In general, humans and raccoons live in harmony. Wild raccoons can usually be found in wooded areas close to a source of water. However, as urban settlement has increased, these clever scavengers have become reliant on humans for food and shelter. Problems begin to arise when these furry animals take up residence under your deck. In this article, we’ll be covering how to get rid of raccoons from under the deck!
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Are Raccoons Dangerous?
Raccoons, like any wild animal, are unpredictable. They have sharp teeth and claws, and if threatened, they will attack.
Raccoons can cause a lot of damage to your house and yard. They wreak havoc on trash cans, dig up vegetable patches and destroy gardens. Their tendency to crawl through rubbish can result in harmful bacteria clinging to their fur and claws.
They are also the most common species to carry rabies and can spread other diseases such as Tetanus, Roundworm, Salmonella, and Listeriosis. These diseases can pose a serious threat to humans and pets alike. If you or your pet have been bitten or scratched by a raccoon, seek medical attention immediately.
Why Are Raccoons Living Under My Deck?
Decks and patios are an ideal underground den for a mother raccoon and her babies. They make a safe, quiet, and dim dwelling for a mother to nest throughout the summer.
Your property will also be an attractive site due to the easy access to food. Raccoons are scavengers by nature and will source food from anywhere within reach. This may be from nearby trash cans, pet food, or your garden beds.
The good news is that these underground dens are usually only used for a few months. By the end of summer, the mother raccoon and her babies would have moved on from your deck. However, you may run the risk of Raccoons returning the next nesting season, or the mother becoming territorial if they feel threatened.
Signs of Raccoons Under Your Deck
If you suspect that you have a raccoon problem, check to see if you are experiencing any of these issues around your home:
Nesting Materials: You may spot organic materials such as newspaper, clothing, or straw strewn around your property. Mothers may gather these items from your trash, or even steal from the clothesline to make a warm nest for her raccoon babies.
Raccoon Prints And Droppings: Raccoon paw prints resemble tiny human hands with claw marks at the end. Their feces are dark tubes around 2-3 inches long. Racoon droppings can be differentiated from household pets by the presence of berries and twigs in their feces. Both prints and droppings can often be spotted around your trash cans, flower pots, and garage.
Patrolling: Being a nocturnal creature, you will most likely spot raccoons patrolling your home at night. Raccoons are a curious animal, so it isn’t uncommon for them to peep through windows, climb trees, and search through your shoes.
Noises: Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, so most of their sounds will occur at night. They can be extremely loud, especially when feeding their young. Noises may include thumping, scratching, whining, or high-pitched screeches from the babies.
Damage: If your rubbish bins have been tipped over and the trash scattered everywhere, it is highly likely that raccoons have chosen your home as a food source. Other damage may include chewed electrical wiring, impaired gutters, dug up entry points to access the deck, and gnaw marks around windows.
Discuss The Issue With A Professional
It is crucial to speak to a wildlife professional about how to get rid of raccoons. This will ensure the safety of yourself and the animal. Often, the safest and easiest way to separate raccoons from your deck is to hire a wildlife removal company. However, many animal removal companies are not licensed or monitored, so ensure that they adhere to humane practices before hiring them. Competent removal experts will usually recommend a range of strategies to ensure that the mother raccoon relocates on their own accord rather than trapping them. Trapping a mother raccoon will most likely result in the death of her babies. Therefore, wildlife removal professionals should use this method as an absolute last resort, and so should you.
How To Get Rid Of A Raccoon
Wait for the animal to leave
Your first option to getting rid of your raccoon problem is to wait until the end of summer if you are not bothered by the wildlife. Raccoons generally live in their underground dens for a short period, so they will be gone within a few months. It is common for a mother raccoon to move their young between multiple sites during the nesting season. This means that your deck may be one of many dens.
If you notice that the mother and babies have left, you can close off all access points to prevent other wildlife from using the deck in the future. Before doing so, however, use the paper test to ensure that the raccoons have indeed left. Get some newspaper and stuff inside the entrance of the den. Wait three days and nights to see if the raccoon returns. If the newspaper is still in place, and you do not hear any other noises, do a visual check to make sure that the mother raccoon is gone. After this, you can seal off your deck with durable galvanized steel mesh. Raccoons are excellent diggers, so install the mesh at least 6 inches deep. This sturdy metal should keep raccoons away in the future.
Make the Raccoons uncomfortable
A raccoon has chosen your deck because it is seen as a dark, quiet, and safe home for her babies. If you gently harass the mother enough into thinking that your deck is no longer secure, the raccoon and her young will eventually leave your property. The key elements to get rid of raccoons are to incorporate light, sound, and smell. For the harassment techniques to work, they must be placed near the den’s entrance, so that the raccoon cannot ignore them as she enters and leaves the deck.
Make sure you remain persistent when trying to get rid of raccoons from your deck. The following techniques can take several days and nights for animal removal.
Light: Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, and do not like bright lights in their home. Place a bright light near the den’s entrance for wildlife removal. Make sure you get fire safe options like outdoor spotlights or a mechanic’s light. Raccoons may evict themselves from your deck once they see their home lit up.
Sound: Making a lot of noise is another excellent technique to get rid of raccoons. The sound of human voices is threatening to raccoons and wildlife. Get a radio, place it near the den and tune it to a talk station. Make sure to turn it up loud enough to make the mother raccoon afraid and irritated. Incorporate other loud noises such as thumping, clashing pots, and yells to scare the raccoons away.
Smell: Another animal removal technique is to get some rags and soak them in Apple Cider Vinegar or ammonia. Place the rags around the deck, especially near the entrance of the den. There are a lot of raccoon repellents for sale, but the truth is most don’t work. Experts agree that scent deterrents are the least effective technique, but will get the raccoon to leave when used in combination with light and sound methods.
What NOT To Do
Live trapping: Despite common belief, trapping and relocating a raccoon is the least humane option. It is also illegal in many states in the United States of America and Canada. Relocated raccoons may become extremely stressed, and will not survive the removal process. This method often leaves behind the raccoon babies who will die without their mother. Even if the raccoon is relocated with her babies, it is common for her to be so frightened that she will abandon her young to survive in the new territory.
One-way doors: Despite many humane removal companies suggesting this method, it is not always the best option. This method works by identifying the raccoon’s entry point to the deck and mounting the one-way door to over the hole. The next time the raccoon leaves its den, they will be locked out. However, raccoons are extremely strong and smart animals. If they are determined to get back into their home, they may either try to tear the door down or simply find a new access point.
Furthermore, these doors should only be used from October to December, when tiny raccoon babies are unlikely. If you use this method any other time of year, you risk separating a raccoon mother from her babies, trapping them inside the deck. If the little raccoons are too young to follow their mother, the babies will starve. Raccoons are fiercely protective mothers, so they will also cause major damage to your property and deck as she tries to save her children.
How To Avoid Raccoons In The Future
Raccoons are ingenious animals that have demonstrated, in countless research studies, to be able to understand and solve puzzles. This means that they have an excellent memory and will remember your deck as a safe place for scavenging food, water, and bringing up children. To avoid their frequent and destructive visits, follow these simple steps:
Seal off your property: One of the easiest ways to prevent these destructive animals is to block them out with a sturdy fence. If possible, choose a fence that an animal would find difficult to climb, such as bricks or concrete. If you are using a wooden fence, make sure that it has no holes or cracks that would allow a raccoon to climb or sneak through. Ensure that the fence is built at least a foot and a half in the ground so that raccoons can not dig underneath. Dark areas such as under your house and the deck should also be fenced off with strong metal wire.
Seal off your trash: Raccoons will frequently visit your property if your trash is easy to access. Raccoons are very capable of opening lids to bins, and will even knock the trash can over in search of food. An easy and cheap way to secure your rubbish is with a trash can lid strap.
Hide Pet Food: Raccoons love pet food and will make a habit of stopping at your property in search of more easy meals. Make sure you bring any pet food inside the house before it gets dark.