Visits from raccoons are a nocturnal event for many of us, and while they look cute, assuming you ever see them, it can be hell living next to them, noisily knocking over trash cans in search of food, and wreaking havoc in the garden ruin, ruin the lawn, annoy pets, eat food you leave for garden birds, make off with pet chickens, and even damage the fabric of your home.
If these signs aren’t enough evidence that you have an infestation, you can spot their tracks on damp soil or their dark, cylindrical droppings. And maybe you were woken up by their nightly noises, which in turn no doubt woke up your dog and maybe the whole neighborhood.
So how do you get rid of raccoons? “There are methods you can use to kill raccoons, but unlike eliminating mice, which can breed at an alarming rate, we would recommend a humane approach that’s more about removal or deterrence,” he says Houses & GardensGardens Editor Rachel Crow. “What course of action you take depends on where the raccoons are on your property, the time of year, whether there is a mother and babies, and the strength of the agents you plan to use.”
Below we’ll walk you through the options, many of which are surprisingly simple.
How to get rid of raccoons in the garden
To be fair to the raccoons, they don’t know they’re in there your garden, tear up your prized flowers, invade your lawn, make off with your chickens, trash your birdseed, knock over your trash and nest under your deck. But as much as we want to indulge in this live-and-let-live approach with wildlife, there comes a time when their visits feel like destructive invasions and they have to leave.
So how to drive raccoons away from the yard – or at least discourage them from settling there and using it as a self-service buffet? Unlike trying to get rid of squirrels, they are more easily deterred. These are the best options:
- Remove their food sources: This means a pest controller has to rid the lawn of the maggots that live there – if there are fewer of these to munch on, the raccoons are less likely to come back; it also means making sure the chicken coop is impenetrable; dog food is brought into the house; Birdseed is hung high up on narrow poles, and anything on the floor is cleaned up each night; and garbage cans are sealed and locked.
- Install security lighting that detects raccoons: These nocturnal animals are scared away by sudden, bright light.
- Spread smells that raccoons hate on the ground around the house and yard – more on that below.
How to get rid of raccoons in the attic and on the roof
Get rid of raccoons in the attic is not as easy as it sounds. “Raccoons are in your attic because they found a safe nesting place for themselves and their babies. And if you have raccoons in the attic, you’ll worry about damage and noise, it’s probably a female with babies, and aggressive tactics will leave the babies defenseless,” says Rachel Crow. Instead, try the following:
- Wait for nesting to finish (Baby raccoons are born between January and June) and they take a couple of weeks to grow. At this point, speak to an experienced pest controller who can safely remove and humanely relocate them.
- Prevent them from getting in at all by sealing all access points around your roof. Using a heavy duty galvanized wire mesh makes them really hard to get in.
- Make the attic unfriendly: They love to nest somewhere comfortable, just like us, so don’t provide them with options for bedding or food, and use some of the home remedies to create smells they hate (more on that below) to help them to prevent from entering.
Get rid of raccoons on the roof or in the chimney should prevent them from getting to the attic in the first place, although they are great climbers so you may find this difficult. It’s worth the effort, however, as they will damage roofing materials and attempt to nest in air vents and chimneys if they can’t nest in the attic, which is anything from desirable to downright dangerous.
- Keep raccoons from returning to your yard by removing potential food sources. If they don’t have snacks to return to, they’re less likely to seek shelter indoors.
- look at yours backyard landscaping for possible routes to the roof. Everything from climbers to trees is an access route. Cut or remove them to make life harder for an exploring raccoon.
- Don’t be tempted to climb onto the roof – that’s disaster potential without the proper safety precautions. Instead, hire a professional company to remove the raccoons for you.
- Seal the chimney and vents with wire mesh so the raccoons don’t nest in it.
How to get rid of raccoons under the house or deck
Just as with a raccoon invasion of your attic, raccoons are likely to be under your house or deck because they are nesting. Many of the points served to keep them out of your yard and attic. These include:
- Wait for nesting to finish or ask an experienced pest controller to humanely remove and relocate them.
- removing their food sources around the house and yard, from birdseed to rubbish.
- Place lights with motion detection where they entered.
- Raccoons hate spraying smells around the basement and deck – more on that below.
- Seal access points around your home with heavy duty galvanized wire mesh.
- Remove all possible litter occasions.
How to get rid of raccoons in house walls
Getting rid of raccoons in walls is a lot more complicated, but it’s a must: raccoons are noisy at night and will damage wiring and break down insulation to make beds. When they get back into the walls they’ll no doubt have babies, but we suspect you’ll be less patient and wait out their breeding season. It is best to contact a professional pest controller with experience in raccoon control. You can safely remove them, giving you the task of figuring out how they got in and closing the gaps so they or their raccoon friends can’t get in in the future.
What smell keeps raccoons away?
Like other pests that visit your home and garden, raccoons have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. That’s often why they’re drawn to your home: because they can sniff out trash, pet food, and maggots. However, this incredible sense of smell can also be used against them with deterrents that we don’t find offensive, but they really do. Below we list the smells that raccoons hate and you can use to keep them out of your home and garden:
- garlic: Crush, juice or buy garlic oil and spread around the house and garden. Or put your brew in a bowl next to entry points they’ve previously worked their way through to keep them from getting back in.
- pepperoni: Think what that does your Nose; This is an irritating spice for raccoons, they hate the smell.
- peppermint: Sure, you can plant this around your yard and entryways to your home to deter them, but a bowl of essential oil gives off a strong scent enough to keep them away.
- Epsom salt: Raccoons hate this too, so place it where they usually roam around the yard and house.
- onions: The scent of fresh onions is enough to make our eyes water, so you can imagine raccoons hating it.
- Vinegar: Just like other pests, raccoons hate the smell of vinegar, so this is another home remedy you can use to keep them away.
Note that these deterrents deter raccoons but must be used in conjunction with some of the other methods of getting rid of raccoons, including professional pest control.
What is a home remedy to get rid of raccoons?
There are a number of smells that raccoons hate that can be used to deter them. These include raw garlic, onions, and chili peppers. Mix them up in a bowl and set them up around your house to deter them. Note, however, that the best methods of getting rid of them require more thorough approaches, including sealing entry points, using bright motion detectors at night, and professional removal.
Does vinegar keep raccoons away?
Vinegar deters raccoons from coming back to your home and yard since they hate the smell. As if using peppermint oil to deter them, you can soak a series of rags in vinegar and then place them at key entry points around your home and yard to keep them away, though until the smell fades.