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Raccoons in House - Get them Out

01.25.2008 - People always ask me how to get raccoons out of the house.  Raccoons are common nuisance critters in neighborhoods, and they often break into houses.  They have very little fear of people, and just want a nice place to live.  Unfortunately, they can cause quite a bit of damage, in addition to noise.  I've seen raccoons in many areas of homes.  They most commonly break in somewhere on the roof and live in the attic.  I've also seen them live in eaves, inside wall cavities, down in chimneys, and other parts of the architecture.  Sometimes they even go into the living space of the house in search of food.  They can get in through the pet door or just claw their way in from an attic or wall space.

There's several ways to get rid of raccoons in the house.  If the raccoon is visible, I can actually snare it with a special snare pole.  This works if the racoon is cornered in a garage or inside the living space, or if I can reach it in the attic.  If the raccoon is small, or if it's a mother with young, I can usually grab the young by hand.   That's what I'm doing in the above photograph.  Note that I'm wearing a headlamp so that I can see in the dark attic, a mask to prevent me from breathing in insulation and airborne raccoon diseases such as roundworm, and a tyvek suit so that I can crawl on the insulation, to the tightest corners, without getting insulation in my skin.

Most of the time, I set traps to remove the raccoons.  I've set traps inside homes and attics plenty of times.  However, it's usually more effective to set the trap outside, when the animal goes out to forage, near the entry holes.  In the above case, I can actually use the little raccoons to lure in and trap the mother raccoon.

Once I get the raccoons out of the house, it's very important to seal shut the entry points, so that no more raccoons or other animals such as squirrels or rats get into the house.  I also clean up the mess they've made, including their droppings, which can carry parasites and diseases.

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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Where raccoons can get in your house - A raccoon, just like any other animal, can enter your home at any level. It only takes one damaged area, or an area where something has been left open or unfinished, for a raccoon to start ripping its way indoors. More often than not, this critter prefers to be up high in the building, setting up home in the attic, roof, chimney, or crawlspace. Most people find raccoons enter through eaves, soffits, and vents in the attic area. The ventilation material on eaves and soffits is often flimsy, and it doesn’t take much for a raccoon to peel back the plastic or metal sheeting. A chimney without a cap is also a prime location to find a raccoon infestation. Don’t think these animals can’t climb down the flue; they most certainly can. Not only will they live in your chimney, the female will probably have her litter of kits resting just on top of the damper. This means you cannot, under any circumstances, start a fire until all the animals have been removed from the chimney. Not only would it be a cruel way to kill baby raccoons, you’re more likely to have the adult come flying into the home instead of out the top at the roof.

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