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Household Pests > Raccoons
We recently bought a house that has new sod in the
backyard. Some surly neighborhood raccoon (or 2?) comes
every night and pulls back the corner of the sod to dig
for worms or something. It also poops. We try staking the
sod down so it won't come up but it just finds other
corners to pull up. The grass is starting to die. Any tips
for discouraging raccoons from coming in our yard? Once my
husband caught it with the hose and once I sprinkeled red
pepper in the area generously, but it's still coming round.
Hi - we dealt with this same problem a few years when we had our lawn
installed. I would suggest a two-pronged approach. The first is, believe it or
not, coyote urine. You can get it at Ace Garden/hardware and probably other
places also. You soak little cotton-ball like things in it and place them around
your lawn. Supposedly the raccoons smell it and stay away. It did seem to work
pretty well. Where it didn't work, I took a piece of chicken wire and landscape
staples and used the staples to hold the chicken wire down over the sod. PUsh
them down so that the chicken wire is really flat against the dirt. That worked
great - they could not pull the sod up. Years later it is still there and the grass
just grew up around it and we can't see it at all. Good luck!
Hi, I discovered Organicbugspray, that worked with rats and raccoons . What I
like about it is that it is not a harmful chemical but the raccoons don't like it.
Especially if they are in your garbage or garden.I ordered some at
Organicbugspray.blogspot.com or if your local you can email for it.
I used it for aphids and it ended up deterring the raccoons.
The best way to deter raccoons from being where you don't
want them is so simple: get a radio- old funky one that you
don't care about- tune in a talk radio station like public
radio/NPR, and put it where ever the raccoons are hanging
out. The volume can be very low, does not have to be loud at
all. The raccoons will avoid the area, they think people are
there. Usually this technique is used when they are nesting
under a house, in the walls, or attic- not sure if it will
be as effective where they are foraging, but it is worth a try!
humane pest controler
We had the same problem when we moved into a new house with
new sod. Every night the sod would be rolled up by the
raccoons. The only thing we found that worked, was to buy
rolls of chicken wire fencing. Every night, we would lay
out it out and stake it down. Yes, it was a total pain to
do...but we only had to do it for a couple weeks until the
sod had taken root enough to stay put.
Eventually Smarter Than A Raccoon
We had the same problem and were able to stop the raccoons
from rolling up our grass by covering the whole lawn area
with black plastic bird netting. Leave the netting in
place until the sod takes root & then you can take it off.
I think we left it on for about four weeks.
stopped those rollin' raccoons
A neighbor of mine used motion controlled sprayers, I think from Ace on San
Pablo, and that seemed to deter the raccoons. Also, I just saw in the Contra
Costa Times (August 7) a piece about pests in the garden and they gave an e-
mail address for one of their columnists, Gary Bogue. If you write to him, he'll
send you a 7 page document on controlling raccoons. E-mail:
Our friends ended up covering their entire newly-sodded
lawn with that netting you put over trees to keep the birds
from eating the fruit, staked down well around the edges.
This allowed the sod to root so that when they eventually
removed the netting, the raccoons couldn't just peel up the
sod anymore. Might be worth a try.
Given up on grass, myself
We just moved into our house in Piedmont and we've had frequent
visits from raccoons which live in the neighborhood. They roll
up our newly laid sod and look for ''food''. Anyone has
experience in getting rid of them? What can I do to the new
sod to keep it down?
Wow -- for two years the raccoons came into our water garden and
trashed everything. Just made a complete mess (even when we had
We tried everything!
1) Chasing the raccoons with brooms & rakes
(they'd amble away & return in an hour)
2) Squirting 'em with water (the daddy raccoon climbed a tree
and licked his privates and occasionally looked down at us)
3) Bowls of red-hot Jamacian habenero pepper sauce (all four
bowls were emptied the next morning)
4) Catching 'em in a Havahart trap using an egg as bait. (Next
morning you have a snarling, stinking, angry raccoon in a cage,
and no place to take it ... the rangers in Tilden Park will give
you ticket if you take 'em up to the hills! Or worse - a baby
raccoon gets caught the trap, and it crys all night for its
mother. Meanwhile mama raccoon paces around the cage, making
heartbreaking weeble sounds.) Despite this, we caught (and
moved) over a dozen raccoons in 2 months.
We finally put a high voltage wire around the water garden. It
goes on at dark, off in the morning. Every few months a family
of raccoons comes by, get stung, and tells its family to stay out
of the pond. Now, they just dig up our vegetable garden. *sigh*
Learning to accomodate 'em
Two options I used several years ago when racoons were pulling up our
new sod. Go to Grand Lake Ace Garden store in Piedmont and get
some coyote urine - yep - you read right. Follow the directions using the
stuff around the perimeter of your yard. I also, in a couple of really bad
places, laid a piece of chicken wire over the sod, pinned it into the
ground with those giant hairpin-like pins used for landscape fabric. The
racoons could not pull the sod up and in a very short time the grass
completely enveloped the wire and it is not visible. Good luck!
We had the same problem when we put down sod. We ended up putting chicken
wire over the ends they would roll back and staking the wire down until roots were
established. The grass got water and survived just fine.
Hope that helps
We recently laid rolled sod in our small backyard so the kids
would have somewhere to play. Unfortunately, some animal(s)
has been coming at night and unrolling the sod--different
pieces every night--and it is ultimately going to damage the
sod as parts of it have been unable to take root. We called
vector control and they said that we should spray an unscented
dish washer soap on the lawn to help reduce the grubs in the
sod, which is probably what the animals are after. It isn't
working, and we are very frustrated with this persistent
problem. Any advice?
Raccoons are digging up your sod. Go to the hardware store and
buy a ''Scarecrow'' - it's a contraption with a motion detector
that you attach to your hose facing the area being dug. Turn
the water on at dusk and any time the scarecrow detects motion
overnight it will create a sudden jet of water in an arc (you
set the width of the arc)and scare the critters away. It
works! I have a gardening biz and have used this several times
for raccoons digging up sod (a common problem). You should make
sure, however, that you have a fairly durable hose.
We had this problem last year, when a raccoon would roll up our newly laid sod
night. We tried several ''all natural'' products (garlic spray, coyote urine,
etc.), all of
which were a complete waste of time and money, and smelled so bad that they kept
us out of the backyard! The raccoon did so much damage that part of the lawn had
to be re-sodded. At the recommendation of the man who laid the sod, we bought a
couple of large pieces of bird netting (fine, plastic netting intended for
over a garden to keep the birds away). We rolled it out over the grass and tacked
down with pieces of wire hangers pushed into the sod/dirt. Although it was not
much fun to roll up and later re-position each time we wanted to use the yard, it
definitely did the trick. We left it on every night for a couple of months, after
the sod had rooted and the raccoon apparently could no longer roll it up. The
raccoon later raided our garden, but I put the netting over our vegetables for a
or so and it eventually stopped visiting us.
Good luck! I know how frustrating this can be
We had this problem in spades several years ago and tried
*everything*. The only thing that worked was to buy this
plastic netting stuff - similar to deer netting, but stronger.
The stuff we bought was basically a grid design, with the spaces
about 3/4 of an inch or so apart. You roll it out on the lawn,
then secure it with those arched metal things that you use to
hold down landscaping cloth. We left ours on until the sod had
Been there/Done that
We had the same problems when we layed sod. It was raccoons
that were rolling it up. My husband solved the problem by
buying some green chicken wire rolls at home depot (perhaps it
was originally for fencing?) and staking it down flat over the
ground with tent pegs. At first I was against the plan because
I thought it would look horrible, but you actually couldn't see
it against the grass. The only pain was that we had to roll up
the wire again everytime we mowed but that was a small price to
pay. It totally worked and it was only necessary until the sod
Raccoons and new sod... ah, yes. Let me tell you my story.
First, upon the advice of the landscaper who'd just laid down a
big back yard's worth of new sod, we sprinkled the area
liberally with mothballs. Next morning, all over the yard the
ends of our beautiful, expensive, sod squares are turned neatly
up. Were we too stingy with the mothballs? We go to Ace
Hardware, buy out their entire mothball supply. Plaster the yard
with the smelly marbles. Listen carefully for the raccoons from
our bedroom. What do we hear? A whole passel of the varmints,
snickering and playing ping-pong with the mothballs before
finally getting down to the business of pulling back the sod and
digging up the grubs. They seemed to enjoy the
challenge, 'cause they pulled up much more of the sod than
We'd always thought the raccoons were cute, but, you know, like
teenagers: ill-behaved and a little pesky. After the mothball
incident, though, we realized we were faced with a formidable,
tenacious, albeit cute, foe.
So back to the hardware store to buy a Scarecrow, a device that
attaches to a hose, and sprays water in an arc around the yard
when its motion sensor is triggered. That worked pretty well
for a couple of nights. But then, the varmints figured out that
the sprayer paused for 8 seconds before spraying again, so the
next night we heard a lot of giggling and snorting while those
brats put their heads down to avoid the spray, then scrambled to
get their digging done before putting their heads for the next
The raccoons by now had my full respect and admiration - they'd
make fantastic show business agents, I thought - but I still
wanted to save my new grass, so I decided to play dirty: bought
a back yard's worth of chicken wire, and rolled it out over the
new sod. Pinned it into place with metal hoops that I think are
used when planting tomatoes.
Those boys tried and tried to get up that chicken wire, but were
finally stymied. After a few days of determined effort, they
abandoned my yard, and my lovely grass was able to take root and
I pulled up the chicken wire after the grass seemed secure,
although in a few places the grass had grown over the wire, and
I just left it.
Best of luck, and don't worry: you WILL win in the end!
We recently had a new (sod) lawn put in our back yard. The racoons are having the time
of their life pulling back the sod and eatting I-don't-know-what every single night for
weeks now. It isn't helping the lawn at all. Someone suggested a chemical repellent,
but that doesn't sound too good for our dog or toddler. Has anyone else had the problem
and how did you solve it? Thank you. Ferences
First, I sprinkled tons of cayenne pepper around the edges of the lawn.
Worked a little, but not good if you have small children. Then we sprinkled
about 12 boxes of moth balls around the edges of our lawn. We also have set
up two 500 watt flood lights. It helps somewhat, they aren't doing as much
damage (although I did see a raccoon sitting in the middle of the yard last
night about 10pm). I'm afraid the moth balls might be killing the lawn
however - can't tell if the brown edges are from the moth balls or from
previous raccoon damage. Can't find the sonar device on the web that was
mentioned in the archived lists. Wondering if it would hurt our cats? Same
with the traps - we have two cats ourselves plus many more in the
neighborhood. I'd hate to trap a kitty. Guys at the hardware store
recommended motion controlled sprinklers. Don't know where to find them. I
think the are expensive. (I must admit I feel better knowing other people
have this problem.)
I strongly believe that placing that many mothballs on your lawn could
endanger your children (or trespassing children) and may get into the
groundwater when you water your lawn. A good site to read is
http//www.howstuffworks.com/question210.htm which has links to sites that
describe the health effects and regulations about the components of moth
balls. I pasted in one paragraph below about the regulations concerning
legal reporting requirements for a "release" of only one pound of one of the
components of moth balls. Yikes!
Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986,
releases of more than one pound of 1,4-dichlorobenzene into the air, water,
or land must be reported annually and entered into the National Toxic
Release Inventory (TRI) data base.
We put in a new small lawn (12 x 15 ft.) in our back yard some months back,
and had the same problem. Flowerland, on Solano Ave. (in Albany) recommended
using bird netting (black plastic netting--I think it cost around $7 for
ours) to cover the new sod for a week or so. This solved it! Cheap, no
poisons--we secured it with bricks every few feet, and the raccoons left it
alone after a week. You can water right through it, and sunlight also passes
through. I didn't think it would work, but it did. The man at Flowerland said
that the raccoons don't want to walk on it; they think it's going to shift
under them. I've since used the netting for the veg. garden, and to keep cats
out of new plantings.
You can buy netting in the garden section of Home Depot or East Bay
Nursery. You can then bend wire (coat hangers will do) into "u" shapes
and push them down around the perimeter of the netting. I suppose you
could also buy something commercially. This will keep the racoons from
being able to dig it up. Good luck!
D. Banks/ R. Porter
We had a new lawn put in in June
and it is suffering badly.
The worst insult to it all has
been our on going war with the racoons. I've tried just about everything that
people have recommend, to no avail. The netting that I put over the lawn
seemed to be working, but, I swear to God, the racoons are getting stronger and
smarter and manage to pull the netting, bricks and all, up now. I'm about ready
to just give up unless someone can highly recommend a lawn savior. And no, I
didn't try to trap them because I just can't picture me, my toddler, and an angry
racoon getting in the car to go for a ride together. Thanks to anyone who
I am keeping my fingers crossed that the "Scarecrow" we purchased to ward off raccoons
will keep on working. It is a motion sensitive sprinkler. Easy to install because you just
hook it up to your hose and put it on your lawn, it will send out a jet of water when
motion is detected. We put it in a week ago and, fingers crossed again, haven't had a
problem with the raccoons since. We had also tried that netting, and that didn't work.
We bought it at Ace Hardware, and it really is called Scarecrow. You could also install a
motion detector into your existing sprinkler system, but that seemed to be more work for
us. Good luck.
Try putting bird netting on the lawn and anchoring it in place
with stakes used for drip irrigation tubes. Keep it in place
until the turf is well rooted and less tempting to the
We put a new lawn in this Spring and have had raccoons digging up the sod.
On the recommendation of Flowerland, we put netting down but it did not
We are using the motion detector sprinkler (For got name but has Scarecrow
graphics). It definitely works. However, it has to be on every night and
sometimes leaks. Available at Pastime Hardware in El Cerrito. Tom
Racoons are a very popular topic at the moment. This is due to the
fact that they are typically most active in the fall when their babies
have become very adventurous teenagers and they all go out as one big
happy family terrorizing the neighborhood. A few years ago we had a
new lawn put in during late summer. That fall the raccoons were
pulling up the edges of the lawn driving us absolutely crazy. Our
landscaper had recommended heavy duty netting. We basically ended up
netting the whole entire lawn. The only way to keep the netting down
was to stake it really well. Unfortunately we had to remove the
netting each time we had to mow the lawn. It was a heck of a lot of
work at first, but by the time the following summer rolled around the
lawn was well established and netting free. Of course then we started
having problems with moles! One important thing that our landscaper
told us was to never water the lawn late in the day or in the evening
because that is when worms and grubs become active and all the
watering at night makes them crawl up to the surface encouraging
raccoons, possums, skunks, and moles to seek out easy target
food. Also, watering frequently and lightly encourages more pests in
the surface of the soil which in turn encourages the animals. The key:
water less often and for longer periods of time, and, only do it in
There is a raccoon living in my attic. He gets in from the
roof top through a small hole where two sections of the roof
meet. Someone from the Alameda County Vector Control paid a
visit and recommended that we trim the trees at least three
feet back from the roof (which we've done). He stated that
even if we covered the hole, raccoons are persistent and would
follow the smell back to our attic.
Has any one had this same problem? Any recommendations on
companies who handle problems like this that you've worked
with? Or how we could handle this problem ourselves?
Help!! There's a raccoon pee spot on my ceiling!
We had the EXACT same problem and were told the exact same thing.
We tried soaking mothballs in ammonia (a friend's suggestion),
which did not work. Eventually we called a service to remove
them, as it is illegal in California to do it yourself (and who
would want to try?). The raccoon, and its babies in our attic,
were all removed, taken ''away'' and we have not had a problem
since. That was 2 years ago. I don't remember who we called,
but I just searched on the internet for 'raccoon removal'. It
might have been Animal Damage Control, but I cannot remember.
- happy to be raccoon free
Try calling Brent Tolliver of B&M Trapping. He may be able to
help you. (510) 867 1918
I've been plagued by raccoons in my ceiling in the past. I've
done both of the following: 1) Douse a lot of old rags with
ammonia and place them inside the attic/space. Replace them
regularly. When you know the raccoon(s) are gone (even for a few
hours) get up there and repair/close the hole(s) they use for an
entrance! 2) Get a humane trap, put some tuna fish in it, and
find them a new home. Good luck.
No More Raccoons
I had the same problem right down to the pee spot, plus 5 babies
in my attic and they killed our cat. The most helpful contact I
found was the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. They instructed us to put
a loudish radio out on the roof and bright lights pointing into
the hole at night. This eventually drove the mother to take her
youngsters to a new spot. We spread white lime on the roof so we
could track the footprints to tell when the mother was gone and
then hired a roofer to block the hole. We kept lime on the roof
for a while to be sure she had not returned. I also hired rat
patrol to inspect my home and block off all critters, large and
small from gaining access to any little spaces. I have to say all
the vector control contractors, trappers, etc I hired before
speaking with Lindsay were unable to rid us of the raccoons. Its
been two years and so far they are not back. Good luck.
Raccoons have been invading our basement, coming through our simple
cat door w/ flap and eating all their food. We decided to take
action. After some online research, we installed a magnetic cat door
by Cat Mate and our cats wear magnetic key collars which ''unlock''
the door. Problem is these pesky (and very smart) raccoons have a lot
of dexterity with those little hands and have figured out how to lift
the door toward them and go in rather than pushing it in. Has anyone
else had this problem and/or know of a solution? They come every
night, it's disgusting and dirty and they clear out all the food and
water. If we lock our cats in at night they get very upset and go #2
on the floor instead of box.
I have absolutely had that problem, and not only can they lift
the door to get in, they can't just run right back out again when
they're caught, so they freak out and run into different parts of
the house. Once I had one sit on my pillow ON MY BED and hiss at
me, while drooling.
Try putting a radio, tuned to talk radio right next to the door.
They'll think somebody is in there and not want to come in. This
may or may not work, we started doing it this summer but then
suddenly they all disappeared from the neighborhood, so I can't
be 100% sure that it was our fix. Otherwise, get a dog.
Seriously. With a dog on the other side of that door, no raccoon
will want to come through it. Unfortunately those are your only
options. We've been dealing with this for the 7+ years we've
lived in this house and I've never found a solution that I know
Racoons are aggressive and territorial and carry rabies. Even ones that do not
could injure your cats. You should either put up with the whining cats at night,
locked inside, or lock down the cat door at night, and put your own cats outside. I
suspect that the outside of your cats and house will seem much less interesting to
the racoons if no food is available.
Unless you get the racoons out of your house, by any means necessary, you will
end up with a horrible emergency vet appointment sometime soon.
I had this problem and my vet told me in no unclear terms to take this as a very
serious danger to my cats.
After having many racoon ''break ins'' over the years with my
family and my clients, I have devised a way to keep those guys
out of the building: Racoons cannot leap, they can only climb.
Cats, on the other hand can leap quite high. By placing the cat
door above the reach of the racoons and giving your cats a
platform to land on in front of the raised cat door, you have
solved the problem! It also keeps skunks at bay. It takes a bit
of time for the cats to figure out the new set up but most of
the time they get it pretty quickly. I have installed this
arrangement several times with great success. If you're
interested in more details, let me know.
Erich Hayner firstname.lastname@example.org
How about locking the cats outside with a safe box of some kind
to sleep in? OR not leaving any food out for them during the
night inside (wherever the raccoons are coming in). They
certainly won't starve from 8 hours without food. I know how
awful this is, raccoons are scary and WAY too smart.
Not a fan of raccoons
My magnetic cat door worked like a charm for years, but all of
a sudden, I'm in the same boat you are. Some day, I'll get
around to buying the really expensive ($350?), truly raccoon-
proof door previously recommended by many parents in this
newsletter. Until I do, though, I've found an easy way to keep
the raccoons out -- just take the cat food and water bowls away
at night. I put them in another room right before I go to
bed. Once the raccoons figured out that there's no food there
at night, they stopped coming in. Our cat somehow survives
without food until dawn. When I wake up, I present the food
and water to a very appreciative cat.
We used to have the same problem. We had to close the cat door
and let the cats in thru the doorway for a while. We had a baby
possum living in the garage for a little while before I
discovered a really wierd looking poop (and discovered where the
smell was coming from)
Now we have 3 dogs...I never see raccoons, possums, skunks,
etc...so far. I say, close the kitty door for a while.
We had a similar problem in the Thousand Oaks area. The
raccoons just busted through the magnetic cat door. After many
nights screaming down the hall after them with a broom (they
actually started coming up into our bedroom area where the kids
were...eek!), I set up a Hava Heart trap baited with peanut
butter. The first night they pulled out the peanut butter
without setting off the trap, but the next night I got one and
that was the last they came back. Now, the question
becomes ''what to do with a very angry, growling, stinking
raccoon. Animal Control would not take it and said that law
prohibits release farther than 1 mile from the capture site.
(So of course, it will find its way back). I couldn't bear
to ''off'' it, didn't want it to come back, and did the no-
no....released it in Tilden. That's why I am signed as...
We have had the same problem with several raccoons. The link to
the BPN website section on this issue has a ton of really good
suggestions. Here's an additional one that wasn't mentioned:
Consider setting your cat door to out-only at night, if your door
has such a setting. Ours does and basically our cat has learned
that if she wants to take off in the middle of the night, she's
not getting back in until we wake up. On our magnetic lock cat
door the out-only setting raises a tall, immobile latch up on the
inner part of the door. It's not possible for the racoons to pick
the magnetic lock with this additional ''deadbolt'' in place.
Another technique is to humane trap and relocate the raccoon.
We've done this twice. More come to take their place, but it
gives you some relief.
We had this exact problem a few years back and found a solution
that the raccoons did not defeat. (We had some clever raccoons,
too - they defeated the magnetic cat door on the first night!) We
put the cat door about four feet off the ground and put a small
shelf on either side. Our cat could jump up to the platform, go
through the cat door to the other platform, then jump down.
Apparently raccoons don't like to jump.
Years, ago had the same problem of raccoons coming in through our
dog door in the evening (having dogs doesn't get rid of raccoon
invasions). After doing an on-line search and posting on BPN, we
decided to try the advice one BPN member suggested, which was to
install a radio by the dog door and tune it to a talk radio
station. We were a bit skeptical, but it works great! The only
times we've had raccoon invasions is when we have forgotten to
turn on the clock-radio for an extended period of time.
We also replaced our dog door with one that can lock when we're
out of town. This has also been a great raccoon deterrant. We
tried the magnetic locking dog door, but our dogs kept losing the
Was awakened at 5:00 this morning by those pretty little gurgling
sounds that raccoons make except that one of two raccoons was in the
kitchen eating the cat food - had gotten in through the cat door -
another one was waiting (to come in?) outside the kitchen door. I
don't want to close off the cat door at night. Would it be enough to
lock up the cat food at night or are they now going to be coming in
and trying to get into the cabinets? Help! I'm sure there are plenty
of folks who have dealt with this around here so would appreciate any
Lock your cat door! we have had this problem in SF and Oakland. They will
keep coming inside even if you put the cat food away. Sometimes they're
looking for water. Sometimes, who knows what they're looking for. If you
lock you cat door at night for a few months, they'll give up and move
on...but another family might come so I would recommend locking it every
night. It has worked for us. Hope that helps.
We would get raccoons coming in our kitty door into the garage/office
to eat the cat food. They're very brazen. We started keeping our cat
in at night and closing off the cat door. It worked. The cat quickly
learned he couldn't go out at night. There were never any
accidents. We now have 2, 8 month old kittens and when we started
letting them out and took away the cat box we did the same thing
because the raccoon started coming in again if we left the kitty door
open. Unfortunately I don't think putting the food away will do the
trick. Also if your cat/s get into a tussle with the raccoons it's a
pretty sure bet the raccoon will win. You might reconsider your
wanting to keep the kitty door open all night. Good luck.
Raccoons appear "cute" but the reality is they can harbor some pretty
bad diseases and can tear a pet to shreds or bite you or your child
very badly. Raccoons rely on garbage and pet food much as rats do. We
have had awful problems in my area for years because people don't
control garbage well. Raccoons will rip apart a garden, cracking
branches and tearing up and breaking everything while looking for
If I were you, I would for sure close the pet door (get your cats an
indoor litter box for a while) until the raccoons lose interest and
you are rid of them. And then don't leave pet food, or any food, out
overnight, even inside. If the problems persists you may be able to
get help from the city vector control.
We have had really bad experiences with Raccoons in our house. They
started coming in the dog door and ended up tearing the shingles off
of the sides of our house in several places and nesting and having
babies in our attic. We eventually had to pay to have someone get rid
of them and hire a carpenter to repair the house. So... my advice to
you is lock up the kitchen and leave the cats in for a while until the
Raccoons find somewhere else to get their dinner. They are incredibly
clever, strong and can be aggressive. Don't encourage
them. Unfortunately, urban life has robbed them of their native
This is a reply to the writer with raccoons in the kitchen. We also
had raccoons who came in through the cat door. Not only did they eat
the cats' food, but they played with our son's stuffed animals. We
didn't know why the stuffed animals started losing noses and ears
until the middle of one night when we were awakened to the sound of
Tickle Me Elmo laughing his little head off. Upon investigating we
found Elmo stuck in the cat door unable to stop laughing and
vibrating. The raccoons had abandoned him when they couldn't squeeze
him through the door. Elmo's mishap started explaining a lot of
strange toy problems in our house. The only thing that worked for us
was to get a locking cat door, and lock it at night. Locking up the
food, or moving it away from the door just encouraged the raccoons to
explore further into the house.
At another house where neighborhood cats made unwelcome forays through
our cat door, we installed a cat door that responded to electronic
sensors on the cats' collars. This was a great solution in that it
let in wanted pets and kept out unwelcome critters, except that one of
our three cats could not adjust to using the high tech approach. If
your cats are young, I'd recommend trying it. Good luck.
Regarding the problem with racoons - my parents had this problem and tried
everything, including the electronic cat door that opened with a signal
from the cats' collars. Unfortunately, their racoons were able to push
through the door! What they finally did was to put a small
battery-operated radio near the cat door, tuned to an all-talk station.
The racoons hear the voices and think there are people around. It worked!
We have occasional raccoon visits too. A friend with a perennial problem of the raccoons
getting in the cat door even during the day said it helped to put a radio tuned to a talk station
near the cat door -- the raccoons thought people were in the house and didn't come in. I have
the kind of cat door that opens with magnets the cats wear on their collars. Really aggressive
raccoons can still pick the door open with their claws, but it does deter them, and when they
occasionally try to come in at night, they make such a racket I can get up and shine flashlights
at them (not to mention shouting and throwing things!).
I'm writing to reinforce the comments of some other responses to this
question. Do not allow wild animals to get into your house. They are
destructive, they carry diseases and (especially raccoons) can injure and
even kill small pets (like your cats). Also, they can be incredibly
nasty if you have to confront one to get it out of your house. Raccoons
are awfully cute at a distance, and vicious close up. Imagine trying to
get an enormous, angry, feral cat out of your house--that's almost how
scary a raccoon would be. Keep your pets in at night if raccoons are in
your neighborhood and lock that cat door.
We have struggled with generations of raccoons coming in our cat door. Our house is along side a creek and our raccoons are very, very smart. They have figured out everything from how to open a smart pet door (with magnetic lock) to opening the refrigerator and taking out a ten pound sack of potatoes and then proceeding to open the bag and take the potatoes out the cat door one at a time.
Having tried many different deterrents over the years to no avail, I have recently discovered a miracle (for me.) -- Citrus orange spray -- I spray around the cat door and on the doorway and steps leading to the cat door. The raccoons hate the smell of it, but the cats don't mind it at all. It is also just natural orange oils and non-toxic. I haven't had one raccoon come inside since I started doing this (spraying about every three or four days seems to work.)
Hope this might help someone. Wish I'd figured it out thirty years ago.
Since there seems to be a lot of raccoon postings of late, I have a query of
my own. As an alternative to Ferberizing our cat, we got one of those
magnetic collar cat doors -- kitty wears a collar with a magnet, which
activates the latch on the cat door, so that only he can go in or out
through the door. Unfortunately the raccoons, crafty little buggers, have
figured out how to get in anyway, just by reaching their claws through the
weatherproofing and depressing the latch. After many exciting nightime
raccoon visits, we're locking the cat door at night and once again being
woken up by kitty at night. My question -- is there any solution? Any cat
door that is raccoon proof? Help! DS
I can't offer any long term solutions since those raccoons seem to be able
to figure it all out. One thing that did work for us for several months
though was to put a radio near the pet door (on the inside) that played
talk radio. We also have a motion-activated light near the door. These
two things together worked for several months and then the raccoons
figured it out again :-( I"m hoping someone has a good sol'n!
We had this problem periodically and have one of those clear soft plastic
cat doors. We solved the problem by putting away the cat food at night and
making sure that there was nothing out in the kitchen that the raccoons
could smell. We keep the cat food bags far away from the kitchen where they
can't smell them either. Their olfactory sense is amazing!!! The few times
we forgot to put the food away, they were right back in there. Otherwise,
if they don't smell anything, they don't bother to come in, even though I
know they've been visiting the backyard as evidenced by digging and dirty
water dishes. Putting away all food was a very simple and effective
solution for us.
Our solution was to put kitty out at night and lock the kitty door. One kitty
likes to sleep inside and doesn't bug us to go out at 2 AM. The other one
always wants to go out at some unGodly hour so we just put him out when we go
to bed... like it or not!! Those raccoons are very crafty and clever. They
have to be to live in a world with humans. Good luck.
To give the kitty in/out access and keep the raccoons out, put the "cat
door" at a higher level. I used a ramp (wide enough for kitty but too
narrow for the coons) to a back hall window which was 4 to 5 feet above
the ground. The kitty came and went freely and no more raccoons! Ana
I just want to add to the racoon discussion. We live in Menlo Park and have racoon problems like you Berkeley people do.
First, thanks for the info about how to deter racoons from tearing up sod. Your discussion has saved me a lot of work. I searched with Google for "nightime sod digging" and came right to your discussion. Mystery solved - it must be racoon(s) and now we have a few options.
Second, another reason to lock the cat door at night to discourage racoons from entering your house is to give your cat peace of mind. Our cat is a calico who is easily startled. When we started locking the cat door the cat became more much more relaxed. I had no idea of the psychological damage the invading racoons were doing to the cat. We let the cat out in the daytime and she usually comes in when we call around 9pm. It seems better for her, too because she would get into fights at night, and that has stopped.
Thanks again! Ann (Sept 2004)
We've got a problem with 2-3 good sized raccoons hanging out in
our yard, on our shed, and most notably wrestling on our
balcony and roof. Any experiences or good ideas about how to
keep them away without harming them (or us) would be
We had raccoons that came into our house through the cat door to
get cat food. I don't mind that so much as they usually do that
in the late summer when water is scarce. We put away the cat
food and water at night and they stop coming. Well, an injured
raccoon started coming in and searching our house for food (our
toddler's dropped cheerios, etc.) and even came into our bedroom
at night! That had to stop. We called B&M Trapping 510- 867 1918. (Check the number and make sure you reached B & M....it
sometimes gets mixed up with another trappers number in the
phone listings.) The nice man in charge (forgot his name) is
licensed to trap wild animals and relocate them. He uses a have-
a-heart trap which doesn't hurt the animals. He'll put the
baited traps near your house daily until the raccoons are
trapped and then he'll release them in the hills by a
watershed. (Raccoons have to be released more than 10 miles
away or they can come back.) If a raccoon has babies and is
nursing, he will release the raccoon immediately and then re-
trap it later after the babies are weaned. It's very humane.
You should check out Gary Bogue, the animals and pets columnist
for the Contra Costa Times. He has a Raccoon Fact Sheet that
covers almost every potential raccoon problem. You can e-mail
him at email@example.com and ask for a copy of his Raccoon
Fact Sheet. (You should also give him a brief description of
your raccoon problem in case he has specific advice.) We had
problems with raccoons digging up our front yard. We tried
Gary's tips and the raccoons have moved on. Good luck.
Hi, we had the same problem with raccoons and I can't remember who we called (we
were in SF) but we found someone who gave us phone advice. The raccoons were using
our roof to go to the bathroom, since they don't just do it any ol' where. We were
instructed to soak a couple of rags in ammonia and put them up there. It worked and
the raccoons went away. We also had someone come and build up a sort of fence right
at the corner of our roofline and that may have helped, too. Good luck!
We had racoons nesting in our roof! After googling for
solutions I purchased dried cayote urine from Orchard Hardware.
The cayote is a natural predator in the wild. You take old knee
highs or cut up pantyhose and put dollops of this reeking powder
in the foot, tie it up and throw it in into the space they are
invading. We also sprinkled it liberally along the route they
had to take to get into the roof. Also blasted heavy metal
music at them full volume when the neighbors were out. They
I used to have a problem with a family of raccoons gathering on my roof. I tried
repeatedly shining lights on them and staring at them, whenever they made
disturbing noise. After about a couple of weeks of this, they went away, and they
haven't come around again for several months.
I had a family of 6 racoons (mom and 5 babies) in my ceiling. I tried several pest
control companies without success and finally got help from the Lindsay Museum.
They advised making their night life as unpleasant as possible. We put out
floodlights and radios at night during the times the raccoons came around. After
weeks of putting up with them while various and expensive trappers were
unsuccessful, the raccoons left in about three days. I then had Rat Patrol rodent
proof the house. Costly, but comes with a five year warranty against entering
creatures and the service was willing to come back often before I finally drove the
raccoons away. I understand that Alameda County Vector Control will help too,
except if you live anywhere in Alameda but Berkeley.
We need some advice. Last week, two huge raccoons decided to duke it
out on our back patio, leaving many bloodstains and a dying raccoon on our
step. (we live in the densely populated North Berkeley). Even our
motion spotlight and our frantic tapping on the patio door did nothing to
dissuade them from the fighting. (they have no fear...)
Now, since then, we have noticed many new raccoon mud prints around.
We have two young children, 1.5 and 3. We definitely don't want them
around. Any suggestions on how to dissuade them? A high pitched noise
sensor? Natural chemicals?
Thanks in advance.
Raccoons. My parents had very brazen raccoons coming in their house
through a cat door (that supposedly could only be activated by a signal
from the cats' collars). They tried a motion-sensitive outdoor light to
no avail. What finally did the trick was to put a small radio tuned to
a 24-hour news station outside the back door. Apparently, they can't
stand Rush Limbaugh!
Pastime Hardware in El Cerrito has two different kinds of deterrents for
raccoons. While I was looking at them a man told me that he had the kind
that you hook up to your hose and when they come near or into your yard
the water comes on and scares them away. He thought it was great. The
Pastime folks told me they had sold allot of the other kind, which emits
a high pitched noise that raccoons don't like. I opted for that one. It
has a 2 year money back guarantee,but I think it takes longer to really
work. After hooking it up and seeing that the raccoons still showed up I
phoned the company. I was told that the reason for the two year
guarantee was that raccoons, in particular, have a harder time changing
their behavior and habits, and particularly in our case because we have
a pond (with fish). In the beginning we were told to keep our device on
at all times (not using the motion sensor). We have to switch it off
when we go into the yard though because it hurts my ears and our
daughter's--my husband doesn't hear it at all. (Raccoons' hearing range
is similar to that of human's. This may not be a good idea if you have a
dog or cat because it also hurts their ears.) I am hopeful that this
will work and think that I do not see them as often. As a side note,
raccoons also hate the smell of ammonia and soaking rags in it and
putting them around has also worked for us. (sorry this is so long)
I hope someone else has an idea for repellants for you, because I don't.
We had a terrible time with raccoons after we installed sod in our West
Berkeley home some years back (they roll the sod up and eat the grubs
underneath, destroying the sod). The only thing that worked for us was
trapping them and having animal control take them away. We eventually
bought our own trap (the ones they have cost a small amount to rent each
time). They used to re-release them in Tilden, but I think they were
forced to stop this practice and started euthanizing them instead.
Eventually we got all the local raccoons out of the area, or they figured
out it was a bad yard to come into, one or the other.
I sympathize greatly.
Just a word of caution. A local animal lover was just telling me that
there is a kind of trap used that kills the raccoons but the specialists
called in to get rid of the animals don't necessarily tell the residents that.
So if you pay someone else to take care of the problem, make sure you ask
questions about how it will be done.
Get rid of those racoons with a slingshot, pepper spray, flamethrower,
Christmas carol tape loop, whatever it takes. Then saute with garlic
and paprika in your cooking oil of choice. Good luck!
Does anyone have any ideas on how to repel raccoons? We have a creek
which runs through our backyard and there are a number of raccoons living
there. They appear to have decided that my daughter's tree fort is a
perfect latrine. I have heard that, in addition to being "gross"
(according to my 7-year-old), their feces carries ringworm. Someone
suggested wolf urine as a repellant, but I have no idea where you would
locate such a thing.
We had the same problem and found a sonar device at Costco Santa Rosa for
approx. $50? (prob. could get on-line Costco website). It lets out a
piercing noise to raccoons. We have it under the house where they lived
and can barely hear it. It appears to have worked.
Re: wolf urine to repel racoons:
I've seen something like that at Berkeley Horticulture Nursery.
Raccoons knocking over the garbage cans
I have been having a problem of raccoons coming over in the middle of
the night, knocking down my garbage can and leaving an awful mess.
These critters are really bold. I caught a gang of them at the scene
and spotting a flashlight did nothing to interfere with their meal. I
already have one of those plastic locking cans from Home Depot, but
somehow, those raccoons still seem to get into it. I considered buying
a little shed that encloses the garbage can, but I still have to leave
the garbage can out in the open the night before since the sanitation
people seem to come at different times in the morning, sometimes too
early for me to put it out at that time. Does anyone have an idea for
how to raccoon-proof a garbage can? Or does anyone know of a really
hard to open style and where to buy? Thanks for your help.
In response to Remedy For Raccoons Knocking Over Garbage Can:
Raccoons can be a real problem. Where I live they have learned to 'open'
bungie cords. This will work if you have a can that has a lid that only opens
on one side and a cross bar lower down (the kind of can alot of garbage
companies use). What you need to do is attach two bungie cords permanent to
the top of the can (lid) by drilling holes, inserting the 'hook' of the cord
into it, then squeeze the hook closed, the other part of the bungie cords are
hooked into the lower cross bar. (It may be hard to get just the right size
of bungie cord, so adjustable cords may the project alot easier.) The result
is easy to use and quite successful in foiling the racoons. (If you can not
get hold of this kind of can, perhaps wrapping a bungie around the middle of
the can, to act as a cross bar, then attach 3 or 4 bungies to the lid, in the
same manner. That might be worth a try.)
Raccoons are the most irritating and challenging urban pests I've ever dealt with.
The second most irritating would be deer. There are ways to discourage raccoons,
though nothing is ever completely full proof as long as we have them around. They
are very smart and very adaptable to change. I would go ahead and put the trash
can inside some kind of little shed or barrier, that way the raccoons won't have
access to it on a nightly basis. Then, when you do need to put it out, I've seen a lot of
people use bungie (sp?) chords to strap down the lids to the cans hooking the chords
on the handles. I think garbage collectors are use to seeing this, and can remove
them easily. However, I don't know how often they get lost. At least you will have
solved the problem most of the time. And the raccoons will not come around as often
if there is nothing for them to eat every night. The other thing you might consider
is reducing the amount of smelly attractive garbage by double bagging,
composting, and using your garbage disposal more often. Sometimes when I have
some old meat that I know is going to be in the trash for a week, I bag it up real well
and store it in the freezer till the night before trash pick-up. You may want to label
it so you don't forget and leave it in your freezer. If you have pets, never leave their
food outdoors. And if you have any kind of fish pond or water garden, this will
attract them as well. Raccoons LOVE to play in water, as well as hunt for snails and
sometimes fish. An electric fence (Fido Shock) works really well around ponds,
though it is no fun to look at. You may also want to talk to neighbors. The raccoons
could still come around on a regular basis if neighbors are leaving pet food out or
not tying their trash cans down. I knew a neighbor once who was deliberately
feeding them because she thought they were so cute. All of this can contribute to a
wider neighborhood pest problem. Goodluck! I would love to find out how it goes.
I would buy the biggest, heaviest cart style can I could find and then lash
the lid tightly with bungee cords. Our cans in Berkeley are city owned and
tall have a fairly heavy lid that opens on one side. We have regular
backyard-visiting racoons but they've never managed to get in the can, or
knock it over. Racoons are very smart, persistent creatures and you'll have to work
to outwit them.
When I was a child we had a terrible problem with raccoons. We had the old metal
trash cans. My parents used bungee cords to keep the little buggers out. They
attached one from one can handle, through the lid handle to the other can handle.
Then, they used another around the can, through the handles, to attach the can to
our railing (we lived in one of those Montclair houses with the driveway at the top
and the house down the hill and so we had a railing along the driveway.)
We found a simple solution that works great. We put
the lid on, then hook a bungie cord under the lip that
the lid snaps into, then run it over to the other
side. Diagonally works best.
A bungie cord works perfectly. Our garbage can has a plastic handle on the top lid
and a metal rod near the bottom. Everyone in our neighborhood uses one on their
Our neighbors gave us a simple rubber band with cloth on the outside, with black
metal hooks on the ends. I've seen people use them for securing things on bike
racks. What are they called? We use them to keep the lids closed.
And the winner is.....bungee cords!
I am the person who requested and received a good number of responses to
my problem with raccoons attacking my garbage cans. The overwhelming
solution was bungee cording my garbage can and I want to say that this
worked like a dream. Sure, those coons toppled it over a couple of
times, but haven't gotten into the trash. I thought that I needed to
build or buy some sort of hut for my garbage can, but my problem was
solved by a couple of bucks. Thanks so much for a low cost and very
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