Why Get Rid of Raccoons?
Despite their innocent looking, cute little faces, raccoons actually have quite a reputation for being mischievous and destructive. Raccoons often knock down trash cans and uproot gardens and sod in search of a meal. Raccoons may also carry and transmit diseases such as rabies or roundworm. Raccoons are capable of becoming aggressive and biting humans or other animals when they are rabid or feel threatened.
There are 4 Steps to getting rid of raccoon pests. When it comes to getting rid of raccoons, there is no magic spray or repellent. These chemicals and other products like sound devices are really just gimmicks. The only proven way to get rid of a raccoon is through preventing access, limiting food sources, and trapping and removal.
Step 1) Prevent Access
It is a little known fact that adult raccoons can fit through an opening as small as 3" to 4" in diameter. To prevent access, you should inspect the home or structure for all possible openings, and then seal them off. The most common entrance to a home for raccoons is down the chimney, or else through a window by way of the roof. Methods of preventing access include:
- Trim trees and other shrubbery away from the house and roof
- Secure a cap of sheet metal over the chimney outlet
- Repair openings or holes in the home with heavy wire cloth or wood secured into solid substrate with screws
- Electric fences may keep raccoons out of lawn and garden
Important Note: If you suspect a female raccoon or her litter may still be trapped inside your home, seal all entry points but one. This one existing opening will serve as an exit through which you can wait for the raccoon or raccoons to leave the structure before sealing it off. If you seal off ALL openings while a raccoon still exists inside, it may become trapped where you are unable to get to it and proceed to starve to death, resulting in a foul-smelling carcass. If there is a litter trapped inside and you seal the mother out, the litter will die and the mother will be inhumanely kept from her young. Be sure there are no raccoons left inside the structure before sealing off the last opening.
Step 2) Limit Food Sources
Raccoons are not going to stick around long or make your home their home unless there are enough food sources to sustain them. To limit or eliminate food sources:
- Keep all trash in metal cans or bins with tight fitting lids
- Regularly splash the outer sides and lids of metals cans with ammonia, since raccoons are repelled by this scent and it also covers up food smells
- Weight trash can lids with something heavy like a brick to keep raccoons from removing the lid
- When throwing away meat or other foods with a strong odor, double-bag them to reduce smells
- Elminate as many sources of water as possible in your hard and near your home
- Regularly clean up fallen fruit such as berries in your garden
- If possible, cover garden crops with a cage of wire netting.
- Don't leave pet food out at night
Step 3) Bait and Trap
One of the safest and most effective traps for raccoon capture is the Havahart Cage Trap Model 1079. Havahart recommends contacting the Humane Society, or the local or state game commission before setting a trap to determine the lawful method of releasing a captured wild or nuisance animal. Many species are protected by law in various states. Follow these guidelines when trapping with Havahart:
- Read the instructions completely and contact the manufacturer or a pest control professional if you have any questions about its operation.
- Test the trap. Spring it a few times by touching the trip plate to make sure that it works properly. If you feel the doors do not work fast enough, placing a small stone on top of the door will cause it to drop faster.
- Bait the trap. The following are good bait suggestions for raccoons: fresh or canned fish, honey or sugar covered vegetables, watermelon, sweet corn, cooked fatty meat, crisp bacon, marshmallow.
- Camouflage the trap by placing twigs or leaves all over it to reduce the glare of the metal. You can also slather mud on the metal to give it a more conditioned look.
- Place the baited trap, without setting it, where you intend to catch the raccoon and fasten the doors open with a stick or wire. Do not set the trap at this point
- Set the trap. After several days, if the bait has been disturbed or taken, it is time to refresh the bait and set the trap.
Other Trapping Tips:
- Be aware of weather conditions. Trapped animals should not be left out in the elements as they can die from prolonged exposure to heat and cold.
- Check traps FREQUENTLY. Wild animals stress easily and may seriously injure themselves as they attempt to escape.
- Other animals besides the target animal may get caught in the trap. If this happens, advice on releasing it safely can be obtained from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your state.
- Depending on the time of year, you may trap a nursing mother and if you relocate only her, her babies will not survive. To see if you've trapped a nursing female, stand the trap on one end to observe the belly.
- Traps should be washed, disinfected with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts of water and let it remain on for 20 minutes), and thoroughly rinsed after each capture to stop the spread of any potential disease. Animals frequently defecate and urinate when captured and it is unhealthy to put bait down unless trap is cleaned thoroughly.
Step 4) Release and Removal
Once you have successfully trapped your raccoon, it is time to call the Humane Society or the local or state game commission to either direct or assist you in releasing the animal. This is important because raccoons are very aggressive animals and an inexperienced homeowner is likely to be attacked or bitten if attempting to release the raccoon without explicit direction and/or assistance from a trained wildlife professional.
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