Wondering about how to keep raccoons off your roof? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. Even if these nuisance animals didn’t carry disease or cause significant property damage, raccoons would still cause homeowners considerable trouble and annoyance, thanks to their ability to break into garbage bins and scatter trash everywhere in search of a meal. Thanks to the mess they make, the extensive damage they are capable of and their potential for spreading disease, raccoons are an unwelcome presence for almost any homeowner.
While hiring a pest control professional is the most effective and time-efficient method of keeping these critters off your roof, there are a few do-it-yourself tricks you can try before calling in the big guns:
- Trim the trees around your home so the raccoons don’t have an easy pathway from your surrounding trees to your roof.
- Keep vines and other plants that are growing up your home’s exterior short so raccoons can’t use them as a type of ladder.
- Eliminate any food sources surrounding your home that could lead a raccoon to believe that your property is a good place to stick around.
- Place metal sheeting around your roof, as well as around the base of the trees around your property, making it difficult for raccoons to climb up them.
- Install electric fencing on top of any fence that is close to your roof.
- Keep garbage bins stored inside your garage and pet food containers inside your home.
Why is it so difficult to control raccoons on your own? These nocturnal mammals with distinctive facial markings that make them look like masked bandits are highly intelligent, hard-working, opportunistic and adaptable animals. They are capable of breaking through many types of barriers that people put into place in an effort to keep them out. Raccoons also possess excellent climbing skills that enable them to be on the ground one moment and shimmying quickly up to your roof or chimney the next. Even worse, raccoons are one of the most common species of wildlife to carry rabies, which makes them a real threat to domesticated pets. They can also spread raccoon roundworm and leptospirosis to humans and other animals through soil they’ve infected with their feces.
The best way to know what approach to take to keep raccoons off your property is by learning more about these pesky animals. Let’s go into more detail about what these animals can do to your home, what might encourage them to take up residence near (or in) yours, how to confirm it’s raccoons and not another animal causing your headaches and, perhaps most importantly, what you can do to address a raccoon problem.
Raccoon Damage To Your Home
Many homeowners have had to deal with significant raccoon damage to some part of their home, garage or property. These wily, active animals are a true nuisance: They scavenge for food in garbage bins, spreading trash around as they go; they decimate gardens, especially fruits and vegetables intended for human consumption and they might destroy an otherwise healthy lawn as they dig for grub worms. Sometimes, raccoons have even been known to kill chickens or destroy birds’ nests in pursuit of a tasty meal.
Even worse than all of that, though, raccoons can cause serious damage to your home if they move into your attic, chimney or eaves. These are all common den sites for raccoons, especially female raccoons that are looking for a place to have babies. These animals might wreck walls, insulation or electrical wiring with their biting, scratching, tearing and chewing behaviors. Their urine and feces can also seep through drywall, insulation or siding, creating contamination and damage that can lower your property value and be very costly to fix. Raccoons have even been known to rip shingles off or tear holes in the roof in search of shelter, causing damage that can cost many thousands of dollars to repair.
If you seem to be the only one on the block getting terrorized by these creatures, you may be wondering why they chose you over anybody else.
What Attracts Raccoons To Your Yard?
When it comes to what attracts raccoons to your yard or property, think in terms of food sources, shelter and ease of access to both.
First, food: What do raccoons like to eat? Do raccoons eat cats? Unfortunately, the answer is raccoons will eat nearly anything and everything. Raccoons are natural scavengers whose diets are even more varied than ours, since they eat everything humans do, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, eggs and grains, plus they will also happily consume small animals like birds, snakes, frogs and squirrels, not to mention dead animals, pet food and, of course, trash. There have even been reports of raccoons climbing up trees and stealing all the food out of bird feeders.
Thus, homeowners who are seeking to keep raccoons away from their home and property need to cut off these animals’ access to anything they might consider food. Some simple measures include keeping your garbage and recycling bins behind closed and locked doors, such as inside your garage or an outdoor shed. You should also bring pet food bowls inside at night, or simply feed your pets indoors (and store their food indoors as well).
Are you planting with compost? Or have a fruit or vegetable garden? Unfortunately, raccoons will be attracted to these potential food sources as well. Plus, even if you keep your waste bins faithfully locked away six nights a week, raccoons can still access them that seventh night when you roll them out to the street for pickup in the morning. Again, these animals are intelligent and wily, and they have been known to break into even closed, well-constructed trash bins with tight-fitting lids. The best bins for garbage are those specifically designed to be animal-proof.
As with other pest animals, shelter is another primary concern for raccoons. Common entry points for raccoons include uncapped chimneys, as well as broken vents and other holes in the roof, eaves or attic. Any holes or gaps in these areas should be repaired or sealed off, and chimneys should have metal caps or mesh covers installed to keep raccoons and other animals out.
If you haven’t seen a raccoon but there has been suspicious activity around your home, such as garbage strewn about, what are some signs you should look out for that a raccoon has moved in?
Signs Of Raccoons Living On Your Property
These are some of the common signs of raccoons either living somewhere on your property or making a habit of scavenging around your property for food:
- Trash from garbage bins strewn around your driveway or yard.
- Garbage or recycling bins with bite or scratch marks around the lids.
- Garden beds with homegrown fruits and vegetables that are damaged and eaten shortly before harvest.
- Raccoon tracks around your yard or other areas of your property. The shape of their prints is similar to that of a small human hand, just two to three inches long, with sharp, pointed claws at the tips of each finger.
- Holes in your lawn or portions of grass that have been torn or dug up (although this could be evidence of skunks or some other type of nuisance animal).
- Scratching or bumping sounds coming from inside the walls, ceiling or some other area of your home, attic or garage; this could indicate the presence of raccoons or some other rodent or wild animal that has built a den.
Whether you’re experiencing signs of a raccoon outside of your home or within your walls, it’s crucial to take action as quickly as possible, as they are a liability to your home and your health.
How To Get Rid Of Raccoons
Getting rid of raccoons once they’ve moved in isn’t a simple or easy process. These animals can be territorial and will fight to stay in the nest they’ve worked to build. Homeowners wondering how to get rid of raccoons might have already tried many of the DIY methods for keeping raccoons away, and found that nothing has worked so far.
The best method for getting rid of raccoons is a combination of closing off access points to food and shelter, and removing anything from your property that might be attracting raccoons—namely, food sources like garbage, compost or homegrown produce. Garbage cans with lids that clamp or snap shut are safer from raccoons than other types. Bird feeders and other animal food bowls left outdoors also attract raccoons, so those will need to be brought in at night.
Some homeowners have found success with driving raccoons from their nests using strong-smelling products like vinegar or ammonia, along with bright lights and noisy radios, all of which can repel these animals. Some of these methods can be dangerous, however, especially if you have to climb up to your roof, chimney or attic to implement them, or if you wind up facing a raccoon down. Most raccoon dens are built by mothers looking for a place to raise babies for the roughly two months it takes for young raccoons to wean off their mothers’ milk; consequently, the adult raccoons can become very territorial, hostile and even aggressive when confronted.
In many cases, getting rid of raccoons is best left up to professional wildlife control specialists, especially if you already have a raccoon family that has built a nest and taken up residence on your property.
ABC Can Take Care Of Your Raccoon Problems
If you have a raccoon problem, or any other type of pest control issue, the professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services can help. We are experts in rodent and wildlife control. If you believe you have an uninvited guest in your home, one of our experienced inspectors can come make a thorough inspection and recommend next steps for resolving your issue. Our rodent and wildlife control specialists use humane techniques for getting rid of these creatures whenever possible, such as trapping wild animals and relocating them far from your property. We also close off access points and take other measures to prevent future visits from these uninvited guests, so you can have reassurance and peace of mind knowing your home is no longer a haven for these animal intruders.