Raccoons, like most animals, go where the food is, and your home is likely to offer them a variety of opportunities to feast. Once raccoons have discovered that your home or garden offers a variety of foods, they are going to want to stick around. There are a number of things that you can do to make it less enticing to a raccoon and to deter them from hanging around once they have discovered food available nearby.
Raccoons are nocturnal animals and will do most of their foraging at night. It is unlikely that you will encounter one near your home in the daytime, but it can happen. If you see a raccoon hanging around your home, don’t feed it. You may think it is cute, but it is not healthy for you or the raccoon to have it become accustomed to being fed by you. Raccoons can carry diseases, such as rabies. In addition, if you feed it, the raccoon may lose its natural fear of humans to some degree, putting the raccoon as well as the human and household pets at risk. A dog or cat that a raccoon perceives as a threat could be bitten or scratched by a raccoon. Raccoons can become aggressive when protecting their territory or their kits, so it is best to avoid contact with them altogether.
Keeping Raccoons Away From Your Garbage
One way to prevent raccoons from coming around your home and deciding to move in is to keep the lids on your trashcans closed tightly so that raccoons won’t be attracted by the smell. Raccoons can knock over trashcans and get into them, so use heavy-duty cans. You can also get cans with special lids that attach more securely so that the raccoons can’t access them. Don’t put your cans out early in the week because the smell of the garbage will intensify as the garbage sits, particularly in warm weather. If raccoons get into your trash, they will most likely keep coming back for more treats. If they start to hang around, they may look for a way to enter your home to be close to a reliable food source.
Keeping Raccoons From Eating Your Pet Food
Another way to prevent your home from becoming enticing to a raccoon is to avoid leaving pet food out where a raccoon has access to it. If you feed a cat or dog outdoors, feed only at specific times and remove the uneaten food. If you leave the food out by a doghouse or on a porch and a raccoon finds it, it will keep coming back to get more food. Raccoons are quite clever, and they won’t easily forget about an easily accessible source of food. Your pets will adapt to being fed at regular times and won’t miss out on feeding time, and you won’t be feeding unexpected strays.
Preventing Raccoons From Entering Your Home
If you have a pet door, it is possible for a raccoon to come through the door and enter your home. To prevent a raccoon, or any other wild animal from entering through the pet door, ideally you should close off the pet door. However, if your circumstances necessitate a pet door, get an electronic one that will only open for a pet wearing an electronic collar that signals the door to open. This will prevent unwelcome raccoons from coming through the pet door and being trapped inside your home.
Keeping Raccoons Out Of Your Garden
If you have a vegetable garden, this is another potential food source for raccoons. You can try fencing in your garden and putting chicken wire at the top of the fencing so that raccoons will not attempt to climb over the fence. You can also make the garden less enticing to raccoons by sprinkling cayenne pepper along the perimeters of the garden. Pepper is a natural repellant for raccoons; it won’t harm the raccoon or your vegetables, but it will discourage the raccoon from coming closer. When it smells the pepper, it will leave the garden area and search elsewhere for food. You will need to repeat the sprinkling regularly until the raccoon decides to stay away.
Raccoons are also repelled by the scent of ammonia. If you have seen a raccoon hanging around, fill a spray bottle with ammonia and spray it around the perimeters of your yard and home, focusing on the areas where you have seen the raccoon. Re-spray every couple of days to keep the ammonia odor fresh and to deter the raccoon from coming back. After a few times of returning and finding the ammonia scent, the raccoon may give up on your yard and find a more suitable area to forage in.
Keeping Raccoons Away From Your Fruit Trees
If you have fruit trees, clean up fallen fruit regularly. A raccoon that finds fresh fruit lying around will be enticed to return to get more, and fruit trees provide a lot of fallen fruit. If the raccoon is attracted by the fruit of your trees, when the tree is no longer bearing fruit, the raccoon may come closer to your home in search of food. Cleaning up the fruit as it falls will prevent the raccoon from honing in on your home and deciding to stick around.
Using Light And Sound Deterrents To Repel Raccoons
Another way to make your home less comfortable for a raccoon to visit is to set up motion detector lights around the perimeters of your yard and your home. These are relatively expensive but quite effective. If a raccoon comes near, the bright lights will come on and startle the raccoon, making it quickly run off. You can also use motion sensor sprinklers in the same way. When the raccoon comes close enough to trigger the sensor, the sprinkler will come on and scare it away. After a few encounters with the lights or sprinklers, the raccoon will stop returning.
Sound can also be used as a deterrent to prevent raccoons from becoming comfortable around your home. Set up a radio in an area where you have seen the raccoons, and play it for several nights. The raccoon will be intimidated by the human sounds and will go in search of a more hospitable environment. After a few nights of the unwelcome noise, the raccoon may stop coming around.
A Note On Natural Repellents
It’s important to remember that while these natural repellents do at times work, often they are useless. This may mean that you’ll need to trap and remove a particularly pesky coon. If this is the route you decide to take you can get live traps from garden centers and safely remove the animal many miles away to a state piece of forest.