examined sprays and granules based on such natural ingredients as pepper, garlic and rosemary while granules with coyote urine are believed to imitate the presence of a predator. We have studied a reliable motion-activated sprinkler made of metal and brass and an ultrasonic device which scares animals out both by sound and lights. There are also two options of deterrent lights in our review, one of which is a portable solar-powered unit and another is a motion-activated one. We have also examined a commercially available cage trap designed for capturing raccoons.
Havahart Critter Ridder 3146
This product with active ingredients including oil of black pepper, peperine, and capsaicin is labelled for deterring raccoons and plenty of other nuisance animals. It affects the animal by odor or taste and is recommended to be applied both inside and outside the building. Apply the stuff in the garden or in the building’s basements, attics and storage or shake granules in a flowerpot to obtain the desired result.
This granular formula is rain-resistant with the effect lasting for a month. A drawback for the product is that it covers just three hundred square feet what is less than the coverage of typical sprays. The product rates 2.8 out of 5 stars in reviews. Disgruntled buyers lament the necessity to re-apply the stuff after heavy rain and the high price. Some users claim that the product does not work against critters.
Rodent Defense Spray – 32oz
The spray is promoted as an effective way to ward off raccoons. Its active ingredients are oils of garlic, peppermint, rosemary and white pepper. Compared with the previous product, it can be sprayed almost everywhere as it can get into the thinnest crevices. Use it not only indoors and outdoors, but also in semi-enclosed areas. The product is suggested for using in the attic, around trash cans, and other spaces.
However, there are some weak points. The stuff should not be sprayed directly on food or eatables in the garden. When applied outdoors, it has to be re-applied twice a week and after a rain. After using the product indoors, air the room for several minutes while in well-ventilated spaces it can be sprayed generously.
Rodent Defense has scored 3.4 out of 5 stars in reviews. Some users complain that in an open environment the product does not remain concentrated enough to deter critters. “Raccoons still attack my bird feeder even though I sprayed the entire area with the product,” one of the customers laments.
Shake-Away Animal Repellent - 28.5 oz size
The produces indicates that this product contains coyote urine as an active ingredient which efficiently deters armadillos, deer, and raccoons. The effect is based on these animals’ fear of the predator, the presence of which is imitated by the odor of coyote’s urine. However, it has not been scientifically proven that coyote urine really works against raccoons. According to Stanley D. Gehrt and Suzanne Prange from the Ohio State University, conducted experiments have shown that raccoons did not tend to avoid specific sites that had been marked with coyote urine. This suggests that coyotes are not a significant source of mortality for raccoons and often are not perceived by them as a threat to their lives.
Shake-Away granules have an advantage of being a safe and eco-friendly way of deterring animals. They should be sprinkled in the sites where the presence of critters has been detected. The product rates 3.4 out of 5 stars. One user has come up with an idea to apply ammonia spray and coyote urine granules on the exterior wall at one time to enhance the efficacy.
Orbit 62100 Motion Activated Sprinkler
This sprinkler is launched once its sensor detects anyone moving within the range of the device and can be tuned to operating at night or during the daytime. It is equipped with a smart sensing technology ensuring optimization of water and energy consumption. What else counts in favor of the device is that it can be exploited not only as a deterrent but as a regular sprinkler as well. Made of metal and brass, the sprinkler is designed as a stable and reliable construction. It has a viewing angle of 120 degrees and covers 1600 square feet of an area. The manufacturer claims that, among other animals, the sprinkler wards off raccoons.
The product has scored 3.9 out of 5 stars in reviews. One customer has shared his experience in raccoon control with the use of the sprinkle. It seems that these critters are really smart as they managed to develop a plan for knocking down the device: “The Intelligence Section of the Raccoon Army had figured out that if they approached it from behind it wouldn't go off and they pushed it over so that the sensor was pointing at the ground and was ineffectual,” he said. Nevertheless, this failure has not discouraged the customer from exploiting the sprinkle, moreover, he is intended to purchase one more so that both units will “cover each other’s back.”
Predator Guard Deterrent Light
This predator control device is exploited worldwide as a method to deter predators, including raccoons, from the livestock and crops. The apparatus is energy-efficient as it operates on solar energy, moreover, the device is easy to handle as it does not require maintenance. The idea of this device is that nocturnal predators feed only in that sites where they believe to be unnoticed. When animals see two flashing lights of the apparatus, they perceive them as someone’s eyes gazing at them. This makes the predators feel unsafe and eventually retreat.
Predator Guard has scored 3.8 out of 5 stars, with 1,904 customer reviews. The producer provides a three-year warranty for the product although its failure is highly improbable. Given such a moderate price, the offer seems to be quite favorable. As for raccoons, these critters are said to be effectively deterred by this device only in case they are wild and do not regularly visit human settlements and the garden, in particular. If raccoons have got accustomed to your property, the product will be less effective. However, some customers have experienced success with the device, for example, when placing it inside the door of a hen house.
Hoont Ultrasonic Motion Activated Repeller
Its ultrasonic sounds are said to deter raccoons and other critters. Apart from that, flashing lights also affect the animals which visit yard at night. However, Jason M. Gilsdorf from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln notes that raccoons accustomed to human-inhabited areas are hard to be frightened in such a way.
However, the product’s advantage is that it does not involve spraying or sprinkling chemicals. The apparatus does not harm animals, nor does it inflict any damage to the environment, garden or residents of the house. Although being made of plastic, the construction is rainproof and solid. The device operates from solar energy and has numerous frequency and sensitivity settings. The product rates 3.5 out of 5 stars in reviews. One user claims that this ultrasonic pest repeller deters raccoons instantly but notes that it is not still clear to him, whether it is the sound or the lights that frighten critters.
LIGHT IT by Fulcrum 20034-104 Motion Sensor Porch Light
Although this wireless porch light is not designed specifically to keep raccoons away, you may find it useful in controlling these critters. As we have noted when reviewing the ultrasonic device, it is not only sounds but lights as well that helps deter these animals. Fulcrum porch light has twelve LEDs which are so powerful that can illuminate the darkest places inside and outside the building.
What is crucial, the device is activated by motion what ensures reduction of energy consumption and increases chances of critters’ being frightened by a sudden flash light. Being wireless, the porch light is easy to mount in most of the sites attracting raccoons such as the building’s attic or a shed. The product has scored 4.0 out of 5 stars, with 61% of the consumers giving it five stars. Some of the users point out possible malfunction when the temperature drops.
Havahart 1045 Live Animal Two-Door Raccoon Trap
It is made of a wire mesh, it is durable and rust-resistant. According to the manufacturer, the gaps are smaller in size compared with similar products of other producers which makes it safer to handle the captured animal and will not let it escape. The cage has doors on both sides to increase the likelihood of a critter being captured. The device is advertised to be a good option for catching raccoons and some other nuisance animals. For raccoons, a recommended bait includes fish and marshmallows.
The product is popular with users, rating 4.3 out of 5 stars in consumer reviews. Customers highlight the benefits of the availability of two doors as a critter feels safer when the other end is not obstructed. However, some users complain that raccoons are too smart and avoid getting captured, others believe that the cage is not big enough to attract these critters.
Products To Keep Raccoons Away: Comparative Chart
Havahart Critter Ridder
|active ingredients: oil of black pepper, peperine, and capsaicin; granules|
|active ingredients: oil of garlic, peppermint, rosemary and white pepper; spray|
|active ingredient is coyote urine; granules|
Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer
|motion activated sprinkler made of metal and brass|
|deterrent light; solar-powered|
LIGHT IT by Fulcrum
|deterrent light; wireless; motion-activated|
Raccoon Prevention & Habitat Modification
Raccoons visit gardens and try to penetrate into human-inhabited spaces for two reasons — to find food or establish a den. That is why it would be wise to take all possible steps to decrease their motivation before everything else by reducing the availability of food sources.
- Thick-growing bushes may be appealing to these animals as a potential den, therefore you should regularly prune bushes to make them thinner.
- Cut tree branches which allow raccoons to get on the house roof and remove all other “bridges” connecting rooftops with the ground surface.
- Gretchen Voyle from the Michigan State University Extension advises treating soil and plants with insecticides to kill grubs and other insects which entice raccoons as the source of food. Generally, the presence of these insects is the main reason for them to visit the garden.
- Placing covered metal garbage cans will be helpful as well as fixing them to any supporting structures.
- Do not leave pet food outside the house at night, nor should be fallen fruit or nuts available in the garden to the critters.
- Do not practice feeding raccoons near your house and ask your neighbors not to do it either.
Mint-X Rodent Repellent Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, 13 gal. Capacity
A trash bag designed to deter rodents with a mint odor is a good option as a supplementary measure in your raccoon control strategy. Apart from that, these bags neutralize unpleasant odors which are normally associated with household waste. The product is durable and strong enough to hold up a significant weight. It is advertised to be used in buildings, in particularly the basements, in public parks, schools and other sites with plenty of leftovers generated on a daily basis. However, you should take into account that the odor lasts just for some days which is why this is not an option to store clothes or other items.
The product has scored 3.9 out of 5 stars in reviews. Some consumers say that the bags do deter raccoons, while others are not satisfied with the effect. This difference of opinion is understandable since much depends on the level of the raccoon’s motivation and other circumstances which vary depending on the area.
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