When raccoons are staking claim on your property you may feel helpless about how to get rid of them. But luckily there are some easy ways you can keep raccoons out of your house and off your property for good.
So, just how easy is it to keep raccoons away? It can be as simple as cleaning up your yard and securing your garbage cans. Or you may have to invest in some motion-detection technology and make your home more secure to repel those raccoons.
There are certain hot spots in your yard which need to be addressed to successfully keep the raccoons away permanently. And although raccoons are interesting animals, they easily spread disease, can injure you and your pets, and are just general nuisances so it’s important to act fast.
How to Keep Raccoons Away From Your Yard
If you suspect raccoons have been coming into your yard it’s time to take action! Evidence raccoons have been nearby:
- Small 5 toed footprints in the dirt or mud
- Garbage and compost bins are knocked over and rooted through
- Scratch marks at the base of trees or other wooden structures
- Droppings left behind near puddles or at the base of trees
- You’ve been hearing low growls and shuffling sounds
Ask your neighbors if they’ve seen evidence of raccoons too. Maybe your neighbors are having issues with raccoons too. If this is the case, you’ll need to work together to find out why raccoons are hanging out in your area and employ solutions to get rid of them.
Perhaps one of your neighbors has been feeding them, or they’re unaware that something they’re doing is drawing them to the area. If the problem continues even after all avenues have been exhausted you should contact your local city department to see if they have any solutions or suggestions for you.
Clean up your yard. Raccoons love trash! Your food scraps are like gold to them. Especially if you are throwing out food scraps! And once they know your garbage is there, they will come looking for it regularly.
Keep your yard clean and make sure to properly secure any bags of garbage. Raccoons will dig through bags and spread it everywhere if you don’t.
Secure your bird feeders. When you put out a bird feeder, you’re likely going to be feeding more than the birds. Raccoons enjoy seeds and bird feed just as much as the birds do.
Raccoons can climb up fences and trees so make sure your feeder is secured high up a pole or on the side of a building with no easy access for raccoons. And you may want to consider spraying the pole or just underneath the feeder with a raccoon repellent – just be careful not to spray it right on the feeder or the food.
Prune your fruit trees.The fruit on your tree is delicious and raccoons are aware of that fact. And low hanging fruit is a great way for them to have a meal without going to too much effort.
Although you may not care all that much if the raccoons eat the fruit which has already fallen to the ground, it’s still important not to let them. They develop a taste for it and want to search for more – by pulling the branches and climbing up the trees to get it.
Clean up the fallen fruit as soon as you can to deter them in the first place, and try to keep the lower branches cut back or picked of all fruit. You may also need to pick fruit hanging near fences and other access points.
Clear away any food and water sources. If you leave bowls of food and/or water out for your pets you should start bringing them inside at night. Raccoons will come back night after night for these treats if you leave them out.
Keep an eye on your doghouse and other structures. Not only are sheds and doghouses great, warm places for a raccoon to take shelter during inclement weather, but sometimes they can find food in there. Leftover dog food or treats, or a bag of birdseed tucked in the back of a shed are treasures to raccoons.
Do what you can to secure these spots – keeping in mind that even adult raccoons can fit through openings as small as 4 inches. If a raccoon has already made themselves at home in there, you’ll want to pick up a live raccoon trap to safely trap and relocate them. Then block off any access they may have to these outdoor spaces. These are other great places to spray raccoon deterrent.
Your garage, large sheds, and even inside your home are all areas not immune to raccoons. Often garbage is stored in sheds, or you use your garage as a pantry – which means a food source for hungry raccoons. Keep these areas secured by sealing off any openings. And use high quality, strong window screens if you’re going to leave any windows open.
How to Keep Raccoons Out Of Your Garden
If you’re seeing evidence that raccoons have invaded your garden there are some steps you can take to let them know they’re not welcome in there.
Install motion-activated sprinklers. Chances are you have sprinklers in your garden anyway, so why not get motion activated ones. These will turn on when a raccoon or other critter enters your area – and hopefully scare them off and prevent them from returning.
Install motion-activated lights. Raccoons are creatures who prefer to do their prowling in the dark. So, by installing lights which will come on suddenly when movement is detected this may help to scare them and chase them away.
Install motion-activated noise machines. Raccoons don’t like noise so you can put out a motion-activated detector which sounds a noise whenever something comes into its range. Some of these are high pitched so generally only an animal hears it, while some of them emit an audible unpleasant sound. These latter kind likely upset you and your neighbors if it keeps going off throughout the night so choose wisely if you pick this option.
Use raccoon repellent. You can buy sprays, drops, and other liquids which should help keep raccoons out of where they’re not supposed to be. Sprinkle these around or on whatever you are trying to keep the raccoon off or out of. Check the label of the one you buy, however, because while most of them are simply bitter and unpleasant to smell and taste, some can be toxic to animals.
There are also several options for making raccoon repellent, which we will cover in a later section.
Do Raccoons Eat Garden Vegetables?
Raccoons aren’t picky when it comes to what they eat. From fruits and vegetables to fish and other meat as well as nuts and seeds – raccoons simply look for a food source.
And although fruit seems to lure raccoons more into gardens because of the sweet smell, they will certainly continue to visit your garden if they know you have a good source of vegetables.
What Home Products Help Repel Raccoons?
There are a few different products you likely have around your home which you can use to repel raccoons with.
Peppers. Raccoons hate anything hot and spicy, especially peppers. Spray or sprinkle hot sauce or a blend of hot peppers and boiled water around areas you want to repel raccoons.
Ammonia. Soak rags in ammonia or fill a spray bottle with an ammonia mix and apply it around your garden or other areas. Spraying it directly into your trash can will help keep raccoons away from them.
Be careful not to spray it directly into your garden as it can kill your plants, and be potentially toxic if you eat something grown in ammonia soaked soil.
Epsom salts. Although they may not have a super strong scent to humans, raccoons truly hate the smell of Epsom salts. These are a very effective way to keep raccoons out of your garden as the smell shouldn’t be off-putting to anyone who wants to stroll through your garden like the scent of ammonia or peppers might be.
You do need to sprinkle Epsom salts in your garden more frequently than if you were using another method however because they will disintegrate faster and become less effective. You’ll want to do it weekly – and even more if it rains.
Do Mothballs Keep Raccoons Away?
Mothballs will typically keep raccoons away because raccoons are put off by their strong chemical smell. However, mothballs shouldn’t necessarily be your first choice when it comes to getting rid of raccoons.
Mothballs contain chemicals and other pesticides which aren’t healthy if ingested or even breathed in. Some cats or dogs may lick or eat mothballs which can potentially be deadly.
If put in a shed, attic, or basement the chemical smell can linger and seep into other items – and even contaminate walls and flooring. And if they’re left outside the chemicals can seep into soil or water nearby and contaminate it.
How to Keep Raccoons Out Of Your Garbage Cans
Raccoons love garbage and compost heaps – all the yummy food they find in there keeps them coming back for more. Raccoons can work their tiny little hands to unclasp the lid on your garbage can or compost bin. And they are experts at knocking the cans down and clawing at them until they open.
Chances are if you can keep raccoons out of your garbage, they’ll stop coming around your yard. There are many ways you can do this:
Always keep your garbage and compost cleaned up. Nothing will draw raccoons to your yard faster than having garbage – especially food scraps – laying around. This means if raccoons do knock over your cans and spread the scraps around you should clean it all up as soon as possible.
And be wary to keep your bins tightly sealed every time you put something in. Even leaving it open for a few hours can be enough for the raccoons to notice they’re open.
Secure the lids. Get secure straps for your garbage and compost lids to make it even harder for them to break in. You can buy special bungee cords for securing your lids so the raccoons can’t get them off.
Motion-activated detectors. You can use any of the motion detectors – water, light, or noise – described above to keep raccoons away from the area you have your compost and keep your garbage cans.
Use raccoon deterrent. Sprinkle raccoon deterrent around the cans. This should help raccoons be deterred from what’s inside the cans. You can either buy a commercial brand or try one of the natural household deterrents listed above.
Don’t be discouraged if you continue to see raccoons hanging around your trash for a few weeks after you take these measures. Raccoons know where the good food is and they will try at least a few more times to access your garbage before giving up for food.
How to Keep Raccoons Out Of Your Pool
Raccoons dislike water so it’s quite rare to find a raccoon swimming in your pool, however, most of them will dip a paw or two in the water to bathe themselves. And most raccoons love to use swimming pools and other water sources for pooping in! Since this is a major health hazard, you’ll want to discourage the raccoons from doing this as soon as possible.
Always keep your pool covered when not in use. You should keep your pool covered for several reasons, but keeping raccoons and other critters out is top of the list due to health issues. Get a strong, secure cover which fits your pool exactly and use it every time you are not using your pool for even a short length of time.
Check your cover at least a few times a year for any holes, rips, and sags. These openings could provide a raccoon the perfect place to dip their toes in.
Put up a secure fence around your pool. Raccoons can always find a way to get over a fence, especially if there are trees, sheds, and other structures around to help them climb up. Fences will act as a bit of deterrent but you need to make sure there are no openings or weak spots.
How to Keep Raccoons Out Of Your Pond
Much like with pools, raccoons aren’t usually looking to go for a swim in your pond, but they would like to bathe themselves, splash around a bit, and poop. Plus, ponds often offer the bonus of containing fish and other plants and insects that raccoons want to eat.
Put up netting. Covering your pond with mesh or strong netting should be enough to keep some raccoons out. But some stubborn, hungry ones will rip into the netting or push it down unless it’s secured very well.
Sprinkle raccoon repellent around your pond. When you use a commercial raccoon repellent or another household raccoon repellent around your pond it will help to send the raccoons away. However, depending on which type you use it could also potentially harm your fish, plants, and other ecosystems. And if you or your kids like to sit near the pond, you’ll likely find the smell of most of these off-putting.
Be careful about how you feed your fish. If you have fish or other creatures in your pond, you’ll need to be very careful about keeping any food you give them stored securely.
And make sure you feed directly into the pool or in a certain area you can keep clean. Sprinkling or haphazardly throwing a handful of feed into the pool means it’s likely scattering around – and raccoons will come out to clean up the mess.
What Are Raccoons Afraid Of?
Although they may seem fairly fearless when it comes to their scavenging and tearing through your yard raccoons are afraid of a surprising number of things:
- Most other animals
- Sprinklers (getting wet unexpectedly)
Raccoons would rather not have an altercation with another animal such as a cat or a dog, and will likely avoid a situation where other animals are. But it’s important to note that if they are starving, caught off guard, or in a situation where another animal is impeding their chance of a food source or escape, they will lash out – no matter how large the other animal. And since their claws and teeth are very sharp this can seriously injure the animal.
Will Lights Deter Raccoons?
Raccoons are generally nocturnal animals, but as forests disappear and they are exposed to more civilized areas we are starting to see them more often during the day as they scavenge for food and shelter.
But yes, they do still dislike light and won’t usually wander into an area that’s too brightly lit – unless they are starving. And a bright light which comes on suddenly (like a motion-activated light) will not only blind them, but scare them, and is a great way to prevent raccoons from returning to an area.
Can Raccoons Break Through A Ceiling?
The typical raccoon weighs between 10 and 30 pounds so they’re not likely to come crashing through the ceiling simply by walking around in an attic.
However, if a raccoon – or a raccoon family – makes itself at home in your attic or another space in your home there are some ways they can break down the ceiling or walls.
Urine. If a raccoon is constantly peeing in one spot over time – as they are apt to do – it can wear down the wood and any flooring and create a weak spot which could eventually break through if weight is put on it.
Chewing and scratching. Again, any amount of chewing a raccoon can do in a few hours is not likely to do too much damage. But if a family of raccoons is chewing or scratching for a period of a few weeks or months this could potentially cause enough damage to weaken a floor or a wall, creating major damage.
How to Prevent Raccoons From Entering Your House
If you can prevent raccoons from getting into your home in the first place that’s ideal.
Secure your cat/door. If raccoons smell food, they’ll walk right through your pet door. You may need to lock your cat door at night, or even permanently.
Fix all siding. As mentioned before, raccoons can fit into very small holes, so if you have any gaps in your siding they can get in!
Check your chimney. Another common entrance a raccoon will use to get into your house is the chimney. Make sure your chimney has firesafe heavy mesh or sheet metal to cover the opening.
Keep your windows closed. Raccoons won’t hesitate to crawl in through an open window. Keep all windows closed or secured with a heavy-duty screen, especially if they are easily accessible from the ground, a tree branch, fence, or other objects.
If a raccoon has already made itself at home in your home or yard you can try to shoo it out by leaving windows or doors open and luring it out with food. But in some cases, you must set a live trap to catch it. Once you catch the raccoon, you’ll have to relocate it or contact your local humane society to retrieve it.
Erika Palmer is a Mom and freelance writer located in Beautiful British Columbia. She is currently working hard to create a home for her new family and is stumbling hilariously down the road to becoming a domestic goddess. In addition to her love of family, and reading and writing, she enjoys exploring new interests with friends, shopping for just about anything, and cuddling up with a great cup of tea and some sort of chocolate treat.