Raccoons in Chimney - Get them Out


05.08.2005 - Your chimney is just like a big, hollow tree to some animals.  Critters such as squirrels and raccoons are great climbers.   They need a safe, dry place in which to live, so if your chimney has no chimney cap, get ready for some visitors!

Female raccoons instinctively seek out high areas in which to create a nest.  Because raccoons are so common in urban areas, they often climb on houses and other buildings looking for a good place to set up a nest.  If they see an open chimney, that's a great place to pick.  They can easily climb down the flue, as seen in the above photo, and they usually set up a nest and have a litter of baby raccoons at the bottom.

If you have raccoons in the chimney there's several things you can do.  The best is to set a special chimney trap at the top of the flu, which catches the raccoon as it exits.  If there's babies inside, they can then be safely removed by hand.  You can also set a ground trap at the base of the chimney and do the same thing, though the capture rate may not be 100%, like with the chimney trap.  You can scare the mama out and remove the young, then use the young as live bait.  Or, you can use a long chimney snare pole to grab and remove them all.

Repellants, such as ammonia or sound makers, don't really help.  Please don't start a fire!  They won't all make it out alive, and it's incredibly inhumane!

Once all the raccoons are out, install a sturdy steel chimney cap to prevent this from happening again.  Oh, and if you don't have a cap, make sure the damper is closed, or else critters may wind up inside your home and not just the chimney.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Raccoons page for tips and advice.
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The raccoon (Procyon lotor), is a unique animal native to North America. It's not closely related to any other animals, with distant relatives such as bears and weasels. Coons are easy to recognize, with a black mask and ringed tail. Raccoons tend to weigh between 10-20 pounds as adults. They are mostly nocturnal, and are omnivores. Racoons average a lifespan of about 5 years in the wild, and have a litter of 3-6 young each spring. They are very strong, excellent climbers, very intelligent, and they are very skilled with their hands. Raccoons have learned to thrive in urban areas, and live in very high densities in cities, where they eat garbage and pet food. They commonly break into homes and attics, where they cause considerable damage, and they also destroy other property, and thus racoons are considered pest animals by many people. Raccoon control and removal, especially from inside homes, is best left to a professional.

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Raccoons are versatile animals and can run, climb, swim, and burrow. Their ability to climb trees makes it easy for them to get onto roofs and chimneys. During spring or summer, pregnant raccoons often break into houses to build a den where they can birth and nurture their cubs. One of the places where they establish such dens is the chimney.

Finding raccoons in a chimney is not an uncommon sight. Chimneys are dark and quiet, proving to be a safe place for the raccoons. Sounds coming from the chimney at night alerts the home occupants to the presence of raccoons. So how do we get them out?

Prevention, as they say, is better than cure.
Raccoons get onto your roof by climbing nearby trees with overhanging branches, so make sure to trim your trees to limit their access to your roof. Also, protect your chimney by sealing it with a sturdy chimney cap.

Raccoons that get into your chimney are looking for a safe and quiet place, so employing noise can scare the raccoon away. Place a radio set near the damper, set it to a talk station, and let it play 24/7 at the highest volume. Also, bang on the hamper regularly. You will hear the sound of the raccoon moving about, removing her babies one at a time.

Predator fluid
If noise fails to scare the raccoon away, make use of predator fluid. This is the urine of coyotes or raccoon eviction fluid which has the scent of a dominant male raccoon. Sprinkle the liquid into the chimney, or soak a rag in it and drop it down the flue. It is not advisable to open the damper because baby raccoons or the mother may fall through into your fireplace and become agitated in your house. This method has a high success rate.

Be patient
Raccoons in your chimney do not stay there forever. If it is a male raccoon, it will be alone and you will only need to wait for it to go out on its nightly scavenge then seal your chimney. If it is a female raccoon, there will be babies in the chimney. These babies can't move, so you would have to wait for at least three months for them to become mobile, then when they go out to look for food, you can seal the chimney to prevent reentry.

Use live bait
If you aren't able to wait for the raccoons to leave on their own, you can use the raccoon babies as live bait. When the mother raccoon goes out to get food, carefully remove the babies, and place them in a cardboard box along the route the mother passes. Seal your chimney and other points of entry after you've made sure there are no babies left in the chimney. Don't forget to use gloves when handling them.

Call professional wildlife removal experts.
Get help from removal experts and put an end to the raccoon infiltration once and for all.

It is important to mention that you should NEVER LIGHT A FIRE. It may be tempting, but lighting a fire to scare them away from the chimney does more harm to both your house and the raccoons. It does not solve the problem, only creates more.

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