Raccoons in the Attic - How to Get Rid of Them
Read the below tutorial for information about raccoons and how to get it them of an attic. It's not always a simple task - it often requires 1) physical removal of baby raccoons,
2) (humane) trapping or exclusion of adult raccoons, 3) repairs to the entry points and 4) cleanup of waste. The following tips and info should help in the raccoon removal process.
Raccoons often choose to make their home inside of people's attics. An attic provides
a safe shelter for a raccoon, and usually meets all of their living requirements: shelter
from the elements, safety from predators, and oftentimes close proximity to food - such as
garbage cans or pet food.
If you have a raccoon in the attic, take note of the time of year. If it is springtime, say Feb - June,
then there's a very good chance that the raccoon is actually a mother with a litter of young pups up
in the attic. Female raccoons love to raise their young in a warm, safe attic. You CANNOT just trap the female outside if you don't get the pups. They will suffer and starve to death, and then they will decay and create a large odor. And the desperate female, once relocated, will do anything to get back to the young, and possibly die in the process.
Most people first call me when they hear the noise the animals create. A large animal like a raccoon can
cause quite a bit of racket climbing around and digging in the attic. A litter of young will also often
squeal for their mom, making a loud noise. Some homes are less prone to sound, and the occupants learn about
their raccoon problem when they physically spot the animal, a frequent occurrence with a busy mother
Raccoons can cause quite a bit of damage when they live in an attic. Please see my
raccoon attic damage page for more photos of raccoon damage. Not only do they urinate and defecate in the attic,
but they can bring in a host of parasites (fleas, ticks, mites, and lice) and diseases (raccoon roundworm, leptospirosis, etc).
They often tear apart ductwork, rip insulation off of pipes, gnaw on wires, and trample down the insulation, lowering
its R-value effectiveness. They also tear open holes to gain access to the attic in the first place. I highly recommend attic cleanup and decontamination services if you've had a raccoon living in your attic.
Here we see the culprit - a female raccoon, on the roof near the hole in the soffit that it tore open. Raccoons have no problems climbing on to a roof, and once there, they can easily tear a hole open to gain access.
Sure enough, it crawls right inside.
Once inside the attic, I search for the adult. She usually hides down in the eaves, and I can't catch her. Sometimes I'm able to use a snare pole and grab her and remove her, and sometimes I'm able to scare her out of the attic and into a waiting trap mounted at the hole, but sometimes she gets away and I have to use other methods.
I search until I find the litter of pups. In this case, down a column at the edge of the attic. Finding the young can often be very difficult, and it takes a lot of patience and hard work up in a hot attic. If they make noise, it's easy. If mama racoon has stashed the baby raccoons down a wall and told them to be quiet, it can be very hard to find them, but it must be done.
I remove the young from the attic. It's very hot in Florida attics! I carry them as their mom would, by the scruff of the neck. This keeps them quiet. Some baby raccoons can be very agressive, and will lunge and bite. Others are docile and easy.
I set the juveniles in the back of traps, to try to catch the mom. This is the absolute best "bait" to use to trap a female raccoon. She will do anything to get to her babies, so even if she's shy of a trap, she'll still go in. It's important to set this correctly. If the trap goes off, from the mother working the outside, or the baby setting it off, then the female will go crazy trying to get in, and will likely cause some damage, maybe to herself. This type of set takes a lot of experience.
Sure enough, the mom raccoon enters the trap, lured in by its own baby. Even when faced with a larger animal like a human, the mother raccoon is always protective of its young first.
After I have the mom and all the babies out of the attic, I seal the entry points. This is a vital step in the process. If you leave the holes open, new wildlife will surely enter. No job is complete until all the holes are sealed shut.
I make sure to keep mom and all the young together. I then relocate them together to a nature preserve far outside the city. It may be hard for them to survive once evicted from their home, but mother raccoons are very resourcful. If the mother and babies cannot be kept together, I bring the young to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist.
If you have raccoons in your attic, you really should hire a professional wildlife trapper to take
care of the problem. It's not easy to get rid of raccoons in the attic. There's no magic spray or
ultrasonic sound device or any gimmick that will make them leave. They need to be trapped and removed.
It's not work for amateurs or do-it-yourselfers. Many people will just buy a trap and set it on the ground and never catch anything, or catch stray cats, opossums, and other non-target animals. Or worse, some crummy companies or so-called handy homeowners will set a trap or two on the ground, and actually catch the mom raccoon, and get rid of her - only to leave the babies up
in the attic to squeal and suffer and die and then decompose and stink. Please don't try to do this
yourself or hire a cut-rate lazy trapper who won't go into the attic and get the young. The job
has to be done right! Also, keep in mind that they sometimes live in the chimney as well. Read How to Remove a Wild Animal in the Chimney. I also have a story of a particular raccoon trapping job on my raccoon in house page.
If you need a local trapper in your area, click here for a nationwide list of 100's of professional wildlife control experts.