How to Get Rid of Raccoons

The best way to get rid of raccoons is remove food and block paths to temptation. Here’s how.

If raccoons can't get into your house, they'll often get into your trash. Image: Alexa Clark/Flickr

Although raccoons look cute and cuddly, these home pests are the most-reported wildlife species with rabies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Besides scattering garbage on lawns at night, they’re brazen enough to find their way into your home in search of food — either yours or your pet’s. 

Raccoons enter through open doors, windows, and pet doors; they also squeeze through vents and baseball-sized holes in walls and soffits.

And if they can’t get inside, these skillful bandits are going to raid your trash.

Simple ways to raccoon proof your home

  • Seal trash in metal, locking garbage cans. Forget plastic cans that raccoons can chew through. For extra protection, place a cinderblock on top of each can, and wait until the night before pickup to place your trash outdoors. If raccoons have you at wit’s end, try a bear-proof trash bin. A 50-gal.-capacity bin with wheels is about $265.
  • If raccoons still invade your trash cans, build a shed you can padlock, or enclose trash cans within a wire fence with a roof.
  • Inspect your chimney and if necessary, seal it with a chimney cap ($50-$150) that allows smoke to escape but blocks animals from entering.
  • At least twice a year and after big storms, inspect your house for holes in your soffits, foundation, roof, and siding. Reinstall loose soffit panels with concrete screws and sealant. Fill foundation holes with cement.
  • Install heavy-duty steel screens over outdoor vents.
  • Fix holes in screened porches and keep doors latched.
  • Never keep dog or cat food in bowls or bags outside.
  • Avoid hanging corncobs for squirrels, because they attract raccoons, too.
  • Put screening around the bottom of low decks, where raccoons take refuge from rain and heat.

Do you need a pro raccoon eviction?

When you hear the pitter-patter of attic pests overhead, you won’t know if you’re hosting one raccoon or an entire family. This makes trapping and evicting a challenge for amateurs.

Most towns have wildlife regulations that prohibit you from relocating the raccoon, which means if you catch it, you’ll have to kill it, and few home owners have the stomach for that.

It’s better to call a professional. Many counties have animal control officers who will trap and dispose of raccoons for free.

Or, call a professional pest management company that will get rid of raccoons ($350-$600, depending on number), and inspect your home to discover points of entry and other raccoon lures.