How to Get Rid of Raccoons

A close-up image of a raccoon.

Raccoons can breed anytime from December to June, but most of them breed around February. Gestation is 63-65 days, with most babies being born in April or May. Litter size is usually around two to five babies babies. At about 8 weeks old, the young usually leave the den and follow the mother to a new location. The young are weaned at about 12 weeks and disperse in the fall or early winter; or they may stay with the mother until the following spring. Raccoons are nocturnal animals.

When eviction techniques are used, do not expect the raccoon to leave until well after dark.

Raccoon Repellants

  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Repel® Granules - A commercial dog and cat repellant that is available at most pet stores or garden centers. The active ingredient is nonyl methyl ketone. Some other brands are Boundary® and Dog-Gone®.
  • Hot Pepper Repellant Recipe - Boil a yellow onion, chopped jalapeño pepper and one tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper for 20 minutes in two quarts of water. Then, let it cool and strain the mixture through cheesecloth. You can apply this with a pesticide sprayer or a spray bottle. This will deter just about any animal from an area where it is applied. The only draw back is that it only lasts for three to five days.

Mechanical Repellants

Scarecrow® by Contech is a motion-activated sprinkler. It works great for keeping most animals out of yards or large areas. For more information, visit Contech's site or call them at 1-800-767-8658.

Electronic Pest Control

We have recently started using this type of method. So far, we have had great success in repelling raccoons with the 0700 Deluxe Dual Speaker Pest Repellant® from Weitech Inc. They can be reached at 1-800-343-2659 if you would like to call them.

Note: Raccoons are very intelligent animals, so these exclusion tactics usually work quite well. If a raccoon tries to get food or shelter and not only can't get to it, but also feels uncomfortable, then after a couple of attempts, they will stay away and find an alternative source.

Raccoons on the Premises

  • Be sure to eliminate all outside food sources, such as pet food, birdseed, etc. in the evening. If your pets must be fed outside, then remove all food at night.
  • Use metal or heavy plastic trash containers. Keep the lids securely fastened to prevent odors from escaping. If needed, secure lids with bungee cords, ropes, etc. that have been soaked in Tabasco sauce ® or the commercial repellant, Ropel ®, available at garden, hardware, pet or feed stores. If they still get in, you can pour about one cup of ammonia in the trash can every week, after the trash has been picked up. Rubbermaid ® makes a trash can with a screw on the lid. You should always try to store trash in a garage or a shed.
  • Repel ® Granules, which is a dog and cat repellant, can be sprinkled around any area where the raccoons gather, be it roof, attic, trash area etc.
  • Keep BBQ grills clean or stored in a secure place.
  • When you see a raccoon in the yard, turn on the lights, run outside yelling and swinging a broom and scaring them off. You can also spray them with a hose. CAUTION: Do not corner a raccoon, thereby forcing them to defend themselves.
  • Use an electric fence around the perimeter of the premises. Run the wire around the tops of all fences. If the raccoons can go under the fence, you will need to run a wire along the bottoms of the fence as well. The electric fence should be high voltage, low amperage, so that no harm can be done to any animal or person. We recommend the Fido Shock Electric Fence ®. It comes in a kit with everything you need and it is very versatile and easy to set up. It is available at many pet and hardware stores.
  • Use a Scarecrow.
  • Use the Hot Pepper Recipe.
  • Light the area with flood lights or motion detector lights. Motion detector lights usually work the best.

Raccoons in Chimneys (Fire Brick)

  • It is best to leave the raccoons alone until mom takes the babies out. Raccoons do not build a nest and they do not bring food back to the den. When the babies are about 8-10 weeks of age, the mother will start weaning them. She will take them out of the chimney and not return.
  • If you can't wait, place a bowl of ammonia in the fireplace, and if needed, leave the flu open 1/8 in. Most flues are not airtight. If you don't smell ammonia in the room where the fireplace is, then the flu is not airtight. This in itself usually works.
  • Place a radio in the fireplace. Tune it to a talk program. Do this during the day, and use it in combination with the ammonia; or, you might want to use an ultra sonic device. Give the raccoons two to three nights to move out.
  • Scare them out (only if the ammonia & the radio does not work) by using a broom or pole. Try yelling. As a precaution you might want to use gloves.
  • After the raccoon is gone, secure the chimney with a chimney cap so this does not happen again.

Note: Under no circumstance should a fire be used to evict any animal. Starting a fire will only burn and/or kill the animal.

Raccoons in Chimneys (Metal Insert)

  • In metal chimney pipes, the raccoon may not be able to climb out on its own.
  • From the roof, drop down a thick rope or cloth, such as old blankets or sheets, so the raccoon can climb out. It is a good idea to tie a knot in the rope or cloth about 1 ft. apart, this will provide a more secure climbing surface. You may have to tie two or more together to reach the bottom of the chimney. Tie something to provide weight to the bottom of the rope or cloth, such as a hammer, pair of pliers, etc. Be sure to lower slowly. This will help you to feel the bottom, especially if the pipe is curved. Also, it will provide stability when the raccoon climbs up and out.
  • Make sure it reaches the bottom. Then secure the rope or cloth at the top. Raccoons are heavy, so secure it well.
  • Leave the area completely alone. The raccoon climb out in 1-24 hours.
  • After the raccoon is gone, secure the chimney with a chimney cap, so this does not happen again.

Raccoons in the Attic

  • It is best to leave them alone until mom moves the babies out.
  • Scare them out. Use caution! Just making your presence known will usually do it. Go into the attic a few times a day with a flashlight.
  • Shine the light on them and talk to them. But if touched or threatened, by being cornered or feeling boxed in, they will defend themselves and they are quite adept at doing so.
  • If there are babies, give the mother one or two nights to relocate the family.
  • Roll some rags into a tight ball and tie with twine to keep them tight. Soak the rag balls in ammonia. Toss them into the area of the attic where the raccoon is located.
  • If you can, sprinkle Cayenne pepper or Repel® granules, a commercial dog and cat repellant, around the entry hole, both inside and out, if this is possible.
  • During the day, place a radio in the attic tuned to an all talk station.
  • Use floodlights to keep the area where they are living well lit.
  • Once the raccoon has moved out, secure their entry point. Use hardware cloth or welded wire.
  • They usually won't come back. If you want to use a repellant, then you can either Sprinkle Repel® granules or Cayenne pepper around the entrance area, if that is possible; or use a repellant, such as Ropel ®, sprayed around the entrance area.

Raccoons on the Roof

  • Sometimes spraying water from a hose will scare them off.
  • If it is a constant problem, then sprinkling Repel ® on the roof works great!

Raccoons in the Garden or Fish Pond

  • Use a Scarecrow
  • Use an electric fence, such as Fido Shock®, which is high voltage, low amperage, and it will not hurt the animal or you.
  • Light the area with floodlights or motion detector lights.
  • If you have a small pond, build a wooden frame to cover the pond. Cover the frame with 1" x 2" welded wire. Secure it to the ground.
  • This frame can be left on permanently or removed daily. Since the raccoons are nocturnal, just be sure the pond is covered at night.

Raccoons Coming Through Pet Doors

  • Mount floodlights or motion detector lights above the pet door.
  • Lock and secure the pet door at night.
  • Place a piece of plywood or cardboard outside of the pet door; sprinkle a liberal amount of Cayenne pepper or Repel® granules. Be sure to lock the pet door that night and remember to do so for several nights. During the day, you can remove the repellant so that your pets can use the door. Usually, after a couple of visits, the raccoon will stay away from the pet door. The easiest method is to simply lock your pet door every night at sunset. Usually, after just a few nights, the raccoons will stop coming to your pet door. According to a study done in Colorado, the number one reason raccoons die is from starvation. Once the raccoon realizes he can't access your pet door for food, he will not want to waste time or energy coming to your house.

Note: If you live in raccoon habitat, a pet door for dogs or cats is not a good idea. If the raccoons discover it, they will use it to come into your home in search of food. Not only will wildlife use them, but also small humans can enter them and what they take will be more valuable than what the wildlife wants.

Raccoons in the Trash

  • The easiest method is to get a good trash can with a secure lid. If they still get in, you can pour about one cup of ammonia in the trash can every week after the trash has been picked up. You should try to store trash in a garage or shed. Rubbermaid® makes a trash can with a screw on the lid.
  • Put trash out the day of pick-up instead of the night before.
  • Also, try sprinkling a repellant around the trash can area. Such as Repel® granules, Cayenne pepper, or Hot Pepper spray.
Keeping raccoons at bay isn't too hard, it just takes a little work and knowhow. But, now you are prepared should you see these masked bandits raiding your trash.

Reprinted with permission by Urban Wildlife Rescue.