How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Your Backyard

Bill Taylor
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Signs and Behavior of Raccoons

Raccoons are nocturnal and may choose areas to live in that border woods and water. They prefer an easy access point such as an open window, but will make their way into an attic or a crawl space. When confronted with a human, raccoons will run as far away as possible. If your raccoon has made a nest in your attic or around your home, he is no longer afraid and has decided to make a home there. Calls to animal control will only get the raccoon moved and it will be back within hours.

Raccoons like to stay in their homes at night and sleep during the day, so noises and major movement may invite raccoons around to see what is going on. Try to conserve energy, do not run the dryer, use the washer and dryer, slam the door, etc. Use energy efficient light bulbs, do your laundry in the evening or early morning, when the raccoon is not able to check on you, clean the house while the baby naps or is asleep for the night, and close your curtains. Also, if you have a pet, make sure you close the door to the room when you are not home, like when you teach your bridal shawl class.

Why Raccoons Are Visiting Your Home

Raccoons are just like any other wild animal and are attracted to your home because of food, water, and shelter. They have a knack for finding food in your trash cans and hummingbird feeders. They like to find water in your swans and yard ponds. Raccoons enjoy shelter in the attic of your home, and will also find their way into pet doors as they look for food or shelter.

What You Can Do

Here are some humane and natural ways to deter raccoons from coming around and raiding your trash cans or digging up your lawn.

If you are frequenting a park that is frequented by raccoons, make sure to not leave your waste behind. Bury it, put it in a closed container or take it with you.

Fish ponds stimulate the raccoons’ natural instinct to catch fish, but it also is an effective boundary. If you have fish ponds in your garden or home, raccoons are at a minimum. If the raccoons do come around and bother you, scare them away using water cannons or other devices that scare the animals with water or noise. Raccoons are very likely to stay away when subjected to such shocks.

Motion activated sprinklers can also be used to scare off raccoons. Putting some grated ginger or citrus fruits, such as lime halves, in your garden may be helpful just like in the case of other pests. This will disturb the raccoons’ natural scent. In case the raccoons’ behavior confuses you, you can target your solution by keeping a log. It may be easy to see the impact the solutions are having. It will also help you determine the correct solution to address the problem.

Remove Raccoon Attractants

The first step in getting rid of raccoons would be to remove the food attractants they are looking for. If there is left over dog or cat food, garbage, fruit trees and compost, remove these attractants. Store food and garbage in the garage or in metal cans with tight lids. Keep pet food indoors. If there isn’t a compost pile, put food scraps in the outdoor garbage can.

It is also a good idea to keep the outside of your home clear of any bird feeders. Raccoons can easily jump over most fences and climb a tree. By removing the attractants you will take away a lot of their incentive to get into your yard.

Keep Your Backyard Clean

Raccoons act as scavengers. They’ll take whatever and whenever they can. In the lawn, trashcans, and any other edible garbage things you have out back. Raccoons can be a nuisance and it is essential to get rid of them.

There are a few things you can do to prevent raccoons from getting into your trash. The first step to ridding raccoons from your backyard is to make the trash cans raccoon proof. The most effective way to do this is by investing in a locking trash can.

There are also a few other ways to keep raccoons away. The best way is to keep them away is by making sure that your trash is not exposed. To do this, make sure that you secure your cans with a tight lid. You will also need to clean up any of your pet’s food that is left outside. This is a good preventative measure because raccoons are attracted to pet food.

Use Landscaping to Deter Raccoons

Most effective way to deter the raccoons from your backyard is through landscaping. This includes increasing the height of the fences and hedges around your home. Raccoons usually live in the trees, so increasing the cover and greenery in your backyard will make it less welcoming for these animals. This way you can ensure that there is no easy access for them.

If you’ve already had raccoons in your yard, then landscaping alone will not be enough. However, it is a good place to start. You will need to add a layer of protection such as repellents, leaky hose, strobe lamps and motion sensor lights to your yard.

Remember these are wild animals and you cannot be anywhere near them, as they are likely to attack if they feel threatened. Also, since they are nocturnal and nocturnal animals are usually active at night, you might need to change the lighting in your backyard accordingly.

Utilize Traps or Lethal Removal Methods

It's possible to trap raccoons if you're new to exterminating raccoons. Once you're skillful at it, you can eliminate raccoons with a minimum of hassle. If you have pets or small children at home, the most effective way of getting rid of raccoons is to seal off their entryway using sheet metal. It's best to do this in the evening once the kids and pets are inside the house. You can apply some sort of bait to help lure the raccoons into the sheet metal enclosure. Raccoons are nocturnal animals so they'll only start to show themselves when the sun goes down. The enclosure should be wired in with metal wire that can be tightened when the raccoons get uncomfortable. Once the raccoons have entered the enclosure, you can start to seal off the opening.

Live Traps

Lethal Traps, and Repellents.

Raccoons rarely attack people, but there are many dangers associated with them entering your yard. These include damage to your trash cans and bird feeders, the possible transmission of disease, and their tendency to violently protect their territory from perceived threats.

If you have raccoons living in your backyard, you'll need to take steps to get rid of them before they become a problem. Whether you decide upon live traps, lethal traps, repellents, or a combination of these, there are effective ways to get rid of raccoons in your yard. Lethal traps are the most effective way to eliminate a population, but are not effective in some situations, while live traps are not an effective way to control a population.

If you are a fan of lethal traps and want to use a lethal formula, remember to use extreme safety precautions when using a lethal live trap and when disposing of deceased animals. Never place the traps in a way that allows the animals to enter your home.

The simple fact is that if you have raccoons in your yard, they are breeding, and they are building a population. It doesn't matter how you feel, or how cute they are, the fact remains that they are dangerous, and they find their way into your trash cans. Which makes them a sanitation problem. Effective extermination can only be accomplished AFTER you have eliminated their food source, and that means eliminating the trash.

Lethal Removal

The only really effective way to remove raccoons from your backyard is by killing them. Traps won’t do the trick because trapping is not considered to be an effective method of removal. Most trappers who provide raccoon removal will euthanize the animals they capture. If you want to use lethal removal to kill raccoons, you’ll need to do the job yourself. There are no approved pesticides registered for use for the purpose of killing raccoons.

The only really effective way to remove raccoons from your backyard is by killing them. Traps won’t do the trick because trapping is not considered to be an effective method of removal. Most trappers who provide raccoon removal will euthanize the animals they capture. If you want to use lethal removal to kill raccoons, you’ll need to do the job yourself. There are no approved pesticides registered for use for the purpose of killing raccoons.

Scaring Raccoons Away

The best way to keep raccoons out of your trash is to make the area you don’t want them to have a raccoon proof area. All you have to do is to secure your trash can so they can’t get inside. One of the biggest problems is that raccoons can easily get into trash that hangs out on the ends of trash cans. They learn to jump on the lids, or even claw through them to get into the trash inside. Keep your trash on the inside of the can where it belongs and you will have a raccoon free trash can.

One of the other common ways to keep raccoons away is to scare them off with things that make noise or are bright lights. The best thing to do is to move your garbage cans under your house or up to your front door. Sometimes the noise from the house or porch light is enough to get them to leave the trash alone. We have found that it is easier to keep them out of the trash when you make sure the trash cans are still in the garage or inside the house. If possible, relocate the garbage cans so they sit inside the garage or in the house.

Another way that you can keep raccoons away from your trash cans is to use a motion-activated light. Placing a motion-activated light near the trashcan can deter raccoons.

Protecting Your Home

Raccoon control begins by protecting your home from raccoons. You should make sure that there is some sort of barrier between you and the raccoons. This means that you should never leave food out for raccoons. If you have a garbage bin in your garden, this must be kept locked, so that the raccoons can’t get inside it.

Raccoons are very good climbers so you should also check the areas that are out of your view. They might be able to reach areas that you weren’t expecting, by climbing to the roof and then dropping down into your garden. Therefore, it is a good idea to do an inspection from time to time to make sure that you can’t see any signs of a raccoon, such as damaged bins and so on.

There are many tools you can buy to keep the raccoons out of your garden and from climbing onto the roof. There are some that are known to work well, but they can be very expensive and they are not usually worth the money. One example of a tool that doesn’t work is electric fences. Raccoons aren’t afraid of electricity and they will simply walk through the fence and into your garden.

Removing Raccoons From the Attic

Raccoons in the attic are a sight that no one wants to see. Raccoons in the attic can be a big problem. Not only are they there to take over your home, but they spread and transfer diseases. This can spread to humans and animals.

In most cases, this is not a raccoon that found it's way into the attic, but one that lives there—or at least is a frequent visitor. You first need to find out whether he has been there for a long time.

You will know by conducting a stray cat search. The three ways to find furry friends who have taken up residence in your attic is with a healthy dose of patience, a good flashlight, and a lot of noise.

You want your pet to achieve two things when you are raccoon proofing the attic. 1. She must lose the fear of two things. First, she must lose the fear of being alone all day and night. 2. She must fear the attic.

Step 1: Start by feeding her an hour or two before nighttime. Then, right before bedtime, re-feed her.

Step 2: Close all the doors to the room that the pet is in, and leave the room. Do this carefully, so that she doesn’t panic.

Removal From a Crawl Space or Basement

If you are dealing with a raccoon in your crawl space, or raccoons in your basement, you will need to get the animal out. They are not just going to go away on their own and they may cause damage to the property if they leave on their own.

To get rid of these animals, you will first need to find out if they can enter on their own again or if they have a den that they will return to once they leave. This can be hard to determine if you are dealing with a mother that has a litter with her. Then you will have to use odors or lights to deter the raccoon in order to keep them from coming back.

Once they are out, then you can seal off your area so that they can not return again.

Raccoon Removal Safety Tips

Taking on a raccoon removal campaign in your back yard can be a tricky process. You can, however, make it safer by keeping three things in mind:

  • Choose the right equipment – Traps and repellents are both fine but choose the right one for the situation.
  • Use humane techniques – Using humane traps are the best for a raccoon removal campaign in your back yard.
  • Avoid these mistakes – You can prevent mistakes or injuries by remembering to trap in an open space, be safe, and reveal in humane ways.

Your actions during the raccoon's removal process will ensure safety for yourself and your family, in addition to your furry friend.

Raccoon removal experts suggest that humane traps should be baited with fish and placed in an area that is away from children and pets. Once the raccoon has been trapped you should release them in a wooded area away from your home.

You should always use wooden boards to protect your fingers from getting caught in the trap and you should approach the trap properly to prevent unnecessary injuries. By protecting your fingers with boards and being careful you can trap the raccoon with minimal risk of injury.

When to Call a Professional

If these raccoons seem threatening to you, your children, your pets or you have a lot of raccoons on your property, then I strongly suggest you call a professional wildlife removal company. The problem with raccoons is that they can carry many diseases and parasites (such as rabies and parasites). A professional wildlife removal company has the proper licenses and professional gear necessary to handle this task safely. They will also have the experience to quickly remove a raccoon from your home and/or backyard, so it does not return.

If you are in the East of the United States, then I would recommend calling Critter Control. They service most states in the East and are the best wildlife removal service in the business.

Final Thoughts

Raccoon removal is an involved task. Contacting local authorities is the best way to restrict raccoon-human contact while you plan for effective raccoon removal.

There are many methods for getting rid of raccoons and getting rid of raccoons in your backyard included in those methods are a variety of materials and tools, which are often not included in do-it-yourself methods.

Deterrent methods are most effective when executed by wildlife management professionals with the proper equipment, knowledge, and overall skill.

Beginning raccoon removal efforts without competent personnel is a dangerous idea. You risk the presence of raccoons roaming freely in your home and invite the growing numbers of disease-causing and disease-carrying pests at your doorstep, in and around your home.