How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Your Backyard

Aside from the adorable fluffiness of raccoons, they’re one of nature’s most sneaky and inquisitive bandits. If knocked-over garbage cans and trash scattered all over the yard sounds all too familiar, then you may have a raccoon problem. This is why we’ve made it our mission to provide you with all you need to know about how to get rid of raccoons in your backyard.

Let’s get started!

Signs and Behavior of Raccoons

There are a few signs that you can look out for if you suspect raccoons are visiting your property. The first and most obvious sign is raccoon tracks, which are quite easy to identify compared to other small mammals or rodents. With the long, skinny toes in the print, they’re not too hard to point out.

Other telltale signs include scattered trash, trash cans that have been knocked over, missing fish if you have a fish pond, broken bird feeders, ransacked pet food bowls, and if you own poultry, missing or broken eggs, and battered chickens.

It goes without saying that raccoons aren’t shy animals and have no issues with destroying your property and stealing your home-reared goods. Most everyone owns a pet or has outdoor garbage cans – but not everyone has a problem with raccoons.

So why are raccoons targeting your property?

Why Raccoons Are Visiting Your Home

Because of their opportunistic nature, there are a variety of reasons why raccoons may be visiting your home. Here are the most likely possibilities:

  • Your garbage cans are easily accessible.
  • You leave pet food outside unattended.
  • Your farm animals are readily available to scavenging wildlife.
  • You have fish ponds.
  • Your land is habitable to raccoons for nesting and rearing young.
  • Your property has a body of water that acts as a drinking source.

Luckily, each of these issues can be resolved with a few adjustments. We’ll go over how to resolve each in the following sections.

What You Can Do

Raccoons are notorious scavengers and incredibly intelligent. These little thieves will sneak into your trash cans, chicken coops, and even your home if given the opportunity, which is why it’s so important to take defensive measures to protect your property.

Remove Raccoon Attractants

The first thing you should do is remove all raccoon attractants from your yard. You can do this by:

  • Securing your trash cans with a lid and bungee cords or by putting your garbage inside a garage or shed.
  • Placing an electric fence around your property, fish ponds, and chicken runs or coops.
  • If your raccoon problem is indoors, you should seal off any dog doors and make sure there are no outside entrances to your attic.
  • Bring bird feeders in at night or place them on shepherds hooks to make them harder for raccoons to get to.
  • Remove any fallen fruits or seeds.

Keep Your Backyard Clean

Aside from taking your garbage cans indoors (to the garage or shed), you should also be sure that your yard is clear of any edible debris or human trash. Never leave food unattended outside, whether it be human or pet food, and always clean up any leftovers when you’re done sitting outdoors.

If you have a garden and compost tumbler, you’ll also want to be sure that your compost is secure and unable to be broken into. You could also consider bringing your compost indoors to solve the problem altogether. In this article, we cover the best indoor composts bins on the market today. You can refer to that article if indoor compost seems like a decent solution to your raccoon issue.

Use Landscaping to Deter Raccoons

Raccoons are forest animals and will nest and build their families on your property if it’s wooded or hidden enough. To avoid them getting access to your home, sheds, barns, or other buildings on your property, be sure to trim back your trees to where they’re at least 5 feet away from the roofs. Raccoons are excellent climbers and will use trees to their advantage if left to their own devices.

Also, if you have a trellis, arbor, or gazebo near your house or other outdoor structures, it may be best to consider removing or relocating the garden features to a different part of your property.

You can also trim back bushes or remove any large clumps of vegetation from your property to eliminate any potential hiding places.

Utilize Traps or Lethal Removal Methods

While not the most pleasurable way to get rid of raccoons, traps – whether they be live or lethal – are great tools to utilize when you’re at your whits end.

Of course, there are pros and cons to both deadly and live raccoon traps. Let’s take a closer look at each:

Live Traps

 

Havahart 1045 Live Animal Two-Door Raccoon, Stray Cat, Opossum, and Groundhog Cage Trap
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Last update on 2019-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros:

  • You don’t have to kill the raccoon.
  • The animal(s) can safely be relocated.
  • They’re easy to set up and use.

Cons:

  • It will only be a quick fix. If other measures aren’t taken, your raccoon problem will persist.
  • Live traps may harm curious pets.

Lethal Removal

There are a few ways you can go about getting rid of raccoons lethally: a gun, a wire trap, or poison.

Shooting the raccoon (or raccoons) is a quick and humane method of extraction, with death being immediate. This is often the most used method by hunters and homeowners, alike, for the aforementioned reason. Of course, if you live in a neighborhood or within city limits, it’s likely illegal to shoot a raccoon. Be sure to check your local laws before going this route.

Pros:

  • Gets rid of raccoons quickly and painlessly.

Cons:

  • May not be legal in-city.
  • A gruesome solution.

Wire traps are not for the yellow-bellied, as these snares are intended to catch and kill the raccoon via strangulation. The positive aspect of this lethal removal method is that it’s not as gruesome as shooting the pests, and it’s still a relatively quick death compared to other traps that may cause an animal to suffer for days before found by the homeowner or hunter (about 8 minutes). Still, there’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding these traps, with some people who believe that they are “archaic and torturous devices” – but, you may just have to do what you can if the problem is severe enough. Raccoons can wreak havoc.

Pros:

  • Not as gruesome as shooting the raccoons.
  • Kills relatively quickly, compared to other traps.
  • Traps are reusable.
  • Affordable.

Cons:

  • A controversial method.
  • Strangulation isn’t the nicest way to die.

 

Redneck Convent Versatile Snare Wire Trapping Supplies 12-Pack – Coyote Trap, Fox Trap – Small Game Traps, Trapping Kit Snare Trap 12pk
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  • TRAP LEGALLY: Included nut is an optional “floating” deer stop that will keep the snare from shutting fully, allowing a deer to be freed; Check your state laws and hunting regulations for deer stop requirements and snare trapping legality
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  • LOADED FOR SPEED: Loading makes a huge difference in snaring percentages as it puts tension in the loop making the loop rounder and causing it to close quickly when an animal goes through it
  • PACKAGE CONTENTS: Package includes (12) reusable animal snare traps to best suit your trapping needs

Last update on 2019-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


And finally, poison is another common method used by homeowners to get rid of raccoons. An easy way to use poison is by mixing a rodenticide in with pet food outdoors (where it’s usually kept). Be sure your dogs and cats are inside at night when the raccoons are most active. In theory, the raccoons will visit the pet food and ingest the poison. However, poisons can be extremely inhumane – even more so than snares – causing internal bleeding, ruptures, and sores, along with foaming at the mouth, and other painful repercussions.

Pros:

  • Affordable and easy method.

Cons:

  • It may be extremely painful for the raccoon(s) and could take days to kill the animal.

 

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Last update on 2019-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Overall, if you’re more on the squeamish side, or just don’t like to kill pests, then a live trap may be the way to go. It comes down to preference, since shooting raccoons, snaring them, poisoning them, or live-trapping them are all effective means of removal. If you do decide to go down the live trap route, be sure to check your local laws about relocation or call a professional to assist you in removal.

Scaring Raccoons Away

If trapping or killing isn’t your cup of tea, you can try scaring your raccoon problem away. Of course, like many non-lethal methods, scaring raccoons without any additional preventative measures is only an effective method until these sly little critters figure out there’s no harm to be done to them.

In conjunction with preventative land and home-scaping measures, however, these scare tactics may work quite well and permanently resolve your raccoon issue – but you’ll still need effective devices.

Motion-detecting water sprinklers are a good bet because they sprit the raccoons with a harmless, yet annoying and startling, stream of cold water. A great option on Amazon is the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler. It’s an affordable option with a pretty wide range, detection modes for day and night, and has hundreds of positive reviews to back up its performance.

 

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Last update on 2019-12-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


You can also utilize motion lights. These devices will give the appearance of human activity, or the activity of a larger predator, which will ward off any nearby raccoons. The PREDATORGUARD Solar Powered Predator Deterrent Light is an excellent option because it’s affordable, solar-powered, and uses rapid, chaotic light movement to keep the raccoons guessing.

The only downside is that these types of devices may not work with raccoons that have become well adjusted to human presence. These motion lights work best on wild, skittish animals. If you don’t live in city limits or in the suburbs, these lights could be a decent bet.

 

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Protecting Your Home

Getting rid of raccoons that wreak havoc on your outdoor property is one thing, but it’s a whole other beast to tame when they decide to literally make your home, theirs.

Removing Raccoons From the Attic

Raccoons that have made their way in your attic bring about an incredibly dicey situation. Firstly, if they’ve given birth (which they most almost always do), that means there are babies – and if you just catch Mama, the babies will scatter and die in your walls. This scenario would leave you with a disgusting stench and a huge hack job in your home in an attempt to locate the dead animals.

What you’ll need to do is place a trap outside of the home, near the entrance to the attic. This will catch the adults, which will give you free rein to locate the babies that are most likely still in your home. Remove each of the babies carefully by hand (wearing thick, protective gloves), and place them in a box; preferably with a blanket or towel inside.

After you’ve removed any raccoons, seal the entrances and any sized holes that you see lead to the outside of the home or the inside of walls.

Removal From a Crawl Space or Basement

In crawl spaces and basements, it’s pretty uncommon to find babies – though not impossible. Mother raccoons tend to rear their young in higher places (like your attic). So it’s still wise to check and double-check for any signs of raccoon young after you’ve removed the adult(s) with normal live trapping methods (as we’ve mentioned in the previous section).

Raccoon Removal Safety Tips

Raccoons are wild animals that scare easily and will do anything in their power to protect themselves from a threat – namely, you. So before you go about live trapping a raccoon outdoors or indoors, read over these safety tips carefully:

  • Never put your fingers in the cage. You will get bit or scratched!
  • Wear long sleeves and thick gardening gloves to avoid skin contact when removing baby raccoons from an indoor or outdoor location – this also goes for when you’re moving a trapped adult.
  • Don’t hold a trapped raccoon close to your body. Always carry the trap holding the raccoon away from you, at an arm’s length. This will ensure that the raccoon does not have a chance to attack you.
  • Do not bait the traps with meat. The meat will attract cats and domesticated pets that you don’t want to trap. Instead, use a bait tailored to raccoons, squirrels, and other animals.
  • In the case of an emergency, have someone drive you to the hospital immediately. If you’re bitten or otherwise attacked by the raccoon, don’t hesitate. You never know what diseases wild animals might be carrying.
  • If you’re going to shoot the raccoon you’ve trapped, do it at a safe distance. You want to avoid getting close to a caged raccoon to prevent an attack. And, of course, practice your gun safety; be doubly sure no person or pet is in firing range. If there are people or pets outside, don’t shoot until they’ve gone indoors or have gone behind you.
  • If you have shot the raccoon, wear safety gear and clothing while handling the carcass. And dispose of it promptly. If you have suspicions of disease, you should wear a mask, gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and close-toed shoes to avoid contact with any bodily fluids. Remember that the transfer of disease isn’t only limited to scratches and bites.

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve followed the above advice and your raccoon problem persists, it may be in your best interest to contact professional pest removers. Also, if you’ve located an injured raccoon or rabid one, do not approach it and call animal control.

Though it may cost a pretty penny, professionals know what they’re doing and promptly rid you of your raccoon problem with little fuss. They’ll also know where on your property to look for any signs of nesting and can recognize infestation easily.

Final Thoughts

Raccoons are sneaky creatures who don’t mind scavenging through your garbage cans and nesting in your attic. When it comes to getting rid of raccoons, the task can be quite a large one, depending on the size of the infestation and how much work you’ll need to do to make your home and yard unappealing to nature’s bandits.

There are a few ways you can get rid of raccoons: by fixing up your landscaping, sealing any entrances to your home, keeping your yard and garbage tidy and tucked away, and resorting to live or lethal removal methods. Lethal removal is by far the most permanent solution, however, when you incorporate many or all of the aforementioned ways to deter live raccoons, you may very well ward off raccoons for good without having to resort to killing them.

We hope we were able to help you make a plan for raccoon removal and prevention! Stay safe and persistent and we’re sure you’ll get the job done.