If you have a raccoon problem, getting rid of the critters depends on where they’ve invaded. You’ll need a different technique to get rid of outdoor raccoons as opposed to indoor ones, so the first step to banishing them is figuring out where they’re coming from.
Raccoons might seem cute, and while they’re fun to observe from a distance, they can be incredibly destructive both inside and outside of your home. If you’ve never dealt with a raccoon problem before, you may have no idea where to start on how to get rid of these pests for good.
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How to spot a raccoon problem
The first step to getting rid of raccoons is making sure you’re dealing with raccoons in the first place.
Here are a few tell-tale signs that you’ve got a raccoon problem.
Raccoon feeding signs
Raccoons might be smart, sneaky animals, but they sure do leave a mess after eating. If you’re noticing knocked-over garbage cans, trash around your lawn, broken bird feeders, and unusual lawn damage, you may have a raccoon problem.
Raccoons can make loud noises at night when they’re most active. Noises you may hear if you have raccoons include mewing, whistling, and growling. You may even hear scratching or thumping sounds if the raccoons are inside your house.
One of the easiest ways to confirm you have a raccoon problem is to look for tracks. Raccoon tracks have five “fingers” and a “palm” that looks more like a human handprint than your pets’ tracks.
Keep a lookout for these tracks around your home if you’re suspicious of a raccoon problem.
The damage raccoon problems cause
Raccoon infestations aren’t just annoying—they can also cause serious damage to your home, both inside and outside.
Here are the most common ways raccoons cause damage.
Raccoons love finding cozy spaces to burrow, especially if it’s wintertime or your unwelcome guest is a raccoon mama-to-be.
While finding shelter in your walls or attic, raccoons will chew through your insulation and even make a nest in it.
Insulation isn’t the only thing raccoons will chew through. If your electrical wiring is in the way of their nest-making, raccoons will chew through your wiring.
Exposed wiring can lead to electrical fires, putting your family and home at risk.
Raccoons stop at nothing when infesting your home or yard. They dig up gardens, damage your roof, siding, or deck, and leave garbage on your property.
These messes can cost you thousands of dollars to fix. Even less serious messes like knocked-over garbage cans are annoying to clean every day and can pose hazards to pets and young children.
They spread disease
Raccoons can do a serious number on your property, but did you know they can seriously impact your health?
Raccoons carry serious diseases like rabies and roundworm infections, which have the potential to significantly impact your and your pets’ health.
Raccoon infestations inside your home can negatively impact air quality due to their nests and rotting food left around, only adding to potential health complications from your raccoon problem.
The best ways to get rid of raccoons
There are safe and humane ways to get rid of raccoons on your property. The methods you should use depend on what area of your home the raccoons have settled into.
Here are the best ways to banish raccoons from your property, depending on the problem area.
Raccoons in your yard
- Invest in motion-activated light, sound, or sprinkler systems. Unexpected light, sound, or water in the middle of the night will scare raccoons off, deterring them from entering your yard
- Hang bird feeders on metal poles or as high as possible. Hanging feeders in out-of-reach areas, like on high branches or unscalable metal poles, removes food sources for raccoons to snack on
- Grub-treat your lawn. Raccoons often dig up yards in search of grubs to eat. Getting your lawn treated by a professional lawn or pest-control service eliminates this food source, encouraging raccoons to go elsewhere
- Install raccoon guards. If you’re continuously finding raccoons in your trees, buy raccoon guards to install at the base of your trees to prevent them from climbing around
Raccoons in your attic
- Set humane raccoon traps. Place food in the cage traps to lure the raccoons in. Once you’ve trapped the raccoons, contact your local humane society to have the raccoons safely relocated
- Seal off your attic. If you have any openings to your attic that the raccoons might be using to get in, seal them off. You can use wire mesh to make raccoon-proof seals
- Check for food or bedding sources. Have a look in your attic for any sources of food or bedding the raccoons might be using for their nest. Remove these sources if you find them to discourage the raccoons from staying
In your chimney or walls
- Hire a pest control service. Raccoon infestations in your chimney or walls can become serious very quickly. A professional can safely remove the pests without causing further damage to your home
Make sure to remove any messes once the raccoons are gone and seal any holes left behind to prevent this kind of infestation in the future.
Under your house or deck
- Use floodlights and scent deterrents. Light up the dark space under your deck or house by using floodlights, which will deter raccoons from nesting there. You can also use natural scent deterrents like vinegar or ammonia to make these spaces unpleasant for the raccoons to nest in
- Use humane traps. If lights and scent deterrents don’t work, lure the raccoons into live traps with food and contact your local humane society for safe relocation once you’ve caught them
Does home insurance cover raccoon infestations?
Typically, home insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by raccoons. This is because infestations are considered preventable sources of damage which the homeowner should monitor as part of general maintenance.
In the case that you can file an insurance claim for pest damage, make sure that the damage exceeds your deductible amount. Otherwise, you’ll be better off in the long run not filing a claim.
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How do I prevent a raccoon problem from happening?
The best way to prevent raccoon problems from happening on your property is by depleting them of food sources and making it difficult for them to get into your yard.
Install raccoon-proof fencing, use garbage cans with strong latches, keep bird feeders out of reach, and grub treat your lawn. Make sure your attic and chimney are sealed to prevent indoor infestations.