What is it about raccoons? On the one hand (or one little hand-like paw!) they’re incredibly fascinating. Yet, on the other, their clever and resourceful ways often get them into trouble. We also unwittingly contribute to their opportunities for mischief. In reality, there’s no such thing as a raccoon infestation. But if you’ve got raccoons or even one raccoon where you don’t want one to be inside your house (attic, chimney, HVAC ducts, crawl space, etc.), you may feel like they’re taking over. But if you have raccoons just ambling through or loafing in your yard, know that that’s not unusual as they are common in urban and suburban areas! If necessary you can encourage them to move on or make your yard a less attractive place to hang out. The first step is to make sure that they are not coming around for the main thing they associate with humans- food!
Are you or your neighbor feeding raccoons?
It may start out small, with just a couple animals being fed, but troubles soon develop as more animals start coming to the handouts. Don’t be that person who feeds raccoons. They do not need help, and the unnatural crowding that occurs is unhealthy for you, your pets, and the raccoons themselves. Even worse, fed raccoons teach their babies to panhandle, and that increases the unnatural and ultimately problematic behaviors. If neighbors are feeding raccoons, try to talk with them in an amicable, calm manner about how their kind-hearted actions will result in the raccoon’s demise, as once other neighbors complain they’ll be trapped and most likely, killed.
Look around for possible raccoon attractants
Look for unintentional temptations, too, and eliminate them. When you reduce the food available in your yard, raccoons will find the areas around your home to be a less inviting place to live.
- Feeding pets or community cats outside– Next to outright feeding of wildlife, this is one of the main causes of attracting wildlife and not just raccoons. Feed pets indoors, or devise a schedule and leftover removal system for feeding outside that decreases the likelihood of attracting native wildlife to take part in the feast. Immediately picking up uneaten food after the animal is finished can have an enormous impact on reducing the number of wild animals who show up for a free meal.
- Trash – Use a metal trashcan with a lid and a bungee cord. Or get an Animal Stopper garbage can (made by
Rubbermaid) which is virtually raccoon-proof and is available in hardware home building stores. On the flip-side, unsecured trash doesn’t just lure raccoons and other wildlife in. It can also pose extreme danger to them. While trying to get a taste of leftover food, raccoons and other animals can get their head stuck in a can or jar. If not removed, they will succumb to dehydration, starvation, or be killed by a predator or oncoming cars.
- Small caged pets outside – Keep animals indoors, if possible, or use sturdy caging with latches or locks and immediately pick up food that may fall through the sides of the cage.
- Outdoor grills – Clean them thoroughly after each use to remove grease remnants
- Sod – Limit watering, especially at night—it brings grubs and worms to the surface, creating a foraging temptation for raccoons and other wildlife.
- Bird feeders –Hang feeders on ½-inch-diameter poles or add stovepipe baffles which prevent climbing up the pole, and the raccoons cannot jump over it if the baffle is placed 4 feet off the ground. Another option is to take them in at night, or fill them with just enough for each day.
- Stored feed – Store feed in metal bins with tightly fitting lids and bungee cords.
- Garden – Discourage foraging in the garden at night by installing a motion-detector sprinkler.