Are Raccoons Pests? How Do I Repel Them From My Yard and Property?

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Raccoons are intelligent and fascinating creatures, but when unwelcome, they can bring a lot of problems to your property as any pests can. There are a wide variety of ways to keep raccoons away from your home and prevent them from coming in the first place.

In the rest of the article, we’re going to learn why raccoons are considered pests and how to deal with them if they start visiting your property, both before and after the fact.

Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests?

The degree to which raccoons are pests is not often well understood and subject to controversy, but generally speaking, you are better off without raccoons visiting your property.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which raccoons can be pests as well as some of the misconceptions around their interactions with human settlements.

Do Raccoons Steal Things?

Raccoons are infamous for stealing all sorts of things from people. This is not limited to food. Raccoons will also steal items that are shiny, for example.

It is not completely understood what draws raccoons to items that they have no immediate use for, but the behavior is incredibly common among the critters.

Raccoon burrows have been uncovered filled with all sorts of random items. The overarching theme will tend to be that they are pretty to look at, usually because they are shiny.

It is possible that the raccoons steal these items to use as decorations, or it could be simply that they stand out to them in the light, drawing their attention to them.

Will Raccoons Poop In Your Yard?

Raccoons are unlikely to poop in your yard because they will only do so in places where they feel safe. If you do have a raccoon pooping in your yard, this is bad news for you, because it means that there is more to come.

Not only will raccoons return to your yard to poop again because they have already determined that it is a safe place to do so, but you may also find other raccoons coming to poop in your yard for the same reason.

Unless you want a new career in poop removal, it is important to create deterrents to raccoons as soon as you begin noticing this.

Will Raccoons Try To Get Into Your House?

If your house contains anything that a raccoon might be interested in, it will try to enter. Sources of water are common draws to raccoons entering your house, including leaky taps or pet water bowls. Your pet’s food bowl is another thing that may catch a raccoon’s attention and convince them to get into your house.

It is important to adapt to these situations appropriately. If the weather is very dry, for example, and there is little drinkable water outside, it is best to keep your pets’ water bowls out of sight of windows or glass doors.

With any kind of food, it is always advisable to keep it out of sight and out of smelling range if you have raccoons in your area.

Can Raccoons Damage Houses?

Although raccoons are not naturally destructive animals, they can cause damage to your house as a byproduct of their efforts to get in and through it.

The most common damage in houses from raccoons is to wood and wire, which they might chew through or otherwise destroy to get through. Raccoons may also knock over and break fragile items while moving through your house.

Are Raccoons Aggressive To People, Pets, and Livestock?

Raccoons are not aggressive to people or animals that are not their natural prey in the truest sense, but they will fight ferociously if they feel they need to defend themselves.

If a raccoon feels threatened, cornered, or if it is protecting its young, it will exhibit what appears to be aggressive behavior, but this is strictly defensive, and you can easily remove yourself from the situation.

You need to be aware of raccoons that may be infected with the rabies virus. Rabid raccoons may attack unprovoked, and this may lead to the need for medical attention if you get bitten. Signs to look out for in rabid raccoons include staggering, apparent oblivion to their surroundings, matted fur, and discharge around the eyes and mouth.

Do Raccoons Eat Cats?

Although raccoons are omnivores with an incredibly broad diet, they are not likely to eat your cat. If a raccoon is hungry, it is not inconceivable that it may eat kittens if they are easily available, but cats are generally not considered to be prey by raccoons, so this would only happen in extreme circumstances.

Cats can often find themselves being victims of raccoon attacks if a fight ensues. If your cat has a very strong personality and does not back down, the raccoon will engage in a defensive fight, and unfortunately for your furry friend, the raccoon will probably win due to its superior size and strength.

What Should I Do If I See A Raccoon On My Property?

If you see raccoons on your property, do not panic. These animals are not aggressive by their nature, so you are not at immediate risk of harm, and neither are your pets as long as they don’t confront them.

With that said, raccoons can bring a lot of problems with them, so if you start noticing them on your land, it would be wise to take measures to reduce their presence.

The very first step in doing this would be removing items that might be attracting them to your property in the first place. Let’s look at some below.

What Might Be Attracting Raccoons To My Yard?

The biggest thing that might be attracting raccoons to your yard is food, with secondary considerations for water and other items that the animals may find useful, including shiny objects and shelter material, or indeed entire shelters, like sheds.

Although this probably doesn’t sound very appetizing to you, perhaps the most common “food” that might be attracting raccoons to your yard is your garbage.

Not for nothing are these mischievous little critters called “trash pandas.” If you have anything even remotely edible in your trash cans, raccoons will smell it out and attempt to get it.

How Do Raccoons Break-In?

Raccoons have multiple ways of getting into places that they are not meant to be. The most impressive method is by using their nimble front paws to operate door handles and window latches, but there are much more low-tech methods that they use. Let’s look at some of these.

Can Raccoons Get Through Chicken Wire?

Chicken wire will not keep a raccoon out for very long. Between their extremely dexterous hands, their sharp teeth, and their strong jaws, a raccoon can make an opening in chicken wire big enough for the animal to get itself through in very little time. If you rely on chicken wire to keep raccoons out, you will be very quickly disappointed.

Chicken wire is mostly made for keeping chickens inside an enclosure and not for keeping predators out. The raccoon will simply try and rip through the thin wire in order to make a hole bigger. And even if they can’t get their bodies through the wire, they’re known for dragging parts of the chicken through it bit by bit.

A good tip to keep your chickens safe would be to use a tougher kind of wire, like a hardware cloth instead of chicken wire.

Raccoons can easily get their hands through chicken wire.

Can Raccoons Scratch Through Walls?

Raccoons can scratch through walls, but the good news for you is that this is not a common tactic for them.

Usually, if a raccoon is scratching through your walls, it is because they are stuck and trying to get through. If you get to this stage, however, you may have them living in your walls, so swift intervention is desirable.

How Do you Know You Have Raccoons in Your Walls?

Raccoons like small, safe, dark places in which to build their nests, and the space between your walls is a perfect spot for them. A perfect spot for them, but not so much for you!

The sound of raccoons scratching inside your walls can be scary, and at the very least is annoying. Raccoons sleep during the day and only come out at night, so if they’re in your walls you’re likely to only hear them at night.

How do you know if you’re hearing raccoons and not squirrels or mice? Raccoons are mostly nocturnal, so hearing them at night is a good tip. They’re bigger and heavier than mice and squirrels as well, so they’ll be louder and heavier.

The biggest giveaway is the sounds they make, though. They make a wide variety of noises like chattering, growling, and crying sounds. Baby raccoons make a chattering cry that is very distinctive, and they tend to be very noisy.

Do Raccoons Climb Walls?

Raccoons are very good climbers and have been often spotted climbing walls. Not only can they climb many types of surfaces, but they will also go to extreme heights – literally – to get to that open door or window if they want to enter a house. Don’t rely on height as a defense against raccoons entering.

Will Raccoons Break Windows?

Although raccoons possess all of the intelligence, strength, and dexterity to break a window, this behavior is not common for raccoons. The damage that raccoons cause when entering homes is incidental rather than intentional.

Raccoons prefer to enter via windows by using the latches or handles to let themselves in rather than simply destroying them. It is not known whether raccoons are even aware that glass is easily destructible or whether they perceive it simply as a solid barrier.

Can Raccoons Get Through Small Holes?

Raccoons can get through holes as small as 4 inches wide. The size of the hole that a raccoon can get through ultimately depends on the size of the raccoon itself, with younger ones faring better.

You can estimate how big a hole any given raccoon can get through by looking at the size of its head. If the skull of the critter can potentially fit through the hole, then so can the rest of it. The reason for this is that most of a raccoon’s apparent volume is fluff rather than fat, as often incorrectly assumed.

Do Raccoons Live Inside Walls?

Raccoons, like all animals, seek shelter to live in and care for their young. The spaces between your walls are safe from both predators and the environment and are small and dark, just like raccoons prefer.

Due to the scavenging behavior of raccoons as well as the diseases that their poop can carry, having a family of raccoons, as cute as they are, in your walls is not a sustainable scenario.

Can Raccoons Lift Heavy Obstacles?

Raccoons are known for their incredible strength relative to their size and will be able to move heavy obstacles out of the way or off of lids to get to what they are after.

There are even suggestions that a raccoon can lift more than its own body weight!

Can Raccoons Open Doors?

Raccoons can open doors, windows, lids, jars, and pretty much anything that a human child can.

The reason for this is the way that their front paws are structured. Raccoons have long, dexterous fingers and opposable thumbs, which makes their front paws far more similar to human hands than, for example, your cat or dog’s paw.

Raccoons are also intelligent and have a good memory. This means that the little bandits can watch how you open your door and learn what to do, even if it involved something more complicated than simply twisting the handle.

How Do You Keep Raccoons Away From Your Property?

The best way to deal with a raccoon infestation is to not let it get that far in the first place. Let’s look at some different types of repellants that you can use to keep raccoons away from your property.

Can You Repel Raccoons With Sounds?

Raccoons are naturally rather skittish, so you can get them to leave with loud and sudden sounds. If you are present, you can make the sound yourself, as can your dog.

If your visitors come at night, motion-activated speakers (link to amazon) can work as a great raccoon repellant, as long as they don’t get used to them before they fully move on.

Can You Repel Raccoons With Smells?

Raccoons have very powerful noses, so you can use this against them by repelling them with smells that they don’t like. Hot peppers, onion, garlic, peppermint, cinnamon, black pepper, and Epsom salt are all common smells that will get rid of raccoons.

If you want to approach this with more finesse and don’t mind the smell yourself, urine from predators is an even more powerful repellant. Check out this coyote urine on Amazon.

Can You Repel Raccoons With Dogs or Pets?

Using pets, especially dogs, to repel raccoons is controversial. While the loud barks of a dog will scare raccoons away, you may also open your four legged friend up to injury.

Raccoons are fierce fighters when they feel threatened, and if your pet gets too close, they may walk away from a scuffle with some pretty nasty injuries.

Can You Repel Raccoons With Visual Things Like Scarecrows?

Raccoons will naturally want to avoid their predators, so leaving scarecrows out may get you some results.

The reason this is not a long-term solution is that raccoons are intelligent enough to eventually realize that the scarecrow is inanimate due to their never moving. Furthermore, very urbanized raccoons may be less put off from the beginning due to how used they are to humans.

One way to implement this solution is to get a set of fake owls and move them around frequently. Raccoons will avoid real owls, and by moving them around, you slow down the critters’ ability to figure out that they’re not real.

How Can You Get Rid of Raccoons That Burrow In Your Walls, Attic, or Crawl Spaces?

If you find that you have raccoons nesting in your walls, you’ll most likely want to get rid of them. While raccoons don’t usually scratch through into a house, if they’re trapped they could resort to that.

Aside from that, they can cause costly damage to your walls, electrical wiring, and crawlspaces. They can be vicious, and they are carriers of diseases like rabies. It’s a good idea to get rid of them.

The first thing to do is to check your home for openings like cracks in the siding, holes, and unused chimneys. Before you think about stopping up any holes it’s important to get the raccoons out first. You can buy some traps and set them out around your house. (Like this one.)

If you’re not comfortable dealing with the raccoons yourself it’s a good idea to call an expert. An expert can locate where the raccoons are as well as how they’re getting in. The expert is trained to remove unwanted guests from your house without damage to your house or to the raccoons.

How Can I Secure My House, Yard, and Chicken Coop From Raccoons?

Raccoons are clever and nimble, but they are neither all-knowing nor all-powerful, so to secure areas that you don’t want raccoons to enter, you just need to understand their limitations and incorporate them. Let’s look at some ways that you can do that below.

How Can I Keep My Chickens Safe From Raccoons?

Chicken wire in itself isn’t much of a barrier for a raccoon, so to properly keep your poultry safe from predators, you’ll need a bit more.

While reinforcing the enclosure where your chickens live is an obvious thing to do, you also need to consider other things.

  • Are there any other food sources on your property that might attract the raccoons and make them want to hang around, such as cat food, a vegetable garden, a bird feeder, or something similar? You need to consider getting all of this out of reach.
  • Your trash needs to be thoroughly secured, so the raccoons can’t get to it.
  • Consider putting up motion-triggered lights, a radio, or other things that might make it uncomfortable for the raccoon to hang around.

And then you need to thoroughly secure your chicken coop. Instead of using ordinary chicken wire, consider using hardware cloth with a smaller mesh size, like 1/4 inch. This mesh size makes it impossible for the raccoon to get anything through the holes, and the wire itself is much stronger than ordinary chicken wire.

Hardware cloth is too tough for a raccoon to break through

You also need to extend the wire downwards at least by 2 feet, so that the raccoon can’t dig its way in. And the complete enclosure needs to be covered overhead as well since raccoons are good climbers.

Finally, you need to make sure that any hen-house or built structure in relation to your chicken coop is well-made and solid. Raccoons have been known to rip out wooden panels complete with nails, so you’re better off using screws. And make sure that everything is well maintained and that no wood starts to rut or becomes fragile.

Can Raccoons Get Into Locked Trash?

Latches and handles may be easy for a raccoon to get through, but if you keep your trash locked in such a way that requires a key to open and said key exists only on your family’s keyrings, the raccoon will be out of luck.

Since trash is one of the biggest raccoon magnets, this is a good strategy to keep them away.

Can Raccoons Get Into Locked Food Storage Areas?

While raccoons are very dexterous and sneaky, they’re not smart enough to figure out how to open a door, cupboard, or padlock with a key.

If the key is already in the said door, however, it might be another story.

A raccoon will most likely see a locked door or cupboard as a solid obstacle that cannot be opened just like that, so unless there are any holes, easily detachable walls or sides, or other “weak parts”, a raccoon probably won’t get into locked spaces.

Can Raccoons Climb Slippery Materials?

As amazing climbers as raccoons are, they need the right material to grip on to, and if it is too slippery, they will not be able to climb it. If you have a smooth, metal fence that your visitors are frequently climbing, you can try lubricating it with something to make it too difficult.

Similarly, if you have problems with raccoons climbing your walls, consider using a smooth kind of cladding, like metal sheeting or something similar, which will prevent raccoons from being able to climb the wall.

Are Raccoons Good For Something?

As common as it is to hear about raccoon “infestations” or general reference to them as pests, they don’t have to be all negative. Depending on your needs, wants, and personality, you might find it beneficial to have the masked little bandits running around your lands.

Do Raccoons Keep Rats Away?

Raccoons do naturally prey on rats and other rodents, so if you have raccoons on your property, they will keep your rodent population in check.

You can view this as an added bonus to otherwise relatively benign raccoons, but it is inadvisable to attract raccoons to your yard just to get rid of rats. The raccoons can end up being a far more serious infestation.

Are Raccoons Good Company?

Raccoons are kept as pets by certain people, and they are sought after for the same in many places. While they can potentially be good company, it is a very bad idea to attempt to tame a wild raccoon.

They are not domesticated animals and will act like the wild animals they are. But if they don’t bring you problems, they can be cute to look at.

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