Hi my name is Brendan Mangnitz, I have been in the Nuisance Wildlife Removal industry now for nearly 6 years since I graduated from College at UF with a background in Entomology and Wildlife Biology. I have seen and controlled just about any wildlife issue you may think of. I have dealt with Raccoons in apartments complex, Raccoon removal from your everyday house hold, Raccoons in the Attic, Raccoons digging up yards, Raccoons in Pools, Raccoons stuck in Chimney’s, and the list goes on and on. I have used several different control and removal methods for Raccoons and that’s what I want to share with you guys on our website here at Animal-Pros.com.
Raccoons are generally pretty easy to notice, rather they are on your property or have found their way into your attic. They are not neat and clean creatures and often leave a huge mess in their wake. You may have seen this before, as overturned trash cans is one of the most common signs of raccoon activity in an area. They also are known for digging up gardens, and stealing fruits and vegetables, often leaving them half eaten with dirt strewn everywhere. If you have a pond outside, you may even notice fish being eaten from it and left discarded on the yard surrounding it. Often times, unless you’re a night owl, you will only see the aftermath of raccoons as they do their hunting at night.
If you’re unlucky to have had a raccoon manage to get into your attic, you are probably experiencing more issues. These animals are not quiet by any means, and will make heavy thudding and dragging noises through most of the night. If you have small children in the home, these sounds can often be frightening for them. Often, raccoons sound a lot larger than they are, so it can sound like a person walking around in your attic. If a mama raccoon has gotten in with her pups, you can also hear occasional crying from the babies while the mother is out gathering food.
10 Simple Steps for Effective Raccoon Removal & Control
Rather you’re hearing noises or noticing destruction all around your property, raccoons are pretty easy to identify. Most times, this means you can identify if you have a problem relatively quickly. While you still may have difficulty catch this crafty animal, it is important to get a head start on starting to try.
Often, raccoons will choose your attic since it keeps them safe, and it is high ground which simulates their tree-burrow homes. Raccoons use your attic to seek shelter from harsh weather and from any predators in the area. Most times, it is a mama looking for a good place to have and raise her pups where they are safe from harm. Raccoon reproduction time is often in the spring, their mating time is in the late winter, so you might see a significant increase in raccoon activity during these times.
Since raccoons are large mammals, they generally need a larger space to enter the home through. However, raccoons are also relatively strong animals and can pull or pry open spots for them to get into, commonly you can see them do this with soffit. Less common, but still not something unusual, is a raccoon using an open garage door as an access. Once in the garage they can find a way to the attic, or if your garage is unused, they may even stay in there.
One of the most common places that raccoons gain entry is a roof return, this is where soffit meets roof in a dark corner. Typically, these already have a small gap in them, which raccoons pull further back to squeeze into. They will normally have one main access point, and this can be identified by black rub marks that they leave behind when wiggling their way in.
Many times, if you have low hanging branches close to your roof it can make raccoon access much easier. They will use these to jump onto your roof and from there find a spot to get in. However, they can also climb your walls to gain access to the roof.
Often, people associate raccoons with rabies. While, they are common carriers of the disease, there are other concerns that are more commonly found. Many of these diseases are transferrable not only to other animals but humans as well – which is double bad news if you have a household pet! One of the more common diseases is roundworm, raccoons often are discovered carrying roundworm and excrete eggs by their droppings. These eggs are potentially harmful to humans and can become airborne, meaning that if you inhale them you could be affected. Another disease spread through raccoon droppings is leptospirosis, this is also carried in their urine. This does require direct contact with urine or feces, so while you may think to wear gloves, your cat Mr. Flufferton will not and can easily contract this.
While they may look cute, raccoons are a serious risk once they are in your home. These risks are some of the main reasons that it is so important to identify a problem as soon as you possibly can. Getting a head of the issue can reduce your exposure to harmful risks!
Now comes the nasty stuff, identifying the poop. Yes, it’s gross, but yes, it’s also necessary. Identifying Raccoon Poop that you find is the most sure-fire way to ensure that you have a raccoon. Raccoon poop is very distinct from other animals that may be in your attic. Remember though, raccoon feces does have the potential to carry diseases, so before getting up close and personal with it, make sure you take proper precautions to protect yourself.
Most often, raccoon poop is in one location, however it can also be found in areas away from there as well so it is important to thoroughly check for it. Their droppings are fairly large, and may even resemble those of a small dog. Unlike rodent droppings, which look like grains of rice, raccoon droppings are tube-shaped and can often be 2-3 inches in length. One of the most commonly identifiers of raccoon poop is the evidence of berries. Raccoons love to eat berries, so you can often find these in their droppings.
Raccoons have adapted the “latrine system”, meaning that they tend to pick a select spot and use that location for most of their dirty business. Here, you will more than likely find large piles of feces that has been built up from usage of the area. Often, these latrines are located in corners of the attic space or along the walls. Like many mammals, raccoons do not like the idea of sleeping close to their own waste, so you can more than likely find the latrines in a corner adjacent to their nests.
You’ll probably want to set traps immediately to increase your chances of catching the culprit. There aren’t too many raccoon traps on the market so your options are limited, but the traps out there are proven to work! You can choose between a 1 door or 2 door trap, the main difference between these is that with the 2 door trap, you could potentially catch a second raccoon. You want to make sure that you are buying large cages, otherwise you run into the possibility that the raccoon may not fit.
Ideal placement of the traps is also a major component in effectively trapping raccoons. The best place is often going to be where you see the most activity. A great place is often near the main entry point that they are using, but make sure it is on the yard on not on your roof. Often times, people set traps on the roof or in the attic, this is not a great idea because the raccoon will freak out once caught regardless. If a trap is on the roof, he could fall and end up busting your trap open and escaping anyway. If the trap is in the attic, it will freak out and start grabbing at things, causing even more destruction in the attic than normal. Generally, traps are best placed on the ground, near fence lines and possibly even hidden by a tree or bush. This is typically the path a raccoon will take when out scouring for food.
Make sure that you always set the trap correctly, if not the raccoon may be able to enter and exit the trap without triggering the door to close. You also always want to make sure you check your traps every day, probably more than once each day, to ensure that the raccoon doesn’t die from over-heating. If you have a mama and babies, it is best to try and catch mama first, and then before you release her go into the attic and pull the babies out. This way, you can release them all together, giving the babies the opportunity to thrive. Make sure that when you relocate your trapped raccoon, you drive a far distance so that they will not try to find their way back. Often the best place to release them is in a wooded area, near a water source, so that they have a higher chance of survival.
Since raccoons LITERALLY eat garbage, you may be wondering what kind of bait would be your best bet for catching these guys. Well, it’s no secret that raccoons will eat pretty much anything that you put in front of them; however, there are some baits that will attract them a bit more than others. Much like a small toddler, raccoons love sugary fatty foods. When you use more sweet things, you are more likely to catch a raccoon, whereas if you primarily use fruits and vegetables you might end up catching any other wildlife roaming in the area. One of the most proven baits to use has been marshmallows, the sugary sweet scent will lure the raccoon in thinking that they are in for a delicious fluffy treat. You can also use watermelon, vegetables covered in honey to give them added sweetness, or cat food. Beware with cat food though, you will often end up catching the neighborhood cat a couple times as well- and if you have a crazy cat lady next door she will NOT appreciate it.
You want to make sure that the bait isn’t haphazardly thrown into the cage, it needs to be placed at the back of the trap to encourage the raccoon to actually walk into the trap and not just try to reach in and grab it. Also, you may want to wear gloves when setting and baiting your trap, as the human scent may trigger them into thinking that something is going on. Sometimes raccoons will be overly protective of food sources, so be careful approaching a raccoon if they are eating. These pesky creatures have sharp claws and can carry a wide variety of zoonotic diseases.
You may not catch your raccoon in the first couple of days, or even week. It is a timely process that could span over a couple of weeks. It is important not to get impatient and realize that these are wild animals and it can take time. If the bait you’re using doesn’t work after the first week, try switching; however, switching too often can sometimes deter the raccoon from taking it as it is unfamiliar food every day. Too much change too fast will not be helpful.
Trapping a raccoon definitely is a long and excruciating process and at times you may find yourself wondering if there are any other solutions to trapping them. Trapping is the most guaranteed solution, but you could try to poison or deter the raccoon in other ways.
There is no designated “raccoon poison”, and often times attempting to poison a raccoon will not solve the problem like you might expect. Using common household poisons to saturate bait food in may end up killing other animals instead. If you are trying to poison a raccoon in your attic, this can come back to bite you because if they find a secluded place to die you will be left with a terrible odor that you might not be able to locate or get to.
There are also several different types of repellents to use outdoors as well, in case you are just experiencing issues with raccoons on property and not necessarily in your attic space. These are also not guaranteed to work, however you can spray them on your garbage can, and around your yard as a precautionary measure. These are not one-and- done applications and must be constantly reapplied.
There are raccoon deterrents that can occasionally work. The best time to use these is on a mother raccoon and her babies if they aren’t quite settled in yet. You can purchase male raccoon synthetic urine from any wildlife store and place it on the main entrance point. Male raccoons will often eat baby raccoons so if a mother senses a male presence she may pick up her babies and leave. This is not a guaranteed shot, and is not nearly as effective as trapping would be; however, there are people who have had success with this method.
If you have a pool at home, your family probably loves taking a nice relaxing dip in the cool waters, especially during the summer. The same can be said for raccoons! They love taking swims in any body of water, and a pool is perfect for that. You may often see raccoons washing their little paws, or even various foods, in bodies of water; it’s super cute! Until it’s in your pool. The warming and cooling feeling on the raccoons paws creates a sensation for the raccoon to need to deficate.
Raccoons often will poop in pools also, this is probably the biggest issue that comes with sharing a pool with a raccoon. It’s all fun and games until someone poops in the pool, after all. You may be wondering why? Why, of all the places, would a raccoon poop in your beautiful pool? Quite simply, because they are wild animals, they have an instinct to want to try and hide their poop. In their tiny complex little raccoon brains, pooping in water makes the poop go away. We know this is not the case. I'm sure the last thing you want to do is skim raccoon droppings from your pristine pool or off of your pool deck.
While it is disgusting, and definitely more work for you than anything, I assure you: the raccoon is not being spiteful. It’s simply nature taking its course. However, if you have been having an issue with a raccoon pooping in your pool, make sure that your pool is properly cleaned out and that the chemicals have been readjusted before anyone goes swimming again.