Raccoons, like most animals, will enter areas that are populated by humans in search of food. Once they find some, you will have a hard time getting rid of them. Pet food left outside all day and night will attract raccoons. Garbage in your garbage cans is also enticing to hungry raccoons, and if they can get access to the garbage once, they are likely to return regularly for more. There are a number of things you can do to prevent raccoons from eating your pet food or from getting into your garbage cans.
The best way to prevent a raccoon from eating your pet food is by not leaving the food outdoors. If you frequently leave food out for strays, stop. You might think you are feeding a hungry stray cat, but you could be feeding any number of wild animals, including raccoons. You don’t want raccoons hanging around your home waiting for food, so don’t leave out food for strays that they can access.
If you feed your pets outdoors, limit the amount of time that the food is left sitting out. If you feed your cat or dog at regular times, the animal will become accustomed to the times and not miss out on feeding. Of course, a dog is likely in a dog house, so you can feed the dog, and once he is finished, remove any leftover food. Feed the dog a normal amount of food, but don’t leave extra for later.
Even if you normally leave cat food out so that your cat can come and eat the food on its own schedule, remove the food. Your cat will quickly learn the sounds of you coming to feed it and will show up at feeding time. When the cat has finished its meal, remove any leftover food and take it back inside until it is feeding time again. This will ensure that your cat is eating the food and that it is not being eaten by a hungry raccoon.
Garbage is a smorgasbord for a hungry raccoon, as they are omnivores and will eat a large variety of foods. Once a raccoon discovers your trash, you are in trouble as the raccoon can be relentless in its attempts to get to a food source. Make sure that you put all of your garbage in a can; bags that are left lying out are easy pickings for a raccoon, as well as other animals.
Use heavy-duty garbage bags that will keep the smell of your garbage confined within the bag Raccoons have a good sense of smell and may be enticed by the tantalizing scents within your bags. Also, get a heavy-duty garbage can that cannot be easily tipped over. Raccoons are quite clever and may tip the can over to access the insides. The heavier the can, the less likely it is that a raccoon will be capable of tipping it over.
You might also consider a can that has a latch on the lid to secure it. If the raccoon does knock over the can or climbs on top of it to get inside, the latch will hold the lid securely in place so that the raccoon cannot get to the garbage inside. If you can’t get a can with a locking lid, place something heavy on top of the garbage can lid, such as a cinderblock, that will prevent a raccoon from accessing the bags contained inside of the garbage can.
You should also avoid putting out garbage several days before it is due to be picked up. The longer the garbage sits, the more pungent it will become, which makes it more attractive to a raccoon. This is particularly true during summer months, when one hot day can cause your garbage to wreak, attracting animals from all around. Purchase a larger can for indoors so that you can store your garbage inside where the climate is more controlled and will prevent the garbage from smelling as bad. You should also double bag meat or meat scraps before setting them out, as the smell of rotting meat will be hard for a hungry raccoon to resist.
If all of these attempts to keep a raccoon out of your garbage fail, there is one more thing you can try. Since raccoons are nocturnal, they do most of their foraging for food at night. Install some motion sensors near your trash cans that will turn on a bright light when motion is sensed. If a raccoon comes near your trash, the bright light will come on and startle the raccoon away. After a few nights of attempting to access your garbage and being scared away by the light, the raccoon may seek out a better atmosphere to forage in. There is also the chance that the raccoon will become accustomed to the light and continue to attempt to access your garbage.