The Homeowner's Guide to Getting Rid of Raccoons

Annie Sisk
Written by Annie Sisk
Updated March 24, 2022
A raccoon sitting at a wooden deck
Photo: Anne Wright Dobbelsteyn / EyeEm / EyeEm / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Raccoons can do a lot of damage to your home and yard.

  • They prefer hidden spots like attics, chimneys and sheds.

  • Racoons are most active in the spring during mating season.

  • Hiring a professional to remove raccoons will cost an average of $400–$600.

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Raccoons might look like cute masked bandits, but they can cause some serious damage to your home and property. They can even transmit ticks, fleas, and serious diseases that can sicken both you and your pets. However, you also want to get rid of your raccoon “guests” humanely. Here’s how to eliminate your raccoon problem by removing the furry little invaders, not harming them. 

Confirm You Have a Racoon Issue

If you’re not sure whether you have a raccoon problem in the first place, take a slow walk around your property and give it a close visual inspection. Look for evidence that raccoons leave behind such as trash cans that have been knocked over, garbage spilled on the ground, or damaged or emptied bird feeders. 

Pay close attention to the ground immediately adjacent to your home’s exterior to look for raccoon tracks. They’ll look something like possum tracks but smaller. Their front feet leave tracks that are three inches wide, while rear feet tracks are about four inches long. 

Keep in mind that raccoons are seeking warm, protected areas that will help them keep their litters safe from predators and weather. If they’ve gained entry into some part of your home, such as your attic, you may also hear the unmistakable rustling, scratching, and scurrying sounds they make as they tear at your installation and ductwork trying to make their nests.

Think Like a Raccoon

Raccoons are particularly—ahem—”active” during their springtime mating season. That also means that they’ll be focused on delivering and protecting their new offspring. Those baby raccoons will quickly become adult-sized raccoons, so time is of the essence in locating and removing them. 

During mating season, raccoons will be looking for decent hiding spots for their babies. The ideal safe spaces for a raccoon are sheltered spots that are easy for them to navigate but difficult for bigger animals to access. So you can expect to have to look carefully for their nests. Particularly favored spaces around your home might include gardening sheds, underneath porches and decks, inside attics, and within chimneys.

Check Your Property for Ingress Points

While you’re looking for their hiding spots around your property, check carefully for any open space that might seem particularly inviting to a raccoon as a way inside. Look for broken skirting or lattice work around your deck or porch, any signs of dug-out burrows next to your home’s foundation, and any gaps or open areas in your attic or basement. 

A raccoon can wiggle into some pretty tight areas, so if you see any area that looks disturbed, make a note to check it out. If you find a potential ingress point, you’ll want to close it up once you’re sure the raccoons have left the premises. 

Remove What’s Attractive to Raccoons

A man trimming tree branches with a hand saw
Photo: redstallion / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Raccoons like tree limbs and branches that help them slip unnoticed into your attic. Keep trees near your home trimmed and cut back to remove those access paths. Also, make sure that you’ve adequately covered and protected any outside garbage receptacles. Finally, consider moving pet food containers and dishes inside to remove the raccoon’s access to a free 24-hour buffet.

Add What’s Repellent to Them

While many animal control experts question their effectiveness, there are commercially available  products that promise to repel raccoons from your property safely. It might be worth a try, but just be aware that mother raccoons with recently born offspring might be a bit more determined—and thus less likely to be deterred by any repellent product. 

Hire a Professional to Remove Raccoons Humanely

The most direct and efficient way to rid your home of raccoons in a humane and hopefully permanent way is to hire a professional animal removal service. This service will send out an expert to trap adult animals and then remove any baby raccoons manually. Once the area is clear, the raccoons will be relocated into a more appropriate, less populated area. Finally, the expert will help you shore up your defenses and close up the potential pathways into your home. 

The cost of professional animal removal and relocation varies, depending on a number of factors, including where you’re located, how much damage the raccoons did to your property, and the repairs or upgrades required to keep them out in the future. On average, you’ll pay anywhere from $400 to $600

Why DIY Raccoon Removal Isn’t A Great Idea

Raccoons can do a lot of damage both while they’re on your property and definitely when they’re being removed. Many states protect them legally, which means hunting and trapping them requires a license. The best way to proceed is by hiring a professional animal removal company that’s licensed, insured, and bonded, preferably a company with extensive raccoon removal experience in your state and area.

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