What's the Best Raccoon Bait?

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated January 10, 2022
A man pulling out a wheeled dumpster
NickyLloyd/E+ via GettyImages

Outsmart raccoons by using their favorite foods to bait traps

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No matter where you live, whether it’s on the east coast or the west coast, in the city or out in the country, you probably share your general area with raccoons. These animals might look cute if you’ve never actually run across one before. But if you’ve ever had to deal with them rooting through your trash or making noises in your attic, you know they’re anything but.

In addition to being a nuisance, raccoons can be dangerous as they’ve been known to attack humans and pets, plus they’re one of the most common carriers of rabies, a disease that’s fatal if not treated in time.

When you’re being plagued by a raccoon that’s destroying your property, the only effective method of removing them is, well, actually removing them. Trapping raccoons and relocating them is the safest and most humane way of solving your problem. You can always seek assistance from a local wildlife management company if you’re not up to trapping them yourself. 

But if you are, here’s some info you need to know:

  • Raccoons are nocturnal, so you’ll want to set a trap by late afternoon and then clear the area so they don’t catch a whiff of your scent.

  • Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat anything: plants, meat, fruit, paper— nothing’s off-limits.

  • While raccoons will munch on whatever they can find, they do have preferences, with fatty foods and sweets topping their list.

Now that you know more about how these animals operate, use the list below of the best baits for raccoons to help catch these pesky vermin (technically, they’re more closely related to bears than mice, but let’s not split hairs) and send them packing.

#1 Marshmallows

It’s not uncommon for raccoons to raid bird nests and hen houses to find fresh eggs. When you bait with large, fluffy marshmallows, you’ll have raccoons thinking they’ve stumbled upon unguarded eggs. Of course, once they get closer, the sweet fragrance of this confectionary treat will lure them closer.

#2 Whole Egg

Obviously, if eggs are what raccoons hunt for in the wild, they’re also perfect for trapping them. When baiting with eggs, all you need is one fresh, uncooked egg.

#3 Sweet Corn

Though corn is a vegetable (legume, actually), it’s a sweet one, which definitely appeals to raccoons. At the same time, corn doesn’t attract other animals that may be walking around at night, such as cats and skunks, so you’re more likely to snag the right pest.

#4 Watermelon

Watermelon is sweet and fragrant, and its bright red color is something that raccoons can spot from afar,  even at night. And like corn, it’s not a food that other animals will be interested in (well, except flies, but raccoons don’t mind sharing).

#5 Wet Cat Food

Wet cat food is relatively fatty, and it’s also quite pungent, so it’s something that raccoons will notice as soon as they come out. While raccoons can’t resist the smell of cat food, the same goes for other animals—especially, you guessed it, cats. For this reason, it’s best to bait with cat food when your trap is in a more isolated location, such as your attic.

#6 Tuna

Don’t have a cat? You can still appeal to a raccoon’s desire for stinky, fatty food by using canned tuna. As with cat food, this one might attract other creatures, too, so use it carefully.

#7 Bacon

For many people, when you say fatty, fragrant, and irresistible, the first thing that comes to mind is bacon. While not something that raccoons are likely to stumble across in the wild, it would probably be their favorite food if they did. Don’t hesitate to leave the bacon grease out, too, to really have a raccoon licking its chops.

#8 Kitchen Scraps

If raccoons are tearing apart your garbage for their feast, give them what they want—namely, the old food scraps that you’ve been accumulating for the last week. Collect your potato skins, chicken bones, and apple cores in a plastic container or bag for a few days, and then set them out when you’re ready to trap your raccoon.

#9 Honey

If you want to increase the chances that your neighborhood raccoon will go for your bait of choice, whether it be marshmallows, cat food, or bacon, drizzle a little honey over it. Remember, raccoons love sweets, so the double-shot of yumminess might be just what you need to entice them into the trap.

#10 Tin Foil

You might be surprised to see tin foil on a list of the best raccoon baits, but hear us out: Raccoons are very curious creatures. When they see the glistening of a ball of tin foil, they may not be able to resist checking it out. Of course, they’ll learn soon enough that they can’t eat it, but they’ll already be trapped.

More Tips for Catching Raccoons

Raccoons are smart, but you can be smarter. Follow these tips to better your chances of raccoon-trapping success.

  • Think about what the raccoon might want to eat. Try to cater to your raccoon’s normal diet. If you live on a lake, try fish; if the raccoon won’t leave your trash alone, try food scraps.

  • Try baits that won’t attract other animals. You have many choices when it comes to bait, and you may have to cycle through a few before you finally find one that works. However, when testing, try to avoid those that might attract other animals, like cats, skunks, and snakes. You may have to use them eventually, but when you do, keep in mind that you might not wake up to the right animal in the trap.

  • Combine baits for better results. You never know what culinary mood a raccoon might be in, so give them some choice. When baiting with something savory, also throw in something sweet.

  • Place your bait in the right spot inside the trap. It’s not enough to use the right bait. You also have to carefully position it in the trap so that the raccoon doesn’t steal it without getting caught. For one-sided traps, place the bait on the opposite end of the door, but not so close to any side. You don’t want a raccoon to sneak a hand in to grab it. For double-sided traps, place the bait at the center of the trap, under the center of the trap, or hanging from the top of the trap, right over the center mark.

  • Don’t use poison. As tempting as it may be to use poison to deal with an annoying raccoon, it’s essential that you refrain. For starters, it’s cruel. Beyond that, it’s extremely difficult to place poison in places where raccoons will get it but where others, including children and pets, won’t. For the safety of all involved, use a trap or hire a local trapper. You might pay about $300, but the trapper will do all the work, plus help you figure out how to keep raccoons from coming back.

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