Learn powerful up to date methods from the experts that will stop Raccoons in their tracks and get rid of them for good.
Lets get started!
32 Minute Read
Table of Contents (Double Tap to Jump)
Learn about the facts about raccoons, why they invade homes, and how you can get rid of raccoons fast using the latest in science, technology, and removal approaches.
Relationship Between Raccoons and People
Known for their distinctive black “mask” over their eyes, a ringed tail, and their craftiness, raccoons have an almost “cute” appearance from a distance. But up close, raccoons are potentially dangerous animals and one that should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. The average raccoon has grey and black fur and is about the size of a housecat or small dog. They are talented animals, as they have five-fingered hands that move and act with outstanding coordination – not unlike human hands. It allows them to solve problems, including how to open containers, that other animals cannot solve.
They are also one of the smartest wild animals, especially for city wildlife, with excellent intelligence and memory. It’s that intelligence that makes them a pest, as they are able to break into the trash, steal pet food, and more.
Raccoons live throughout North America and can be found in every state. They are scavengers, and their adaptability enables them to live in multiple habitats, from forests to mountains to coastal areas. They require trees nearby in order to climb and escape predators. In recent centuries, they have moved into urban areas and are beginning to coexist more often with people.
This process of living in proximity to people is called synurbanization. The raccoon loses its fear of humans and in return takes advantage of trash, gardens, and food storage that people create for sustenance. Urban raccoons learn to depend on litter, trash cans, bird feeders, and other manmade items to provide their main food source.
In nature and urban settings, a raccoon will eat almost anything. They often consume nuts, fruits, corn, insects, worms, fish, and amphibians. Eggs, both from birds and reptiles, make up much of the raccoon’s diet as well, even to the extent of decimating endangered populations. As a nocturnal animal, raccoons do most of their foraging and hunting at night but can come out in the day if food is scarce.
Raccoons begin their mating season in late winter, and females about to give birth or with young will establish a den which could be in a natural setting or inside a home. Otherwise, raccoons are more transient. Those in colder climates will become less active during the winter.
A raccoon in the wild generally lives between 2 and 3 years. During that time, female raccoons often stay within a few miles of the area they were born, taking advantage of their knowledge of dens and food sources. Males will roam more freely.
Risks of Raccoons
Raccoons are considered nuisance wildlife by many for their ability to get into trash and food storage, usually leaving behind a mess. If they enter a building to access food or to seek a sheltered area to give birth, they are a risk to cause significant damage to siding, roofs, ductwork, and wiring. Raccoons can dig up lawns as well in the process of finding grubs to eat, pulling up large sections of turf.
Beyond the inconvenience of the messes, there are significant health risks associated with these animals. Raccoons have the potential to carry diseases, which they can then transmit to humans or other animals through different forms of contact. Common raccoon-borne illnesses include:
Rabies – Spread through the saliva of an infected animal, a bite from a raccoon could give this virus to you or your pets. There is a potential for this to be deadly if immediate treatment is not administered. A rabid raccoon often shows unusual behavior including staggering or erratic movements, discharge from the eyes and mouth, strange cries, and self-mutilation. Rabies causes death in raccoons in 3 days or less.
Roundworm – Raccoon feces can contain a parasitic roundworm that is transmitted through direct contact or inhalation. This makes it important to keep raccoons out of home and clean up thoroughly if raccoon droppings are present. Avoid touching feces, or letting children or pets near them.
Canine Distemper – While not dangerous for humans, a raccoon can spread canine distemper to your dog through contact. It is often fatal. Dogs should be vaccinated against distemper and kept away from wild animals. A raccoon with distemper is more likely to approach people and may act disoriented or lethargic.
There is the potential for raccoons with or without disease to act aggressively towards people and pets. Though they may be generally used to humans, these are wild animals and will bite or scratch if they feel they’re in danger. When a raccoon feels trapped or scared, or they have young near them, they are particularly prone to aggression and can be considerably dangerous.
Are Raccoons Hard to Get Rid Of?
If a raccoon is currently living in a den on your property or inside your house, removing it yourself without a professional’s help carries several risks. This is especially true if there are babies because the mother will be more protective. Physically removing a raccoon is best done by a professional who can safely handle the raccoon and take it to a more appropriate habitat.
Removing a raccoon on your own, while not impossible, is not advised. It can also be challenging to capture a raccoon and the process is often subject to local legislation regarding the handling of wildlife. Experience or training make the process both simpler and safer. If it is not an urgent issue, you can often wait the raccoon out and it will eventually leave.
Once a raccoon is gone for the day, you can take steps to prevent the raccoon from coming back by eliminating the places they feed or travel.
To get rid of raccoons, you will need a general understanding of what they like and dislike. Getting rid of them will require some time and effort to complete a few tasks around your property to deter raccoons. There isn’t a single solution to keep raccoons away forever. However, small and manageable steps are often enough to manage them unless the population is extreme.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons Fast
Determining that raccoons are present is the first step in getting rid of them. They are most commonly out at night so you might not see one to confirm they are around. Instead, watch for these signs:
Open trash cans or trash strewn about.
Five-toed prints measuring about 3” to 4” inches long.
Holes and claw marks around your home if a raccoon has forced its way in.
Missing pet food or birdseed.
Calls resembling an owl’s whistle at night.
Some of these signs can be similar to other animals like skunks or opossums. The primary difference is that raccoons are larger and do not leave behind the unique scents of a skunk or scared opossum. They are also even less fearful of humans, so you are a bit more likely to see one at night if you look.
If a raccoon is inside, under your home, deck, or a shed, or appears infected with rabies, fast removal is essential. These are often considered emergency situations when a professional is necessary. There are also other situations when you may need to get rid of a raccoon fast, such as to reduce damage to your property. Some of the ways to get rid of raccoons include:
Trapping – The fastest way to remove a live raccoon is through trapping, often done professionally but also possible through DIY methods in certain cases. This is best used for raccoons that are living places like under a deck or in a den on a property. Professional trapping usually takes a few hours or less. DIY traps can take a few days. Homeowners should not hesitate to get a raccoon removed as every moment it is present can mean more damage to repair later.
Exclusion – This process keeps raccoons from coming back inside your home or an area of your yard through the use of physical barriers. It can also address raccoons on the property with one-way exits, although this relies on waiting for the raccoon to leave by itself and might take a few days. Exclusion is an effective way to keep raccoons away.
Repellents – The effectiveness varies for repellents, with many wildlife control experts finding they accomplish little and others depending heavily on them. When they work, repellents can deter raccoons immediately or within a few hours. They usually need to be reapplied regularly to continuously deter animals.
Professional Wildlife Removal – The fastest, and often safest, way to remove a raccoon, professional assistance can trap and exclude these nuisance animals. When you do not have time to wait on a raccoon invasion, you should call a company specializing in wildlife control.
Because of the dangers of raccoon removal, many homeowners rely on a professional company to manage the trapping and relocation of raccoons before handling exclusion and repelling themselves. This takes advantage of the expedient removal services professionals can provide, and the affordability of DIY prevention methods.
Can You Get Rid of Raccoons on Your Own?
Whether you can get rid of raccoons on your own depends on the specific challenge, your comfort level with wildlife, and your ability to implement a few changes to your home and yard. A rabid raccoon or manual handling of a mother and her young is often too great a risk and is best left to a local professional wildlife company.
Getting rid of raccoons in the long term by preventing them from entering your yard or home can be done on your own. This option is affordable and, with the right effort and products, as effective as professional raccoon control. You should follow this process:
Inspection – After you’ve noticed the signs of raccoons, carefully look through your yard, basement, attic, and beneath any decking. You might find raccoons present, in which case you will need to have them removed first. You should search for any areas they might enter as well, like a vent or damaged siding. Whether they are present or not, also search out access to food, like trash, pet food, or rotting fruit.
Removal – An animal inside needs to be removed. Many people choose to involve a professional at this step. If you will be handling removal yourself, remember that many raccoons with dens will have kits present that need to be removed with their mother.
Exclusion – The next step is to address the areas you noted during your inspection by removing any breaches that a raccoon could squeeze through. This can involve repairs and screening off areas that were previously open. More intensive repairs might require special tools and handyman experience, while many can be done with no skills.
Eliminate Habitat – You will also address the areas you noted where a raccoon might find food. Depending on the source, you can lock down containers, bring food inside, and clean up gardens. This step is often ongoing as yards change, especially if you have a garden.
Raccoons that have been traveling to your property consistently for trash or other food may continue to come back for a while as part of their route, expecting the food to be present. It may take time for them to realize that the food is gone and move on.
After implementing exclusion and habitat management around your property, you will need to monitor the area for ongoing raccoon activity. Check regularly for the signs of raccoons. Throughout different seasons, activity may be different and habitats in your yard may reemerge. Early detection helps you address any additional needed changes before raccoons can become a problem once more.
How to Remove a Raccoon
Raccoon removal methods that do not cause you to interact with the raccoon are generally safe enough to attempt on your own. Trapping can be dangerous. Before attempting it, be aware of the potential risks and take precautions to ensure your safety.
You should also research any state or county laws that limit trapping or relocation. In different localities, some methods for trapping are illegal, as is causing harm to wildlife. Required permits and acceptable relocation is often outlined by regulations. Discussing your options with a county wildlife agency can help you determine which actions are available to you.
When you are ready to remove a raccoon, you can use one of the following methods:
Traps – Purchase a commercial trap designed for raccoons and place it according to the manufacturer’s directions, usually in an area where you have noticed the signs of raccoons or near their nest. Bait can include almost any food as raccoons are not picky. Every morning, check the trap. If you catch the raccoon, relocate it according to legislation and at least 10 miles from your home to keep it from returning. You should avoid certain traps, such as grip traps, that are designed to kill a raccoon as these are illegal in many states. Additionally, do not use a trap if babies are present since removing the mother will result in their death.
One Way Raccoon Door – A form of exclusion, placing a one-way door over the known entry to a raccoon’s den allows them to leave at night to forage but prevents them from coming back in. This can take a few days if the raccoon does not leave its nest nightly. This method is inappropriate for mothers with kits as it will strand the babies.
Scare a Raccoon Out – If a raccoon has access to the outdoors, you can sometimes use noise and lights to scare it, prompting it to return outdoors. For instance, shine a flashlight up a chimney to harmlessly frighten a raccoon there. Make sure not to get too close so that the startled animal cannot attack defensively.
Rat poison has also been used to kill raccoons, but there are several reasons not to use it. Poison results in a slow, painful death for raccoons which is considered inhumane. It is also dangerous to house pets and children who might inadvertently ingest it.
Unless the raccoon is showing signs of disease, extermination is rarely the recommended method for removing it. In addition, if you believe extermination is necessary, it should be performed by a professional as the remains can still carry pathogens.
How to Prevent Raccoons
Raccoons take up residence in an area because there is a dependable source of food nearby, access to water, and a sheltered place to den that is warm and protected from predators. The last is a primary concern of female raccoons with kits or about to give birth. Male raccoons or raccoons out of breeding season are more likely to roam.
Because female raccoons will often stay near the area they were born, preventative measures need to be extensive in order to be effective. A moderate effort will not deter a raccoon who is already familiar with your property and the surrounding ones. In a big city, raccoons will rarely be deterred from an area because there are almost always food sources nearby. Even in more rural areas, raccoons will likely come back unless changes are made. Ideally, raccoons need to be physically prevented from entering or your yard needs to be undesirable so that they are made to go elsewhere to seek out food and shelter.
The more comprehensive your efforts towards raccoon control, the less likely you will see raccoons. For maximum protection, focus on these steps:
Exclusion – Before beginning exclusion, check any raccoon hiding spots for babies to make sure none are left. Then seal up any possible ways a raccoon could come into your home. This often involves capping chimneys, patching holes, screening off crawlspaces and decks, and installing vents animals cannot get through. Each home can have different needs for a successful exclusion and your efforts should be tailored to your situation.
Lock Trash Cans – Raccoons’ nimble hands can get into trash cans despite lids and knock cans over to spill the trash out. Invest in locking trash cans and keep them locked at night so raccoons can’t get in. Cleaning your garbage cans regularly will keep the scent of food from building up and attracting raccoons as well.
Remove Pet Food – Either feed your cats and dogs in the house or bring their food bowls inside at night. Also, be aware of any pet food in proximity to a pet door as this can tempt raccoons inside if the door is open.
Eliminate Scattered Bird Seed – You don’t have to remove a bird feeder altogether, but make sure extra seed is not falling on the ground by installing a tray about 6 inches below the feeder to catch seeds. You should hang feeders on poles or away from trees raccoons could use to access the bird feeder.
Trim Back Trees – Raccoons are able climbers and can scale trees. If a branch comes near your roof, raccoons can use it as a bridge to get onto your roof or to climb through open vents or soffits. This is a common way that raccoons get access to attics where they can cause damage to wiring, insulation, and ductwork.
Maintain the Garden – The smell of rotting fruit and vegetables is strong enough to attract raccoons from a distance. Harvest crops once they are ready or collect all decaying plants regularly and remove them.
Perimeter Fencing – Since raccoons can climb, fencing to keep them out must be electric. You can install electric fencing around a garden or your entire yard and it will help keep out raccoons and other wildlife. If you have a standard privacy fence, cutting bushes and trees away from it will make it less easy to climb, although not impossible.
Raccoon Repellents – There are several brands of raccoon repellents that use natural and chemical ingredients to deter raccoons. They are available in sprays, granules, and liquids. Often they work by creating an unpleasant smell or causing the animal slight irritation. They often prove ineffective and should be used with care, especially if you have household pets that spend time in the area treatments are applied.
DIY raccoon exclusion may not keep raccoons out of your yard indefinitely. Habitat management will effectively make your property less appealing, but a desperate raccoon may still enter. As they are generally not a concern as long as they don’t come inside and you or a pet doesn’t confront them, managing the raccoon population is typically enough to ensure your safety.
If you have not made efforts to keep raccoons out previously, the first steps will require the most time and effort. Ongoing maintenance over the following years is necessary, although it is often a smaller task than the initial exclusion.
Natural Raccoon Control and Home Remedies for Raccoons
Repellents factor into some plans to ward off raccoons and make your yard less hospitable to them. Some people will use them to force raccoons living in their yards to leave. Repellents containing chemicals can be toxic for people and your family’s cats and dogs. They can also be expensive. Homeowners may therefore rely on more natural methods of repelling raccoons instead.
Many of the home remedies for raccoons are made from ingredients you already have on hand or are products that you can purchase at a hardware store or online. They include:
Apple Cider Vinegar – Placing a bowl filled with apple cider vinegar near a place where raccoons have made a den can tempt them to leave since they do not like the smell of the vinegar. This is most often recommended for raccoon nests in chimneys. Placing the bowl in the fireplace will carry the scent up to the nest.
Cayenne Pepper – Raccoons dislike peppers and other spices, both for their taste and smell. You can cut up hot peppers, soak them in water, and spray the solution around your yard. Alternatively, you can sprinkle powdered cayenne, black pepper, or cinnamon around garbage cans or places raccoons may make a den.
Predator Urine – The scent of coyote or urine from the raccoon’s predators will make the raccoon think the area is dangerous for them and lead them to avoid it. Urine is often available commercially.
Ammonia – Placing ammonia-soaked cotton balls or rags around your property might deter raccoons due to the smell. This should be done with caution as it can be an irritant if breathed in high concentrations and pets must be kept away from it.
Scented Trash Bags – Trash bags scented with mint or other smells that deter raccoons can help keep the animals from going after the trash inside of the bags. There are bags made of natural ingredients that are safe but have the same effect.
Noise – A startling noise will frighten a raccoon away, so shouting or clapping when you see one can deter it. Aggressive raccoons might return as soon as the noise stops, and raccoons will learn over time that there is no danger and cease to run at the noise.
Motion Sensor Devices – Special devices can light up or make a noise when they sense motion to startle a raccoon. These are often available online or at a home improvement store. While they may work in the short term, raccoons will quickly learn that they are harmless and work around them.
These are not necessarily ineffective, but their limited scientific backing makes them best used as a supplemental step in addition to maintaining your yard and excluding your home. They often produce only minimal effects in areas with a significant raccoon population.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons Permanently
Getting rid of raccoons involves addressing several different details. It is not uncommon for people to spend several months attempting to keep raccoons off their property only to find there are as many of these animals as when they began. Conflicting information online, a missed entry point or aggressive raccoons can hinder your efforts to remove raccoons. This is where professional raccoon control by a licensed and insured wildlife control company can be essential. A trained wildlife expert uses advanced knowledge and equipment to manage raccoons. With their experience in mitigating invasions, they are equipped to identify and rectify the factors that draw raccoons.
If the raccoon is nesting inside your home, getting rid of it quickly is the only way to prevent extensive damage. Raccoons are larger animals and accordingly cause greater damage than other wildlife pests like rats and bats. Having a raccoon removed quickly is both a matter of safety and property protection. In these cases, it is recommended that homeowners move directly to calling a professional.
Professional Raccoon Removal
A wildlife control specialist can remove a raccoon from any of the places they normally nest. An outdoor space or roof are common locations, but raccoons may make dens in attics, garages, crawl spaces, and basements. When that happens, there are likely to be baby raccoons present as well.
An inspection precedes removal and allows the wildlife professional to determine the optimal method of removal based on how many raccoons are present and where they are located. A reputable wildlife control company will use humane methods and avoid killing the raccoon unless there is a health concern. Instead, they will relocate it to a safe distance and in accordance with local regulations.
The various means with which a professional will remove raccoons are:
Live Trapping – This process, which is commonly used for adult raccoons, involves placing baited traps in the area where raccoons are present. The raccoon is able to enter the trap, which then closes behind it, holding the raccoon. The wildlife specialist will return to monitor the traps and relocate the raccoon when it is caught.
Manual Removal – Since baby raccoons will not enter a trap on their own, the presence of kits requires manual removal. The technician collects the babies using the proper safety equipment and procedures and then captures the female. They are relocated as a group to a predetermined area. This ensures the safety of the young raccoons but is more expensive than trapping.
Clean Up – While they’ve been living inside your home, raccoons leave bacteria-containing droppings and debris that cause health problems once the raccoons are gone or attract other pests. This bacteria resides in the insulation and drywall where raccoons made their nests. Some wildlife control companies can remove contaminated materials, clean droppings, and restore the area.
Dead Raccoon Removal – The remains of a raccoon have the potential to carry several different pathogens that can be spread through contact or inhalation. A professional will safely collect the remains and dispose of them, as well as sanitize the area to remove any remaining bacteria or parasites.
Because raccoons can behave aggressively or spread disease, some wildlife control companies offer 24 hour emergency raccoon removal services that are available at extended hours, and sometimes around the clock. If available in your area, this can provide rapid response in a situation requiring immediate attention. A police department is another option if animal control is not available.
Professional Raccoon Exclusion
Raccoon exclusion by professionals is the most effective way to keep raccoons out permanently. Without exclusion, raccoons can simply return after removal. There is even a high chance of re-entry since raccoons spend much of their lives in the same area. Professional exclusion begins with a thorough examination of your home and yard. The technician will identify holes in your home raccoons might potentially enter through and patch them. This can include screening the areas under porches and decks, installing animal-proof vents, installing chimney caps, and placing raccoon fencing around the border of your property.
An experienced wildlife control company will also recommend fixes you can make throughout your property so that the area is less attractive to raccoons. The exclusion will prevent raccoons, and often other animals, from invading your home and suggestions for mitigating the raccoons’ habitat can help keep them from your yard indefinitely.
Get Rid of Raccoons in FL and GA
Wherever you live, raccoons should be handled with caution. Better yet, they should only be handled by a trained professional. Nextgen Pest Solutions is a leading provider of wildlife removal services for customers based in Florida and Georgia. We humanely trap and remove raccoons when they invade a property, provide cleanup services, exclusion, and 24 hour emergency support.
Chat with us, fill out the contact form, or give us a call 24/7 at 866-827-7231 to speak with an agent.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Remove a Raccoon?
The timeline depends on the removal method you are using. A professional removal ranges from a few hours for manually handling a mother and babies to a few days for trapping. DIY raccoon trapping can similarly take a few days based on how effective the trap placement is. Scaring a raccoon out of your home or yard will generally work immediately if it is going to work. Likewise, using repellents to flush out a raccoon, when effective, will take a few hours to a couple days.
Waiting for a raccoon to move on its own can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, especially if food is easily available. Removing food sources will often hasten this process.
What Should I Do If Bit by a Raccoon?
First, know that raccoons almost only attack in defense. It is rarely unprovoked, so giving the raccoon space is the best protection against a bite. If you are bitten, flush the bite with water and soap and apply an antiseptic. It is recommended that you also seek medical attention for rabies. Although rare, the post-exposure treatment for rabies is 100% effective and safe when administered in a timely manner. It can help to have a professional capture the animal so it can be tested for rabies, but is not necessary. Only a few people die from rabies each year and the CDC has only one recorded human death of rabies transmitted by a raccoon.
Do DIY Methods Work at Properties Besides Homes, Like Businesses or Apartments?
Yes. DIY prevention methods are extremely effective at any property, although they may need to be significantly scaled up if your property is large. For removal of an adult raccoon or baby raccoons, professional assistance is recommended for businesses or multifamily living situations as attempting to capture the raccoon yourself can put customers or tenants at risk during the process.
How Much Does it Cost to Get Rid of Raccoons Professionally?
The cost of removal depends on whether the wildlife control professional uses traps or manual removal to address raccoons. Traps range from $75 to $150 per trap placed. Manual removal, due to the increased risk and involved process, can be upwards of $500. Your location and local pricing will also impact the cost.
Because raccoons are potentially dangerous when they come in contact with people, choosing a wildlife control service that you can trust is more important than pricing alone. There are people who offer to assist with raccoon removal, but do not have the necessary licensure, experience, or equipment to perform a safe and humane trapping.