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Removal of raccoons from a home is not as simple as just setting a cage trap or two outside. In fact, that can be one of the worst things you can do. If there are raccoons living somewhere in a house, such as the attic, ceiling, walls, or under the home, there is most likely a litter of baby raccoons inside, and they must be dealt with before you remove any adults. Also, it's very important to identify and seal the entry holes into the house as part of the job.
After you read the below information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does raccoon removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of raccoons - my main raccoon removal info guide.
Example raccoon trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Raccoon blog - learn from great examples of raccoon jobs I've done.
How to get a raccoon out of a tree
Why do raccoons tear up sod? How to stop it
What are raccoons scared of?
How to scare a raccoon away
How To Get Rid Of Raccoons Without Killing Them
Raccoons in New York City
What kind of noises and sounds do raccoons make when they live in your house?
How to make a raccoon trap
How to hunt raccoons
Do female raccoons make good mothers?
How to get free raccoon removal
Do raccoons wash their food?
The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Raccoons
Will the city or county animal services help me with a raccoon issue?
If I Have Raccoons in the Attic, Will There Be Babies?
Raccoons & My Chicken Coop: How to Keep Them Out
Raccoon Damage in the Attic: A Bigger Problem Than You Thought
Below is an email that I got from a person in northern New Jersey, which I then forwarded to a wildlife trapper in that area. He then wrote back about what happened with this situation involving a raccoon in the house.
ORIGINAL EMAIL: I am convinced based on your excellent web site that I have a Mother and babies in the attic/wall of my house. I am sure we can get the mother, not sure we can get the babies. I have gotten quotes, and I think they will just do the lazy way capture and remove the mom leaving me with the problem. I need someone in northern NJ. I am not sure where you are located. Do you have any recommendations. Thank you for the website.
THE STORY OF THE JOB, BY THE JERSEY RACCOON TRAPPER:
Thank you David, Funny story if you have a moment to read this.
The customer that wrote you did in fact call me Last Wed and yes he had spoken to several companies that would trap or exclude the mother raccoon but could care less about the babies and he did not want them left behind to smell out his house. I explained our services and he was happy and I made an appointment to inspect his house the following morning. On the phone he was a bit, how do I say, "Jersey City" type, lots of cursing, hated the raccoon and its young, wanted to make sure I killed them after I removed them etc etc. He also thought my inspection fee of $150 was excessive ($150 JUST TO LOOK ?) but finally agreed if I would arrive extra early so he could get to work on time. (note, he is as far away as I travel in my service area, about an hours ride one way) (just got our taxes done and we owe 10 grand this year, the income this past year was not the best we have done since we lost all our bat work, etc, but we did not have a lot of write offs either (No big medical bills LOL !!) so oh well, surprise!!, so, cant turn down work from jerk customers or our of area calls right now.
I was there at 7 am on Thursday. I was wrong about him being the Jersey city type. The house is a gated mega mansion, 6 car garage (Escalade, Beemer and two Harleys which look like they have never once been ridden). The house is 3 stories high with an extra story of the roof (where the entry is of course) and in about 8 sections like a maze.
He was not there, his wife was (nice huh?), and a decent friendly lady. She had to lock up the guard dogs so I could work (huge foreign breed, cant even spell what they are).
In "the third" of the 5 attics I found an arsenal of rifles, well over 100, and said well, wow ! She explained that her husbands father was a big time hunter who traveled the world hunting and when he died he had left the guns to him. He never used them, but did use one that he purchased himself last year on business trip overseas, a high power pellet gun with a scope that he shoots the squirrels with on the estate.
I found nothing in the attics, no evidence of raccoons. She took me to a room on the top floor where they said they heard the noises the most (the room is a massage room, tables and everything all set up, nice to be rich). I had a raccoon caller with me and played the chirping of raccoon babies to see if I got a response, she said that was the exact sound they had been hearing all week behind one of the walls in that room. The room was totally hard wood paneled. I found one of the panels was a door, and it led to closet. She had no idea that closet existed there at all. I opened the door and found huge paw prints in the dust on the floor, wow. But looking closer, those were not raccoon prints, they were dog prints. She said oh, her husband must have put one of the dogs in there to try and scare out the raccoon (which I believe was nesting above the ceiling of the closet, of course not attic space there). She said he has been on a quest to get rid of the raccoon and bringing the dogs out every night to try and kill it.
I used the caller several times, nothing, no sounds. She said it was weird, they heard her moving around and the babies crying every night except for the last night.
I did the outside inspection, I found the entry in a spot though the roof next to the chimney at the very peak of the house. My 28' just made it to gutter line and I had to install two sets of roof brackets and boards to make stairs on the steep roof just to get close enough to the entry hole. While there I noticed something odd, never seen before. There was what looked like small drilled out holes, a hundred or more of them all around the entry hole, in the roof shingles and wood trim.
Ahhh, I figured it out. I went back down and asked the woman, by any chance, has your husband been using his high power pellet rifle on the raccoon. She admitted he had been, he was sitting out there every night for the last week trying to shoot it. The dogs were used to keep it from coming off the roof while he shot at it.
I told her, well, the reason your not hearing anything now is one of two reasons, either he shot it so many times it finally died up there, or it said enough of this and moved her and the pups out of there. I told her best I could do was install some light screen over the hole to see if the raccoon pushes it out so I know if its still coming and going or not (soft block).
As I am getting on this roof now for the second time she walks out and shouts up that one of her kids forgot his lunch and she had to bring it to the school and would be back in five minutes and away she goes.
I got the screen installed and packed up my gear and ladders and then waited a half hour for her, she did not return. I left a note on the door to call me and left, unpaid, no signed paperwork etc. That was Thursday.
This afternoon, Saturday the husband calls and tells me that the screen is not disturbed and they think they have a smell in that room now. I explained the only thing to do now was to open the ceiling in that room and take a look. He says....IS THERE EXTRA CHARGE FOR THAT, JUST TO LOOK ?
OH my o my o my did he get an earful, LOL ! and yes there is a charge for that, service call plus time to open the ceiling. What I did not quote was what it would cost to remove that carcass if I do find it. I think Ill surprise him with that when it happens. Also, I have our first NJ NWCOA chapter meeting tomorrow, so he has to wait until Monday for me. I guarantee I wont hear back from him, he will probably have one of those "other companies" he called last week for that service tomorrow.
Looking forward to seeing what will happen with my initial inspection bill. Should be easy to collect I'm sure, considering none the guns in his attic are registered and I know about them.
Always in all ways, the best to you and your family.
PS, have to tell you this man to man. Thank you again and again for our listings on your sites, seriously, with all the pest control companies now in our business competing for work, and so many folks out of work and the economy, and our bats totally wiped out which is a big hit, if it were not for you and the calls we get from your site for raccoons and squirrels I think I would be working as a security guard at night again and my wife working on the school bus in the mornings again, and living in a tenement. I am forever in your debt my friend. Someday Ill figure out a way to repay you for your generosity. I'm trying to make a go of doing training events and selling more lures. If that goes big perhaps that will be the ticket to our future !
Sorry that this email didn't really contain any how-to information for how to deal with a problem with a raccoon in house. For excellent how-to information, please visit my how to get rid of raccoons page or my get rid of raccoons in the attic page, or my raccoon trapping page.
Raccoons in captivity have shown intelligence far beyond what we expected from the masked scavenger. Capable of tearing open window and door screens, knocking over garbage cans and ripping open the bags inside to get to leftovers, and even opening/lifting/turning latches, it is now quite common to find raccoons in or around human homes. At times, you might even find that the raccoon walks right into your kitchen and helps itself to the food you've left on the side.
How frequently do you leave your back door open in the spring or summer?
How many times have you left food on the countertop?
How often do you blame the dog/husband/kids for stealing some of that food … ?
There are three very important things to remember if you find yourself face-to-face with a wild raccoon:
1. Wild raccoons are one of the biggest carriers of rabies in the United States; a disease that can kill domestic animals, wild animals, and people alike.
2. Wild raccoons also come with a number of other disease threats, are they are frequently found in feces, urine, and other biological matter, as well as chewed items and nest material.
3. Wild raccoons can bite, scratch and lash-out, and they are incredibly intelligent and strong animals. Conflict with an adult raccoon can result in very nasty wounds that require urgent medical attention.
What Should You Do About a Raccoon in the Kitchen?
Would you be happy to hire in the professionals? Wildlife rehabilitators are able to offer same day appointments, and the service is usually a lot cheaper than you'd think. There are legalities surrounding many aspects of pest control, especially with raccoons, and permits are sometimes required for trapping, killing, transporting, releasing, and more.
Wildlife rehabilitators will remove the animal(s) in question, but they'll usually offer a more comprehensive service than that. In many cases, pest control officers can tell you how the animal got in, how you can stop the animal from coming back again in the future, and may even do the complete clean-up and seal/repair operation for you.
If this isn't an option for you, here are a few other approaches you could try:
> Shut all doors that lead to other areas of your home, but make sure that the windows are open in the room that the raccoon has been contained in. Do not let the animal run rampant around your home, especially if there are kids, pets, or other [unaware] people inside. Leave it alone for a while and hope it manages to get out.
> Create a pathway from the room that the raccoon is in, to the front or back door/open window. Make sure everyone else and other animals are out of the way, and that the animal can't get anywhere BUT the pathway you have mapped out for it. Open the door to the room that it has been contained in, and keep your fingers crossed that the raccoon just follows the metaphorical yellow brick road.
> Shoo the animal using a broom or mop; something long and doesn't require you to get too close to the raccoon. (This is likely to make the raccoon angry. What's the saying? “Don't poke a bear in a cage?”)
> Shut all doors and windows and keep the animal contained until you have help — a trapper, a friend with a trap, some more information after a quick Google search or call to wildlife control officers.
> Place a trap in the room, add some bait, shut the door, and wait. If the raccoon is in the kitchen, however, it will be unlikely to put itself in danger by getting food from the trap when there is plenty of other food around.
> Make a lot of noise in the hope that you scare the animal into leaving. Again, open windows and doors are essential for this, and you will need to ensure the raccoon can't get into other rooms around your home during the blind panic.
There are a number of things you could use in your garden or home, alongside property modifications that you can make, to ensure that your home is safe and free from pest wildlife. If you live in an area that is known for high raccoon numbers, you should be on guard — it will only be a matter of time before one of them checks out what you and your home has to offer. In fact, knowing what a raccoon will be looking for will go a long way to helping you to keep them out.
There are 7 ways to keep raccoons out of your home that actually work, and they are as follows:
1 - Hide Yo' Food!
Raccoons are looking for food. That's what most wild animals are on the hunt for. If you take away that food, you are taking away one of the biggest attractants for raccoons. Do you have pets? Where do you feed them? If there are bowls of food left outside for your pets, you are feeding raccoons and other pest animals, especially if you leave the bowls and food there overnight. Even a few scraps left on the sides of the bowl are enough to lure a passing wild critter in.
Bird feeders should be protected to ensure that raccoons can't get to them. If the birds keep dropping seeds and nuts to the floor, it might be a wise idea to move the bird feeder inside for a short time. The birds can't get to it, admittedly, but the raccoon can't get to it either. There are modifications that you can make to your bird feeder, alongside buying raccoon and wild animal-proof feeders, that will prevent raccoons and other animals getting to it. Squirrels are another culprit.
Chicken feed shouldn't be left lying around. In fact, no food should. If you have big bags of pet or farm animal food outside and easily accessible, it will be accessed. Hide your food and the raccoon won't have anything to encourage it to take a closer look.
2 - Prevent Food Access
We're going to stick with the subject of food; it can be found in the weirdest and most wonderful of places when you're talking about a raccoon.
Grassy areas are home to lots of insects, especially after a good rain.
Vegetable patches provide food for you, so those plants are also going to provide food to raccoons.
Chicken coops are home to both chickens and eggs; it will be the latter that a raccoon wants to eat.
Garbage bags are easily ripped open, leftovers and thrown-out food inside then devoured. Garbage cans aren't safe either if they can be tipped over or chewed through, such as with plastic cans. Metal cans are a much better option, because they cant be chewed through. When you add a lid that is securely held in place, with rope or bungee cords, for example, the raccoon has no way to get inside and will soon give up.
Hiding all food sources will help, but there are still other food sources found right in your back yard. You can add protection to chicken coops, and perhaps even use insecticides, natural or otherwise, on your grassy areas. Vegetable patches can be easily protected, with both overground and underground barriers, such as cage-style structures that are placed over the food items, just out of reach from grabbing paws.
3 - The Big Garden Cleanup
Raccoons like cluttered spaces — lots of trees, rocks, and shrubs. These things offer the animal protection, and this is the case for almost all wild animals. These animals will always choose to hide in cluttered, messy back yards, so the cleaner your back yard is, the more it will be protected.
Large and open spaces are a problem for pest animals — they have nothing in the way of protection and shelter. If they were to come across a passing predator, such as a fox, a large, clean, and empty garden would offer nothing for the animal to hide in or under. If the trees are trimmed back, the branches don't offer a way for the animal to hide.
An animal won't go into a back yard that seems to be dangerous, especially large and open-spaced ones. The cleaner your garden is, the less chance you have of a passing raccoon coming closer.
4 - Pool & Pond Cover Up
Raccoons love water — they play in it, bathe it, drink it, and even find food in it. If you have a pond with fish or other lifeforms in it, such as newts or frogs, a raccoon will try to fish for them to eat them. You can create covers for the pond in the same way that you can create cage-like barriers for vegetable patches and other precious areas.
Pools should also be covered up, but this isn't for the same food-related reason, but instead because raccoons seems to like using swimming pools as latrines — bathrooms. It is very common for homeowners with uncovered pools to find raccoon poop floating around in it, but they don't usually blame wildlife or pest animals initially. It is the local cat population that will be blamed first, in almost all cases; raccoon poop looks similar to cat poop.
5 - Fence It In
If you have land that you can add a fence to, add the fence! Having an actual, physical barrier between your land and the “outside world” will help you to protect your home better. The harder it is for these animals to find what they are looking for in your garden, the less chance that they will be taken in by what your home could offer up too.
Fences overground are good, and they only need to be about three or four feet high, providing there are no tree branches or other things close by to help give the animal a “bunk up”. Fences that also offer an underground barrier are better; something made from hardware cloth can be bent into shape and affixed to the bottom of the fence, underground, to prevent digging and burrowing animals from making their way inside. For hard hit gardens and homes, you may also wish to consider electric fencing.
6 - Repellents [Raccoon Eviction Fluid]
Although there are a number of raccoon repellents on the market, the only one that we can personally recommend to you goes by the name of “wildlife eviction fluid” or “raccoon eviction fluid”. Although this product has been primarily designed for female raccoons, it can also have some effect on other wild animals too, including skunks and opossums.
Raccoon eviction fluid is made up of fluids from male raccoons, such as gland secretions and urine. You will also find some on the market that contain the secretions of other male predators too — foxes, coyotes, wolves, etc.
The theory is quite simple — the female raccoon with a nest of kits (which is usually what can be found in your home) will smell a male raccoon from the fluid you have applied. That mother then thinks that her young are under attack and are in danger, and will move them along to another nest and den site that is much safer for them. She won't leave her babies all the time she can smell a predator around, so she knows that she will only have a brief period of time to get her kits to safety.
This is a costly repellent to use long term, but can help you to quickly, safely, humanely, and effectively move on a new family of raccoons that seem to be sniffing out your home. There is a good chance that they have already managed to get inside.
7 - Wildlife Rehabilitators
If you think that raccoons have been circling your home and you would rather not run the risk of letting them get too close, you could always call in the services of an expert. Wildlife rehabilitators are not only great for removing animals that have already invaded your property, but can also help you to reinforce your home, making sure that these animals don't ever become a problem.
Rehabilitators can help hunt out holes that the raccoon can use to get inside your home, and then suggest the right materials that will lock them out for good. Raccoons are strong and destructive, so even siding on your home isn't safe, and don't think that a screen over an open window will stop them from getting in either. In fact, raccoons in captivity have shown to be very quick at picking up how to use window and door latches and handles, meaning that they even have the potential to get inside your home through a currently closed door.
By keeping raccoons out of your yard, you are keeping them away from your home. As well as making sure that your home doesn't have any patches of damage or holes that could be used as potential entrances, you should also make sure that your land isn't one massive attractant. Food and other high-demand things in your back yard will keep them coming back, no matter how much you try to protect your humble abode.
If you keep seeing raccoons hanging out in your yard, it's time to ask yourself why? There is evidently something that keeps them coming back for more, so by taking those attractants away, you can prevent them from coming back.
It's time to take a walk around your home …
In almost ALL cases, food is what keeps raccoons coming back to your home. Raccoons will share the details of good food sources, fresh water supplies, and cosy little den sites with other raccoons. Mothers will share their homes with their kits, and it is very common for raccoons to leave a den, circle around other dens for a while, and then come right back to the original one. In some cases, raccoons will have specific den sites that they will use for specific reasons, such as one that would be better suited to rearing kits, or one that is warmer for the cold, harsh winters.
What food do you see in your back yard? How about the front yard? Sheds? Outbuildings? It's time to take a look at all of these spots, because it is these spots that are probably flashing like neon lights to any passing wildlife.
Do you have a vegetable patch?
Homeowners love growing stuff in their back yard but, sadly, this means pest animal invaders from time to time. Raccoons can devour entire vegetable patches in just one night, and they're not the only wild critter known for this activity. By protecting your vegetable patch as best you can, you are avoiding raccoon conflicts, as well as a string of others.
An underground barrier is important as well as an overground barrier, as raccoons, much like other pests, can dig and burrow. Rocks and harsh gravel can be inserted into underground trenches, as such, that go all the way around the patch you're trying to protect. This will then stop any wildlife being able to dig under and into your previous garden crops.
An overground barrier could be something as simple as wire or hardware cloth stretched over a wooden frame. As long as the framework and wire keeps the raccoon just over an arm's length away, they won't be able to reach through any holes and grab the goodies inside. You could consider a number of fencing options for vegetable patches, but fencing around the entire garden is a really smart idea. Keep all trees and tree branches trimmed back, and the raccoon won't have anything to climb up and over either. It's not a foolproof way of keeping these critters out, but it does show some promise. There are a lot of gardens in your street — if yours is too difficult to get into, or doesn't offer the raccoon anything that it wants, it will just move along.
Fruit trees fall into the same bracket as vegetable patches — hard-hit areas by vast numbers of wild animals. Luckily, something smooth wrapped around the bottom of the tree can make the trunk too slippery for the raccoon to climb up, protecting anything growing above it. If the raccoon can get a bunk up from a close flower pot or tree branch, it will, but if it can't get high enough to reach the fruits, it will give up after a little while.
Ponds offer fruit, newts, frogs, and sometimes other marine life forms, and these are all sources of food for a raccoon too. You could look at creating a cover for your pond, particularly if you have prized-possession fish in there, or look at other ways to protect it. Once again; the more food sources you take out of reach for the raccoon, the less inclined it will be to hang around.
Bird feeders, chicken feed, cat and dog food bowls, garbage bags, compost heaps, open windows and doors … these are all things that lead to raccoon food, and even your lawn contains hoards of insects that the pest will love to eat. You might not mind the animal ridding your lawn and garden of insects, but you probably will mind the holes the animal digs in an attempt to get to those insects. Whichever way you look at it, raccoons are going to cause you problems and it's all in their quest for food.
The more difficult you make it for the raccoon to find food, the less it will want to stay in your yard or home. It will take you just one weekend to fully remove all food sources from your back yard, and protect areas that could offer alternatives, and that one weekend of hard work, inserting the appropriate modifications, could just save you from thousands of dollars worth of damage, further down the line.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does raccoon removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of raccoons - my main raccoon removal info guide.
Example raccoon trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Raccoon job blog - learn from great examples of raccoon jobs I've done.
Raccoons in the attic - what to do to solve the problem.