When you first see a raccoon in your yard, you might not think much of it. After all, raccoons are amusing little creatures. The issue is that raccoons can also cause a ton of damage. Plus, they can spread diseases, including many that are harmful to people.
There are several options for how to keep raccoons away from your home. Removing food and water sources and bright lights are easy ways to begin. There are also natural deterrents – like spicy peppers and vinegar sprays – and devices like motion-activated sprayers and ultrasonic raccoon repellent.
But those options aren’t the only ones, and which one is best for you may depend on the nuances of your situation. If you need to figure out how to keep raccoons away from your deck, shed, or house, here’s what you need to know.
- How to Figure Out If Raccoons Are the Problem
- Are Raccoons Dangerous?
- How to Keep Raccoons Away from Your Deck, Shed, and House?
- What Scent Will Keep Raccoons Away?
- How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Attic
- How to Keep Raccoons Out of Your Yard?
- Where Do Raccoons Go During the Day?
- How to Get Rid of Raccoons Under Deck
- Can Raccoons Climb Walls?
- Will Raccoons Leave on Their Own?
- What Do Raccoons Hate the Most?
How to Figure Out If Raccoons Are the Problem
Before you focus on finding a way to keep raccoons away, you want to make sure that raccoons are actually the problem. While the clearest indicator is spotting a raccoon on or near your property, there’s no guarantee you’ll see one even if they’re living nearby since raccoons are nocturnal.
Instead, you’ll have to use other signs to make sure it’s raccoons. One of the most common is remnants from feeding. Knocked over trash cans, trails or food scraps, spilled pet food dishes, damaged bird feeds, and similar indicators could be evidence of raccoons.
You may also see raccoon tracks. While they’re similar to possum tracks, raccoon tracks tend to move in a diagonal pattern, not unlike deer tracks. Their rear heels are also longer.
As for raccoon droppings, those are typically cylindrical. The ends might be broken or rounded, and while they’re typically dark in color, the shade may vary depending on diet. In some cases, you may spot bits of garbage in the droppings.
Are Raccoons Dangerous?
Raccoons may look cute and cuddly, but they are potentially dangerous to people and household pets. If they’re cornered, raccoons are surprisingly ferocious and can cause notable harm with their teeth and claws. The same goes for raccoons protecting their young.
Like any wild animal, raccoons can also carry disease. Rabies is just one of the potential risks. There are also other diseases and multiple parasites that raccoons can potentially transmit to people and household pets.
How to Keep Raccoons Away from Your Deck, Shed, and House?
1. Remove Food and Water Sources
Generally speaking, if you’re trying to figure out how to keep raccoons away from your property, ridding it of food and water sources is your best starting point. Raccoons typically prefer to den in locations near drinkable water. If there isn’t any nearby, your home, deck, or shed becomes a less attractive option.
Similarly, if food isn’t readily accessible, raccoons won’t spend as much time on your property. Securing garbage cans, fencing off gardens, and using deterrents that make food sources less appealing all encourage raccoons to go elsewhere.
2. Bright LightsAs nocturnal animals, raccoons don’t take kindly to bright lights. If you have a raccoon issue on your property, illuminating as much of the space as possible could help. Along with installing brighter bulbs in existing fixtures, adding new lighting to brighten up dark spots in your yard can work.
Similarly, motion-activated spotlights are a solid choice. Along with making your property brighter, they kick on without warning, potentially startling the raccoons and causing them to flee.
Focus on spots where raccoons may want to visit. For instance, you may want to have a motion light near your outdoor garbage cans or other potential food sources.
3. Spicy PeppersIf you’re looking for a natural raccoon deterrent, hot peppers are a solid choice. Raccoons have sensitive noses, so certain strong smells are inherently unappealing. Plus, the peppers are irritants. While they won’t cause long-term harm, peppers irritate the nasal passages, causing discomfort.
You have several choices to incorporate spicy peppers into your plan. If you have a food garden, planting jalapenos or a similar spicy pepper along the perimeter may make it a less appealing food source.
You can also use spicy peppers to create a spray by cutting them up and allowing them to soak in vinegar. Sprinkling cayenne pepper in areas you want raccoons to steer clear of can also work well.
Just be aware that the sprays and dried spices won’t stay in place forever. Instead, you’ll need to respray or sprinkle regularly, particularly if it rains.
4. Ammonia or Vinegar SprayLike spicy peppers, the smell of vinegar or ammonia is highly unpleasant to raccoons. By having the scent throughout the parts of your property that they frequent, you can encourage the raccoons to head elsewhere.
With ammonia, you may want to fill dishes and position those throughout your yard. You could also try ammonia-soaked rags, though you’ll want to make sure they’re secured, or the raccoons may simply move them away from the area to make your property more comfortable for them.
With vinegar, you can make a spray. Generally, a half vinegar, half water mix will do the trick. For a little extra oomph, you could even add some garlic oil or spicy peppers to the mix.
If you’re using vinegar spray, you need to spray with caution. Vinegar can wilt or damage many plants. Since that’s the case, limit your spraying to structures, mulch, or other areas where there isn’t plant growth that you want to protect.
5. Ultrasonic Raccoon RepellentAnother device-based solution, ultrasonic raccoon repellents, emit frequencies that raccoons don’t like, causing them to leave to get away from the noise. However, the sound is undetectable to people.
Generally, this is considered a safe option because it does no physical harm. Just be aware that other animals – including pets – may feel the same about it as the raccoons, so you may want to find another option if you have a dog, cat, or other pet.
6. Used Cat LitterIf you have a cat, placing used cat litter around your property may work. It lets the raccoons know that a predator is nearby, making your home seem unsafe and encouraging them to head elsewhere.
With cat litter, you want to focus on spots near the source of the issue. For instance, if you have raccoons heading under your deck, placing cat litter around the parameter or at entry points could make a difference.
Just be aware that you shouldn’t place used cat litter near good gardens. That isn’t always safe, so it’s better to use this approach for raccoons under decks, sheds, or homes.
7. MothballsMothballs are another item with a very strong odor. If you’re dealing with a raccoon in an attic, placing them near the entry point may encourage the raccoon to leave.
Remember that mothballs are potentially toxic to people, household pets, and other animals. As a result, you don’t want to leave them in a place where the fumes may build up too much or where they might be eaten.
8. Blood MealIf you’re trying to figure out how to keep raccoons away from a garden, a blood meal might be your best bet. Blood meal can act as a fertilizer and is safe to use in many food gardens. But the scent of blood meal makes animals like raccoons think that danger is lurking nearby.
Since blood meal makes your property seem unsafe, it encourages raccoons to steer clear. Just be aware that it can wash away if it rains. You’ll want to be ready to reapply regularly, ensuring the scent stays in your garden.
It’s also important to note that dogs may enjoy the scent of blood meal and could roll around in it as a result. If you have a dog, it may be best to use an alternative solution.
9. Motion-Activated SprayersMotion-activated sprayers are designed to scare animals away without causing actual harm. When the device detects a raccoon (or another critter) nearby, it’ll send out a spurt of water. It may also emit noise, depending on the brand and model.
The goal is to startle the raccoon with the sudden spray. By doing so, your property seems unsafe, making it less appealing as a den sight or part of a path between two other places the raccoon frequents.
When it comes to figuring out how to keep raccoons away from your deck, shed, or home, owning a dog can be a solution. Essentially, you have a predator in your yard and living on your property. Dogs are a threat to raccoons, so the raccoons may decide that leaving your home alone is the right choice.
However, getting a dog solely to deal with a raccoon problem isn’t a good idea. Dogs are a big responsibility, so you shouldn’t head in this direction unless you’re prepared to give the dog a great home.
11. Trap and RelocateIf deterrents aren’t doing the trick, you may need to trap and relocate the raccoons. Often, you’ll want humane cage traps. For entry points, a single-door trap can do the trick. If you’re putting it on travel paths or in your yard, you may want to go with a two-door version instead.
When it comes to the bait, cat food, whole eggs, fresh fruit, and canned fish are reasonable places to start. Place the bait in a spot that ensures the raccoon hits the pressure plate, carefully set the trap, and check it twice a day to see if you’ve captured the raccoon.
If you’re dealing with a raccoon in an attic, in a crawlspace, or under your home, shed, or deck, you may need to check the den for babies after catching an adult raccoon. That way, you can relocate them with the mother.
After catching the raccoon:
- Handle the trap carefully.
- Wear thick gloves and cover the trap with a heavy blanket.
- Make sure your fingers don’t end up inside the cage.
Once the raccoon is ready to move, you’ll need to head at least five miles away and choose a spot with everything the raccoon needs. Usually, that means a wooded area near a water source, with dense shrubs or fallen trees. When you open the door, stay out of the path of the raccoon and let it exit the trap on its own. Again, that helps you avoid injury.
It’s important to note that trapping and relocating raccoons isn’t allowed in certain jurisdictions, mainly due to the rabies risk. Research local laws regarding raccoon trapping before beginning or contact a professional to ensure the task is handled in accordance with regulations in your city, county, or state.
What Scent Will Keep Raccoons Away?
Spicy peppers, vinegar, and ammonia may encourage raccoons to leave simply because of the smell. Blood meal also exudes a scent that raccoons find worrying.
There are a few other smells that can do the trick, too. Garlic isn’t appealing to raccoons, which can be a great option. Peppermint oil is another scent that raccoons don’t like, though it’s also unpleasant to other animals, including some household pets.
You could also use predator urine sprays. Along with the unpleasant odor, it makes your property seem unsafe. It isn’t a nice smell to people and some pets either.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Attic
Generally speaking, raccoons that end up in attics are typically female. Usually, they are looking for a place to nest and have babies, and attics seem like secure, private places to raccoons.
In most cases, your best bet for raccoons in the attic is a trap and relocate. Once the raccoons are caught and removed from the attic, you’ll need to find the entry point and seal it. It’s also wise to explore all potential entry points, going the extra mile to seal gaps. Often, hardwire mesh is a solid option.
After you seal up the holes, you’ll need to make sure that any food and water sources are removed and any bedding. That way, your attic is less appealing.
How to Keep Raccoons Out of Your Yard?
In most cases, raccoons that make a habit of visiting your yard are simply passing through or looking for food. You may be able to tell which is the case by looking for signs of whether the raccoons are spending time in your yard.
For example, a developing trail without signs of digging or other food-seeking activity may mean that your yard is simply part of a path. If that’s the case, determine where they are entering and exiting your property as a starting point. Then, you can choose the appropriate deterrent to make the path less appealing.
Precisely what that will involve depends on the path itself. It could be as simple as fixing holes in fencing and using scent-based deterrents, motion-sensing sprayers, motion-activated lights, or similar options. However, if your yard is large and isn’t fenced, wider use of deterrents might be necessary, or you may need to try a catch and release to keep the raccoons away.
If the raccoons are stopping for food, then you need to begin by removing food sources. Securing garbage cans and moving pet food dishes is usually the best place to start. However, if they’re digging in the dirt for insects, a large dispersal of deterrents that won’t harm your yard might be necessary. You may also need specialty pest control treatments to deal with ground-dwelling insects.
Where Do Raccoons Go During the Day?
As nocturnal animals, raccoons typically head to a den and sleep during the day. Dens can be in a variety of locations. Hollow trees and fallen logs are common in the wild, though some raccoons are fine with merely some dense brush, particularly if it’s near water.
However, raccoons aren’t going to commute out of urban areas just to sleep. If raccoons live in a city or suburb, they may build dens in attics, under decks, and beneath houses. Dumpsters and storm drains may also serve as dens.
While most raccoons are resting during the day, that doesn’t mean you’ll never see one out and about in the daylight. Nursing raccoons might have to trek out of the den to get extra food since they’re caring for babies. In some cases, raccoons learn that a particular food source is only available at a specific time, so they make a special trip regardless of the time of day.
In rare cases, a raccoon out during the day is a sign of illness. If the raccoon is exhibiting other odd behavior, it’s best to contact a professional regarding the situation.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons Under Deck
If you have raccoons under your deck, how you proceed may depend on the features of your deck. If your deck is tall and the underside is wide open, simple deterrents like motion-activated lights and scents may do the trick.
For decks close to the ground, you may need to start with a trap and relocate. Like attics, female raccoons may find that space appealing for having babies. Make sure you get all of the raccoons out first. Then, clean out the space, close up entry points, and use natural deterrents to make the space less appealing, reducing the odds of future returns.
Can Raccoons Climb Walls?
Raccoons are incredibly adept climbers. Aside from highly slick surfaces – like glass – they can typically make their way up walls. Whether your exterior is wood, brick, stone, or various kinds of siding, it’s likely scalable by a raccoon. Additionally, raccoons can climb downspouts without much of an issue.
The raccoons are such solid climbers because the claws on their paws are incredibly strong. They can use them to dig into various materials, letting them scale walls with surprising ease.
Additionally, raccoons can fall quite far without injury. Some estimates suggest a 35-to-40-foot fall isn’t likely to harm a raccoon, and some may be able to survive falls of greater distances. Since that’s the case, raccoons aren’t particularly concerned about climbing a one- or two-story home, as it’s typically well within their safe fall distance.
Will Raccoons Leave on Their Own?
Usually, a raccoon will not leave a reliable den location on its own without an outside force encouraging them to head elsewhere. Without the use of deterrents, the raccoon will continue viewing the den as safe and secure. As a result, it won’t abandon a den that’s doing its job.
Similarly, if you aren’t taking steps to keep raccoons away from your yard after finding something appealing about it, they’ll continue to return. You’ll either need to remove the appealing trait – such as the viable food source – or use deterrents to convince them to head elsewhere.
Otherwise, you’ll want to go with a trap and release. With this, you’re physically removing them from the premises, which can be a complicated venture. However, if you’re worried about how to keep raccoons away, it may be a necessity if the raccoon isn’t interested in leaving on its own, even with deterrents in place.
What Do Raccoons Hate the Most?
If you’re trying to figure out how to keep raccoons away, turning to things that raccoons typically hate is a smart approach. On the scent side, raccoons often despise hot peppers. Along with being a strong scent, it’s an irritant. While it won’t cause lasting harm, peppers are uncomfortable to raccoons, making your property far less appealing.
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