I have to admit: My problems with raccoons are an occasional occurrence. However, when they do show up, they cause a lot of damage and sometimes they don’t want to leave. I’ve found raccoons in the attic, under my deck, and in my trash cans. I also lost a wonderful crop of sweet corn.
Raccoons might be cute, but they’re bad news in your house, yard and garden.
Raccoons are nocturnal animals. That means they only come out at night. If you ever see a raccoon on a bright, sunny afternoon — beware. That’s a sure-fire symptom of rabies and it will make them both fearless and aggressive. Treatment for rabies involves numerous injections into your abdomen. That’s not my idea of how I want to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Quite often, you’ll see a family of raccoons moving together at night. The brood usually consists of three to four pups with mom. Like many mammals, the female can be highly aggressive if she feels her pups are threatened. Raccoons also will become aggressive if cornered.
By the way, raccoons seem to prefer unfished attic crawl spaces. It gives them more places to hide and a warm, exposed blanket of insulation. Those types of crawl spaces also tend to be easier for them to access.
Raccoons often travel on foot, but also are excellent climbers. They’ll use a tree to get to your roof and attic or to escape a predator. Their front paws are highly adapted and they can hold food in their front paws. Corn seems to be a primary target in a garden, but they’ll nibble on anything if it’s something they like.
I’m a bit concerned about harsh chemical deterrents sold in many stores. As a result, I’ve looked for and found some natural solutions.
1. Light at night
Nocturnal animals usually don’t like to be in the light at night, although some raccoons can grow accustomed to it if they are permanent occupants. One solution: blinking Christmas tree lights strung around the garden. The blinking seems to be something they always will hate. Of course, this one works best if your garden is a bit remote, but why can’t you have Christmas in July?
2. Coyote urine
It comes in a spray bottle and can be found at some home centers and on the Internet. You spray it around an area to repel most animals in nature. There is a problem, though. While coyote urine will repel most animals, including raccoons, it also will attract coyotes anxious to mark their territory.
Buy the smallest bottle you can so that you only do one application until the bottle is empty. When I first came across the stuff at a garden center, I noticed a caution on the label: “Refrigerate after opening.” I’ve got a funny feeling that my wife would have had more than a few opinions after finding half a jug of coyote urine in the fridge.
3. Hot sauce and garlic
This doesn’t offer much of a solution in your attic or under the deck because the scent alone is not that strong to deter a raccoon, but it works wonderfully when applied to an ear of sweet corn. A raccoon must use its teeth and paws to get past the husk; that level of interaction with hot sauce and garlic is enough to send them to someone else’s garden. Because the solution is applied externally to the husks, you don’t have to worry too much about the ear of corn picking up the flavor, but give it a good rinse anyway.
Combine 10 cloves of crushed garlic with a cup of cheap hot sauce and a pint of vinegar. Put it in a spray bottle and spray the developing ears of corn.
4. Human hair
This approach is used to repel a variety of animals from yard and garden, but it’s an ideal solution to repel raccoons from your attic and under your deck. It doesn’t involve the use of foul-smelling natural solutions like coyote urine or some of those hot sauce and garlic cocktails. Who wants coyote urine in their attic? Your local barber shop can help if you don’t have hair cuttings at home.
5. ‘Lock’ your trash
The solution is a bungee cord with hooks on either end. Attach one end to one of the handles on the can and stretch it over the lid and attach the other end to the other handle. Test the lid, and if you have trouble lifting the lid with the bungees attached, a raccoon will find it impossible.
6. Live animal traps
This was the solution I finally used to get the raccoon out of my attic. I had called a company that does this kind of thing, but I was shocked by the price. A live animal trap was one-third as much, so I figured I’d give it a go before paying through the nose. It worked, and the handle on top keeps your fingers and hand well out of reach as you transport the animal to a remote and wild area for release. If you find other raccoons in the attic after doing this (especially pups), then capture and release them in the same spot where you released the original captured raccoon. Momma raccoon will appreciate that, and so will the pups.
How do you keep raccoons off your property? Share your thoughts in the section below: