How to keep raccoons away from your home


If you know what kind of damage raccoons can cause, it’s no surprise you don’t want them hanging around. It’s not limited to a tipped over trash can from time to time. Female raccoons in search of a nesting site may rip off shingles, fascia boards or rooftop ventilators to get into your attic. Once they are inside, they will tear up insulation, go to the bathroom and bring with them a host of parasites. Then again, they might avoid the attic all together and make themselves at home in your chimney, crawl space or under your deck or porch. And of course, they’ll want a snack which is easy to access from a nearby garden, decorative fish pond, pet food bowl or trash can.

Like I said, the trash can should be the least of your worries if you have a raccoon problem. They cause a lot more problems than going through the trash.

How to determine the size of your problem

Raccoons are nocturnal, so they can be hard to detect. It’s especially important to pay attention to the clues they leave behind and to the frequency and amount in which they are left behind. Here are some things to look for:

  • Evidence of feeding — tipped over trash cans, damage to your garden or fish pond, a spilled or emptied pet food bowl, knocked over bird feeders, a disturbed compost pile.
  • Tracks
  • Droppings

In addition to the evidence they leave behind, you may also able to hear them visiting before you ever see them. No matter what alerts you, once you’re aware you have raccoons hanging around your house, it’s best to try to get rid of them as soon as possible.

How to get rid of raccoons

The availability of food sources in close proximity to potential den sites attracts female raccoons to nest. The presence of food sources is one reason raccoon populations can grow rapidly and become very large in urban and suburban areas. Eliminating food sources is the first step to deter raccoons.

If you live in a densely populated area with a known raccoon problem, it may be beyond the individual homeowner’s control to get rid of the problem. In these, instances a community effort is needed to resolve the problem. This is why early detection is so important.

If the above scenario, isn’t your reality, a few changes can help you manage the raccoon population around your home.

Secure the trash can. Leaving trash out that’s easily accessible is a great way to attract raccoons. When you take your garbage out or if you leave it outside, make sure it’s in a heavy trash can with a secure lid. You might also consider placing cans in a rack or tying them to a secure post and using a bungee cord or piece of wire to keep the lids in place.

Bring in pet food. Pet food that’s put outdoors should be brought in before nightfall to keep raccoons from finding and eating out of your pet’s dish.

Keep an eye on your bird feeders. Whether you use a special feeder, a shepherd’s hook or simply bring your feeders in at night, it’s a good idea to use at least one method to deter raccoons. The birds will appreciate it too!

Pick up fallen fruits and nuts. Yes, raccoons will venture into your yard even for the natural food that falls off the trees. Keeping it cleaned up will make your yard less attractive.

Put a fence around your garden, fish pond, compost pile or newly installed turf. Raccoons will look for food in gardens, fish ponds and compost piles. The best way to keep raccoons out of these areas is by installing an electric fence. Ordinary fences don’t hold up well enough as raccoons will dig under, climb over or find a way through them. However, an ordinary fence can become raccoon-proof by adding a single electrified strand of wire 8 inches above the ground and about 8 inches out from the base of the fence. A pulsating high-voltage, low-amperage fence charger is used to electrify the fence. You might also consider installing a low, two-wire electric fence to exclude raccoons from sweet corn, melons and other garden crops. Fasten two wires on evenly spaced wooden posts — one wire is 6 inches above the ground and the other is 12 inches above the ground. Then activate the fence charger from dusk to dawn. This type of low electric fence can also be installed around a newly laid sod lawn to prevent raccoons from rolling it back in search of insects or grubs. Then it can be removed once the turf has taken root. These fences are also used around decorative ponds to protect koi and goldfish from raccoons.

Never intentionally provide food for raccoons. You shouldn’t try to feed raccoons and you should discourage your neighbors from feeding raccoons. A readily available food source will only attract more raccoons and create and even bigger problem.

Reduce potential nesting sites

Once you’ve gotten rid of readily available food sources, you’ll want to reduce access to potential den sites. Without a place to nest, raccoons won’t be interested in sticking around for very long.

Yard work. You can start eliminating den sites by simply cleaning up your yard. Remove wood piles, thin out overgrown shrubbery, trim tree branches to reduce access to your roof. If you can, try to cut overhanging branches so that there is a 5-foot gap between your roof and the tree. You might also consider getting rid of trellises and arbors that offer easier access to your roof.

Seal off your chimney. Chimneys are a favorite nesting spot of raccoons, which is why it’s a good idea to cover yours with a spark arrester or chimney cap. Make sure the cap is tightly secured upon installation to prevent raccoons from pulling it loose. You also want to make sure there are no animals inside the chimney before covering the opening. If a family of raccoons has already taken up residence, you’ll probably need to hire a professional to remove them.

Seal off other entry points. While chimneys are a favorite, raccoons will find other places to nest in and around your house. Sealing of potential entry points, before they’ve been discovered, is the best way to keep raccoons away. Close off open spaces beneath structures, such as porches, decks and garden and tool sheds, with 10-gauge 1/4- or 1/3-inch galvanized hardware mesh. Then install it so the bottom edge of the wire is buried at least 6 inches deep, extended outward for 12 inches, and then back-covered with soil.

Other methods

Other methods to deter raccoons include using products to repel, scare or trap raccoons. All of these methods have their downfalls. Products intended to scare raccoons will only work until the raccoons realize there’s no threat associated with these devices. While commercial repellents and home remedies have been successful at repelling other forms of wildlife, none have been successful at getting rid of raccoons. Lastly, trapping raccoons can be very dangerous for someone who’s inexperienced. Raccoons are known to carry a wide range of diseases, not only do you risk exposing yourself but if by some miracle you manage to trap a raccoon and release it somewhere else without being exposed, you risk exposing a whole new environment to any potential diseases it may be carrying. It’s probably best to leave trapping to the professionals unless you are prepared to euthanize it yourself.

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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s managing editor. Raised in Portage County, Ohio, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and being outdoors.


  1. What do I do when I can hear the raccoon in the walls of my house.
    How do I get it or them out, I hear it tearing up wood inside the walls.

  2. yea me and my grandson had 2 baby raccoons like chase us man serious scary man like malled they acted like funny scared us to death so I did the football hold land on the flooring then I kiked with my foot to get them out but honest they kept charging back for more

  3. It’s sad when u have to live with these rodents. I reside next door to an abandoned home that’s not boarded up and the roof is falling off. It’s a family of 4 raccoons living there and the city will not help me get rid of them. City of Gary told me to purchase a cage to catch them and drive them to the forest preserve to set them free. I also have a 12 y.o. autistic son that really don’t understand the threat they pose. I am beyond pissed with the matter. Can someone help?

    • Im in a similar situation as you are. 13 racxoons living in house next to me. They keep having babies. My local feed store recommended fox & coyote urine. You put some in little containers on the 4 corners of your property and it lasts about 3 months. Raccoons won’t come near it. At least not in texas. Forget the Cages! They get the food out without setting the trap.

  4. What about chickens? There is no way I’m bringing my out door animals inside. This dang raccoon has already killed 2 of my favorite chickens. I put my 2 of my big dogs outside last night and slept on my couch so I could hear. That dang raccoon came back 2 more times even with 2 BIG dogs!!! Granted, the dogs scared it away, but will it keep coming back? I don’t like sleeping on my couch and waking up every couple of hours to my dogs barking and a raccoon trying to eat my chickens.

    • That is just silly!OF COURSE the raccoon will come back to eat your chickens! Unless you protect them with a proper encasing they are all doomed! Any predator that knows a food source will return.

  5. Good to see your comments “Raccoons, Have a Heart”, as I am on Acreage and have 2 outside cats to control the Rodent problem. So the Live Trap won’t work for me as before. Raccoons, Possums, Skunks tearing up my Lawn, & Gazebo Plants. How did you finally resolve the problem? Need Help!

  6. Raccoons are dangerous animals, carry various diseases & destroys our homes. I don’t understand why it is illegal to kill them. Rats, mice, & other rodents do far less damage to human beings & our homes and it’s okay to kill them. I spent a fortune (8,000) to get rid of raccoons in my attic & they didn’t stay away two years. Now they are in the attic & walls.
    The laws need to be changed regarding the treatment of raccoons & squirrels. If we can legally kill a person in our home without being in- voted, we definitely should be able legally to kill a raccoon(s) attacking us or destroying our home which is very expensive to stop the raccoons. And this is a costly temporary solution.

    • I am covered over with the raccoons. I think my whole subdivision has a problem. My son has trapped and carried off six raccoons and one possum. I STILL have them. They are coming in the door under the back porch that lets me into the mechanism of my hot tub. They are on the back porch at their leisure and ruining everything – – knocking the door apart – turning a tub of chemicals upside down. Trying to pull rugs under the porch. Now that the pandemic is active I am stuck and they are not. Lord, I am sick of these things.
      Please, someone, tell me what to do.

  7. Put 9 lives cat food in a “have a heart” trap once its trapped drive it 25 miles out of the city limits, and release it. They won’t be coming back! That’s the humane thing to do.

  8. I am so grateful for your advice to clean up your yard by getting rid of woodpiles, debris, and branches to help prevent potential den sites for raccoons. My grandma was out on her patio last night reading a book and saw a raccoon in her backyard. I am going to go over to her house now to tell her this tip for the future and suggest she call a rodent control service in Orland Park, IL.

  9. I live in a apartment i hear the racoons walking all night i live up staies and tonight one was on my balcony how to get rid of them living im a apartment

  10. This whole post completely ROCKS! Much thanks to you for all the difficult work you put into it. It truly appears.

  11. I am on Acreage and have 2 outside cats to control the Rodent problem. So the Live Trap won’t work for me as before.

    • I live in a rural area with some acreage and 2 neighbors close by. I have a infestation of raccoons and I am a animal lover and advocate, but these stinky nasty things, who I once thought were cute, have me ready to blow my house up, just to be free of them! They are getting inside my house every night!! They get the lid off my cat food container and eat all my cats food. I stopped leaving food outside to detour them but all that did was make them find a way inside and they are destroying my home!!! Im going to sit up tonight with my gun and wait for them and shoot them dead! Thats where I am at this point. I don’t know what else to do!!! I keep my bedroom door closed and so far that had kept them from coming into my bedroom but they come back all through the night and tear things up every time. I run screaming like a crazy person at them, when I catch them and it runs them off but they come right back. I’m so done with this mess!!!

    • We have a PLETHORA of strays, at least 50 around my house and neighborhood. They do nothing. The raccoons aren’t even scared of them. One night i looked on my camera and they were actually outside eating out of the same damn dish!

  12. Barb Woodson I live in a apartment building on the 3rd floor. and they climb up to my window and on my balcony. What can I do to get rid of them please help

  13. Thanks for mentioning that it’s not a surprise if you don’t want raccoons hanging around your home knowing the damage they can cause. My wife is thinking of looking for a raccoon removal specialist because she saw three of them digging in our trashcans last week. It seems like a good idea to consider hiring a reputable professional that can help us rid our home of unwanted animals so that they don’t damage our home.

  14. I hired someone to remove a raccoon from my attic 10 years ago. I had the chimney and attic damage repaired. She or another raccoon moved back in a couple of years ago. She had babies recently… I heard them chattering the beginning of March. My 8 year old son and I have been staying with my 78 year old mother for 3 months to help her during the Covid quarantine. We came home late tonight and I noticed my laundry room is trashed. There was a plastic vent cover in the ceiling that I never noticed before but is now lying on the floor and there is a wide open square foot hole in my ceiling. I had a bunch of canvas paintings on the walls that have all been knocked down and a laundry basket turned upside down. My guess is a baby fell through and the Mama came down to rescue it. Although, there is no evidence of them entering any other rooms in my house… I’m too scared to sleep but my son is sleeping and we have no other options tonight. I plan to have someone come tomorrow to try to trap them but Good Grief I hope & pray they don’t come back down into my house and hurt us. I’m in bed with my Bogs boots on, two baseball gloves, a can of raid wasp spray and a metal wreath hanger… just in case they are psycho killers. 😱🤣🥴🤦‍♀️ For the Love of God!!!

  15. I live in a large subdivision. I have been visited by 3 young racoons who come by mid morning.
    Ive closed my front door porch which contains cat food for strays but need to know other ways to eliminate young,motherless racoons.

  16. I saw on another site that they hate ammonia smell or Apple cider vinegar and also Irish spring soap!! It says soak a rag in ammonia and put it where you think they are getting in. Good luck everyone. We have caught and relocated 4 in the last 10 days. We live in super small town and they have been getting in trash bags on pick up night.

  17. We caught 2 in a trap.. but could never trap the last one…and of course she had babies. We had 5 traps set. They have finally left my attic and we have a restoration company cutting a hole in our roof to remove the nest and soiled contaminated insulation..roof repair follows…You must remove the nest..they will return.

  18. We are getting them on the metal roof of our shed and pooping up there – major buildup we have found. Smell is awful. Tomorrow we are going to buy a large roll of chicken wire and somehow go up, clean off and spray down the roof and drape the wire up there to make it so they won’t want to walk around up there. Does anyone that might work?

  19. I don’t know about all states, however it is illegal in several to relocate Raccoons. I’m working on removing a pack of them that won’t learn manners. We use to think they were cute but now it’s just random destruction regardless. Mine are brazen enough to be on the porch in broad daylight. Euthanizing them or live with them are your only choices. Get a vermin license and be done with them. “Humane” option don’t work.

  20. I had a coon problem in my attic and hired professionals to get rid of them. The coons made a huge hole in my roof, so much so I had to put up a new roof. The coons also made a hole in the ceiling of my closet, about 2 ft x 3 foot. The professionals I hired caught 6 coons and 1 pregnant coon. Soo, now I have a new roof, I had all the trees/limbs cut away from the house, sealed all the entry holes I could find and I still hear scratching noises in my walls and attic. If ammonia repels them, can I soak some rags and toss them up in the attic??? I’ve spent thousands of dollars and still haven’t got rid of them! At this point I’m praying for it to be rats instead of coons!!
    What can I do??? I don’t want them tearing up my new roof, and I don’t know what I can do to get them to leave my house!!!

  21. We are having problems in Phoenix, Arizona with maybe a few families of raccoons in our pool/spa area. We have a game camera that takes photos when there’s motion. We have tried garlic, amonia, a loud radio playing the election results, the ultrasonic things that blink lights intermittently and tonight will put a tarp over the spa to see what they do. We don’t leave trash out and see no evidence of them..feces, etc…
    I’m also going to put out a motion detector scull from Halloween that yells “I SEE YOU” and lights up it’s blinking lights tonight to see if we see anything. They are drawn to the water in our spa/pool. The camera captures 3-4 going into the spa all at once. We don’t know what else to do? We can only suspect they are going swimming because it’s still almost 90 degrees and we got no rain this summer. Any suggestions?

  22. I have a drain by my home and a stream behind my home. The raccoon used my yard to go from the drain to the woods where the water is what can I do to get rid of this raccoon is there something I can put down the drain or in my yard to deter the raccoon from passing through my yard?

  23. Glad to hear we are not the only ones dealing with these raccoons. They are in our walls. I saw things this morning going in an opening. My husband has to seal it. Now that I hear all of you, I think they caused the leak in our nearly new roof. We caught two in the attic. We don’t know what to do. My Mom said moth balls got rod of hers.

  24. Up here in Canada folks! In Victoria, British Columbia, on the West Coast, just North of Seattle. The raccoons decided that our 83′ x 130′ property was their latrine, and they went under each of the big trees at the front of the property, huge amounts by the chimney breast at the side of the house, and along the fence line at the back about 8 ft both sides of the corner! They started tearing up our lawn, looking for grubs. They even pooped out in the open under a couple of high shrubs .. but when then did 3 large dumps right beside my front doorstep within a week (despite bowls of ammonia nearby) IT WAS WAR !!
    The law here forbids us trapping ourselves – you need a licence, and of course it’s dangerous too… and also forbids relocations – they HAVE to be euthanized, so I hired a Pest Control company and so far from July 13 2020 to Jan 4th 2021, we have caught SEVENTEEN!! Now it’s time for the electric fence I found on Amazon – Patriot Brand Garden Kit – sending for 2 of them at $150 each, and probably buy some extra wire. Meanwhile we will keep the traps out for now! So far we have spent $2,125 CDN, but think we are getting close to the last of them, and got them before the new breeding season too … Money well spent, even though we are Seniors on limited pensions ! SOOOOO happy we haven’t had the attic or roof problems described in other posts!

  25. I have a racoon living in my garage and I’m so scared to go in there what should i do HELP, Redford will nkt help so sad i got a ground hog living in backyard .I feel like I’m living in a forest

  26. None of the articles about raccoons that I have read have been helpful. We have 2 raccoons dragging off and eating our ducks at 2AM every other night. We used to have close to 15 ducks but between the raccoons and the weasel (now dead), we are down to 3. And if it isn’t the ducks, it’s our chickens! We can’t seem to be quick or sneaky enough to catch them in the act and create a pause to shoot them with accuracy. What do we do?

  27. I hired a professional to get rid of some sick fox. $800.00 later, I never caught the fox and ended up catching 7 raccoons. He took them away and did whatever a professional does with them. Last night, I saw an adult raccoon and 2 small raccoons climbing a tree in the woods next to my house. I guess I’ll be calling my professional back.

  28. We hired a professional . Spending $500 for a 30 day contract..charged $100 everytime he came out raccoons caught.. Roof has sevrtal holes. Soffit pulled down.We went to Rural King bought our own traps ..caught our own..killed them

  29. I have tried, mothballs, they played with the bag and it opened and they were knocking them around on my back deck! That’s where they are. I tried ammonia, I tried Irish Spring soap. I just heard a noise around 5:00 am and looked out and there were 5 of them on the porch roof. They climbed down and came by the back glass doors! They’re brazen, not afraid of Anything! My main concern is when my indoor cat sees then she Freaks out! It’s a horrible screaming noise and it’s getting really annoying to say the least! I can’t really go out there in the dark to shoot at them, because there’s too many! I have a BB gun to just scare them but now I don’t really care what happens to them. Which is really not like me!

  30. There are 8 methods to keep raccoons from digging up plants. Method 1: eliminate any food source in your garden. Method 2: get rid of grubs. Method 3: install a motion-activated water sprinkler. Method 4: use bright lights and radio in your garden at night. Method 5: plant herbs that they dislike. Method 6: create homemade repellent. Method 7: install a chicken wire fence. Method 8: install an electric wire fencen.

  31. A bear got our “Squirrel proof bird feeder” and tore into a metal screen on our compost box. Birds like the worms in my chemical free lawn. I have to be satisfied about that.


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