How To Get Rid Of Raccoons: Cost, Tips, DIY VS Professional Help
Trying to find out how to get rid of raccoons efficiently? Read our guide for the best DIY tips and the cost of hiring a professional.
Movies are to blame for creating such an appealing image of raccoons. They portray these creatures as smart, and cute as a button but fail to show what a paint these animals can be (more on this later).
Raccoons are the most recognizable pest in the U.S and are best known for the nuisance they are. If there is any mischief on your compound, the odds are that a raccoon is responsible. Tough luck for you if you have a pool as there is a high likelihood they will defecate in it. Also, these animals won’t spare your ornamental fish given that they have a sweet tooth for these.
The top reason why it’s quite tricky to get rid of coons, is they are quite versatile. Yes, they are associated with wet areas, but you will also find them in cities seeing as they are adept in dumpster living. They thrive in dumpsters as they are omnivorous and will feed on anything edible.
Coons love to shelter in warm and dry places like hollow logs or burrow holes that have been abandoned by other animals and is the chief reason why they like setting up shop in attics. After all, it’s warmer and more spacious. Also, there is a slim chance that most homeowners go up into the attic which allows them to thrive.
Why Raccoons are in Your Backyard
There are several furry creatures are likely to show up in your backyard but will not be disconcerting. E.g., bunnies and squirrels. However, raccoons will undoubtedly give you a pause. Once you spot a raccoon, there is a high likelihood that the little rascal isn’t going to leave anytime soon. The best way to do away with this creature is to narrow down on the reason why it wandered into your compound.
The core reason why raccoons are wandering into your compound and your house is the availability of something to snack on. However, most homeowners aren’t familiar with what raccoons feed on and is the reason why their measures to control the pests have little to no effect. First, coons are omnivorous.
They will feed on anything from meat, to fruits, nuts, and vegetables. They also have a liking for worms and insects and are often drawn to garbage. Therefore, it’s best you clean up the moment you spot a raccoon. By reducing the prospect of food, you reduce the chances of the animals coming into your compound. Though we will discuss more complex DIY measures, some simple ways to clean up include cleaning debris such as leaves that may allow worms and insects to pile up. Also, keep the area under fruit and nut trees clean and invest is garbage cans that coons can’t effortlessly get into.
Nevertheless, waste food, insects and worms, and nuts aren’t the only food these pests feed on. Raccoons consider bird feeders and pet food excellent curb appeal. Also, as pointed out earlier, they love ornamental fish, and will also feed on the birds. You might want to raccoon-proof your chicken coop, and lock away pet food, to reduce the appeal.
Once coons find an excellent place to feed, the next step is to get an ideal spot to live and probably raise its young ones, and the attic is a good prospect. First, increasing human population has led to the loss of raccoon’s natural habitats mostly through construction and development.
However, raccoons are quite intelligent and can thrive in any environment. Also, over time, the creatures realize that human-made structures are quite similar to natural habitats with better climate control and few predators. So, the availability of food and better shelter is quite inviting for raccoons.
The shelter holds true more for female raccoons looking to raise their young. Often, you will find raccoons in chimneys, attics, sheds, and the space beneath your porch or house.
Raccoons are nocturnal animals, and there is a very low likelihood that you will come across them during the night. They prefer to scavenge during the dark of night which is also ideal as there is little human traffic. If you haven’t lit up your home, you are courting trouble. Regrettably, a single porch light will do little to deter raccoons. Also, if you are keen enough, these creatures prefer to nest in areas with minimum brightness.
Sorry to say, but you might be the one to blame for the raccoon invasion by allowing easy access to your compound and house. Raccoons are quite resourceful, and common fences do little to keep them out. Often, persistent coons will climb over or dig under the fence. The only ideal way to deter these creatures is to install an electric fence (more on this later). Also, you might be allowing access to your house by leaving the pet door open. Ensure you always lock the pet door at night when these pests are active. Also, only activate the electric fence at night to reduce the chances of pets or children getting hurt.
How Raccoons Get into Houses
Raccoons are intelligent and extremely determined when it comes to finding shelter. Also, like all other wild animals, they are opportunists and will take advantage of the slightest weakness in your building structure to get into your house. They will chew through if they have to. Surprisingly, they only need a space that is 4” wide to force their head through. That is why securing your home from intrusions is critical when it comes to protecting yourself from raccoons. You can employ the services of a wildlife specialist as they are trained to identify potential entry points and have the know how to secure them. That aside, there are some common points of entry you should pay close attention to as they are notorious with raccoons.
Flimsy roof-soffit intersections provide raccoons with one of the most straightforward means to get into your home. Also known as RSI, roof-soffit intersections are any part of your roof where the soffit is located above a roof section. It is common where a lower and upper roof meet. Raccoons will force this part open with their shoulders and gain access to the entire attic.
Mimicking a hollowed out tree cavity, fireplaces are perfect for raccoons as they provide not only shelter and protection from predators and erratic weather, but also warmth. Raccoons will nest at the bottom of your chimney right on top your fireplace’s damper. The spot is ideal for mother raccoons to raise their babies and at the same time, they can crawl in and out with ease.
This is the area around the pipes that connect your sewer system and the outside. The tube is responsible for getting rid of sewer gases. Often, when contractors are installing the vent, they will cut out a hole in the roof that is larger than the pipe to make it easier to run the plumping.
Afterwards, the area around the vent is sealed with a rubber matting. These mats are a weak point, and raccoons exploit it to gain access to your attic. They will pull and tear at the material, and unfortunately, the rubber mats aren’t robust enough to keep them out.
Owing to the high amounts of water that passes this area on its way to the gutters plus the never-ending freezing and thawing, the roof edges weaken faster than any other part of the roof. Eventually, the wood may rot making it a perfect spot for raccoons.
Finally, we have roof vents. These are intended to allow proper air circulation but also act as one of the easiest ways raccoons can gain access to your attic. Coons are smart, and the feel of warm air escaping your attic is an invitation. Unfortunately, most aluminum and plastic covers are no match for these creatures, and they will still force their way in.
By and large, these pests are notorious for getting in through unsupervised areas. The vents, chimney, roof edges, and plumbing mats go for long periods unchecked since they are quite high and most homeowners will inspect them only when there is a leak or they have to clean the gutters.
This means that it will be a picnic for the raccoons and you will just know of the invasion when it’s too late, and the rascals are already running around in your attic. Always inspect your roofs to deter these creatures, but remember vents and the likes are not the only way they can get in.
Raccoons will make the most of any weak point on your roof.
Issues Associated with Raccoons
The top reason why you should eradicate raccoons from your home is the diseases that they carry. These creatures bring a myriad of zoonotic illnesses that have little effect on them but are harmful to humans.
If for no other reason, exterminate raccoons from your home for the danger that raccoon roundworm poses. This is an illness that touches the central nervous system leading to multiple organ failure, neurological impairment, and death. The roundworm has little effect on the animal, but its effects are quite lethal on human beings. Dwelling in a raccoons intestines, the parasite will lay its eggs in the animal’s fecal matter which is later secreted on your property. The eggs turn into larvae, and at this stage, they are quite hardy to chemical or physical cleaning. Also, the worms can stay in the environment for extended periods of time.
However, you not only run the risks of being infected with the parasite when dealing with a raccoon’s feces but through inhalation too. The larvae are airborne, and you can easily breathe it in. The infection will later travel to your brain where it will have devastating effects.
Leptospirosis is a disease which has flu-like symptoms but can lead more severe health issues such as kidney problems and meningitis. It’s often challenging to diagnose seeing as its indicators are similar to flu symptoms. It is instigated by the Leptospira bacteria which is found in raccoon urine, and infections follow after humans consume contaminated water or get into any other contact with infected raccoon urine. Kids are susceptible to this as they are notorious for taking water from leftover pools of water.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), raccoons are the most highly susceptible wildlife species to rabies. All the more why you should stamp out all the raccoons in your house. The disease is a life-threatening illness if left untreated and you should steer clear of any raccoon displaying rabid characteristics.
Though not as life-threatening as rabies and raccoon roundworm, Giardiasis is a disease that will cause you significant discomfort. It is associated with diarrhea, dehydration, cramps, and nausea. It is transmitted through a parasite found in a raccoon’s fecal matter. However, it can also be passed on through human waste.
Other than the health concerns, you might want to remedy your raccoon problem to avoid massive heating and cooling bills. On average, a raccoon weighs between 25 and 30 lbs. Therefore it can easily compact the insulation in your attic by merely walking around reducing the effectiveness. Pregnant raccoons are infamous for compacting large areas of the attic in search of ideal spots to raise their young. By reducing the efficiency of your insulation, you end up incurring more on heating and cooling. They can also eat through the insulation guarding your electrical systems which might lead to fires.
DIY Raccoon Extermination
If you are looking to avoid the high costs associated with hiring a wildlife specialist, there are various options available for you. We advise using humane methods to trap or deter these creatures.
Trap and Relocate
A raccoon trap is your best bet to trap and these creatures. However, you have to ensure the trap is solidly constructed as the animal is strong enough to break out from flimsy traps. Seeing as these creatures feed on literally anything, you, therefore, have a wide variety of baits. Pet food will work too, but you might end up trapping the wrong animal. You will need to purchase a trap which will set you back between $50 and $100. You will also have to transport the animal about 10 miles from your home to a suitable habitat. Avoid dealing with creatures demonstrating rabid symptoms but engage the services of a professional in such instances.
Other than bait, you can set the trap where the animals access your attic. Nevertheless, remember that trapping of raccoons is illegal and you have to get a permit. Also, it is temporary, and you will find yourself in the same problem with another raccoon unless you solve the underlying issues.
Protect your Trash
Raccoons will not feel the need to leave your property if you continually feed them. The top reason why these creatures come into your home is the availability of food, and therefore the best way to get rid of coons is to make life difficult for them by reducing access to food. Though it is a pain, you need to invest in metal trash cans, bungee cords, and blocks either cider or concrete. Seeing as these are nocturnal animals, always cover your trash cans at night, bungee the lid, and place the block on top. Raccoons will feel unwelcome once you curtail their access to food. Subsequently, they will stop wandering into your compound. However, the efforts will go beyond protecting your trash.
Remember to empty your bird feeders at night and lock away pet food. Also, keep your compound clean to keep away worms and insects that are food for raccoons. Before you purchase a trap, get rid of all potential food sources for raccoons, and their numbers will reduce drastically. A new metal trash can will set you back around $35, bungee cords $5 to $10 depending on the size, and cinder blocks will set you back between $3 and $6.
Make them Feel Unwelcome
Once you have removed all food sources from your compound, you need to deter them from accessing your compound. I.e., make them feel unwelcome. Fences are an ideal way to keep raccoons out. However, if the allure of food or shelter is too high, a typical fence will do very little to keep the creatures out. The animals will easily climb over or dig under the fence to gain access. Therefore, the fence will have to be an electric fence. Luckily though, you can make any fence just by running an electric strand from a power source. The strand should be 8” from the ground and the same distance from the fence. The effects from this will have the raccoons think twice before they wander into your compound.
Also, you can use the same tactic around shrubs, chicken coop, fish ponds, or pools. The only difference is, you will have to run two strands one at 6” and the other at 1’. Remember only to activate the fence at night when raccoons are active and also to not endanger kids and pets.
As for the costs, you will need a charger and the strands. The charger is the heart of an electric fence and will set you back between $50 and $300 depending on the output. Also, they are designed to connect to any outlet, so you do not have to worry about retrofitting your wiring. Some advanced chargers can use batteries while others can use solar energy. As for the strands, expect a fee between $0.05 to 0.75 to run a square foot of wire subject to the type of cable you run, terrain, the distance between posts, and whether the fence is permanent or impermanent.
Employing scare tactics will work well with most raccoons though for just a while though. Raccoons are pretty smart and will soon realize that no harm can come to them from the scare mechanisms. Your devices, therefore, become useless. There are a couple of motion-activated deterrents you can use to keep raccoons at bays. Floodlights, radios, ultrasonic noisemakers, and sprinklers. Ensure you switch them up, so the creatures don’t get accustomed. Floodlights will set you back between $30 and $50, radios around $60, and ultrasonic noisemakers between $200 and $1000.
Other than the measures above, you can use some natural deterrents to scare away raccoons.
Ammonia – Raccoons are clean animals and avoid soiling their dens which is the top reason why they love going to the bathroom in your pools or fish ponds. Seeing as ammonia is found in urine, wetting some few towels and placing them in dens and access points may fool the raccoons into thinking that their nests are dirty and thus abandoned. It is ideal where you are on a tight budget or don’t want to engage in the tedious activities of trapping and relocating the creatures.
Predator Urine – The top reason why raccoons like creating dens in attics, chimneys, and crawlspaces other than shelter, is the protection they get from predators. Therefore a sure way of getting rid of these pesky little creatures is to create the illusion of a predator which will send them scampering to the woods. These deterrents are available at most online retailers. Urine from bobcats, mountain lions, and wolves is particularly useful. Spray the urine where raccoons are nesting plus access points, and you will not have to deal with these creatures for a while.
Scarecrows – This is a motion activated sprinkler that activates once a raccoon trips the sensor. The noise from the sprinklers startles the raccoon. However, remember that these are smart creatures, and they will soon realize that the scarecrows are no threat making it ineffective.
By and large, if you are looking to DIY raccoon removal, avoid activities that involve dealing with their waste or getting rid of raccoon mothers. If you suspect a raccoon is nursing in your home, hire a professional to get rid of the mother and the babies. You don’t want the smell of decomposing raccoon babies in your house. Also, raccoon fecal matter is often infested and coming into contact or inhaling it can lead to infections.
|Trap and Relocate||$50||$100|
|Metal Trash Cans||$35|
Professional Raccoon Removal Costs
If you want a thorough job to eradicate raccoons, we advise you hire a professional and more so an animal specialist. Yes, DIYing will save you money, and it’s fun, but chances are you lack the requisite skills to entirely and humanely get rid of these creatures. Also, these animals are dangerous. They will bite and scratch if cornered, and the diseases they carry are harmful to most humans. Therefore, to protect yourself from the dangers associated with dealing with raccoons hire a professional.
Once you hire a professional, expect a large chunk of the money to go into labor. However, all raccoon removal jobs have to start with a full home inspection. The inspection is to determine damage extent as well as the infestation. First, the specialists will have to establish all the entry points and raccoon hideouts in your home. Also, they have to determine why they are drawn to your home and figure out how to curb that. The inspection goes further to establish the steps that have to be taken to prevent the raccoons from returning. Fret not though as checks are often free.
As for the removal, professionals just like DIYers use traps to catch raccoons. Expect a price tag between $80 and $150 for professional services per trap per raccoon, and it might get a bit expensive if you have a severe raccoon infestation and assuming that the critters aren’t in your house yet. Most trappers will provide an over the phone estimate as this job is quite straightforward. However, things change if the coons have gained access to your house. It is difficult to give a quote without a home inspection first as the job can be quite simple as ground trapping, or more engaging requiring prevention and decontamination. Nevertheless, most homeowners report spending between $300 and $500 for raccoon removal. Clean up will be a bit high setting you back about $500. Repairs, on the other hand, will cost you about $300.
Trapping and relocating raccoons is cheap. Dead raccoons, on the other hand, tend to be more expensive, because they might be trapped in tight to get to spots, e.g., in between walls. This often forces trappers to tear down part of your walls to get to the corpses. Anticipate a price tag of about $275 to $300, per dead raccoon. Another thing to consider is the cost involved in eradicating a group of raccoons. Pregnant raccoons are notorious with attics, walls, and crawlspaces where they nurse their young ones. The price to remove them will be more at $500 per group since they have to be removed by hand.
Raccoon babies are another reason why we encourage hiring an experienced trapper. Often, homeowners get rid of the mother raccoon but forget the cubs in the house. They die inside your home as they can’t fend for themselves and the smell is quite unpleasant. A trapper, on the other hand, ensures that s/he removes all the raccoons and cubs.
|Traps and Relocation||$80||$150|
Beyond removal of raccoons, you are going to have to invest more money to prevent the issues from recurring. Though most companies offer removal services, only a few provide repairs and prevention. We advise you hire one that does.
Prevention – After removing raccoons from you’re the next best course of action is to ensure that they don’t come back. First, you will have to seal all access points and install chimney caps. Anticipate a fee of about $1000 for every chimney cap. Also, you will have to invest in animal-proof vents, and ensure they are sturdy enough to stop raccoons.
These will set you back between $300 and $400 each. If you are on a tight budget, you can use exclusive barriers which will work with your current vents. They will keep the raccoons from entering vulnerable places such as vents. Exclusion barrier installation will set you back between $10 and $20 for every linear foot. Something else you ought to consider is cutting back your trees about 6 to 8 feet from your home to stop raccoons from climbing onto your roof. Also, invest in a means to tie your trash cans to a wall or a fence to keep the raccoons from knocking them over. You can also use professionals to install an electric fence to deter critters.
Companies often charge between $0.20 and $3 for every square foot of electric fence. This price is subject to the terrain, the number of strands, and the type too. Finally, we have the one-way door installation. These are doors that allow raccoons to get out but not to re-enter. We advise putting these in at access points and will cost you between $300 and $400. It is the most humane way to eradicate raccoons.
Repairs – Other than ruining your insulation by compressing it, raccoons can cause a lot of damage to your house. First, they eat through your HVAC, your walls, ducts, and damage the roof just to gain access. Expect a price tag between $1,000 and $10,000 depending on the severity to repair long-term damages. Some repairs may be catered for by your insurance company. Check with them to find out what is covered in your policy.
Clean up – As pointed out earlier, raccoon feces are perhaps their most dangerous aspects. The parasites it contains are lethal and worse still, are airborne. Only a professional is qualified to get rid of their waste, and you will pay about $500.
|One time visits||Costs are higher than the other visits. Includes assessment, finding the hiding and nesting spots of silverfish, identifying entry points, applying treatment and control methods||$300-$550|
|Initial visits||Includes assessment, looking for the nests and finding the entry points, scheduling for periodic visits, and recommending treatment plan||$180-$185|
|Periodic visits||Monthly visits|
How to Hire a Proficient Company
Removing raccoons and ensuring they don’t come back is more engaging than most homeowners take it to be. That’s why we advise you hire professionals to tackle these critters. Also, you want to ensure that the animals are treated humanely. There are companies out there which are only out to make a quick buck and don’t care much about the animal’s welfare. Finally, you want to make sure that the animals are relocated at least 10 miles away from your home to avoid reoccupation. Most fraudulent will relocate the animals some few miles away which means that the odds of the raccoon reoccupying your home are high.
Recommendations – This is probably the best way to hire a proficient company. Ask around amongst your friends and colleagues and more so those who have had to deal with a raccoon infestation. Ensure you get all the details about their experience with the contractor and if they would engage them again. If colleagues are no help, check social endorsements such as reviews on Facebook or Google. Pay close attention to the unenthusiatic reviews as they might point out some pitfalls. You can also check with companies such as Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau.
Age of the business – The number of years a company has been operating is a testament to their commitment to animal control. It does not mean that their services are exceptional, but you can expect experience, and streamlined services unlike when dealing with newer companies. Check with the BBB for any complaints lodged against them and check to see how they handled them. We advise working with older firms though you can still engage recently established institutions if they seem credible.
Stay local – Most fraudulent organizations are fly-by-night contractors. They are often from out of state. Staying local will reduce your chances of being conned. To make sure that animal control is from town, ask for an address and make a point of visiting them at their offices.
Understand the methods the company uses – As pointed out earlier, you want to ensure that the company you are working with treats raccoons humanely and that only the sick raccoons are euthanized. This calls for you to understand their methods, of getting rid of coons. Some institutions exterminate these creatures using harmful substances which are hazardous to your health and that of your family. They go on to justify their means, but the truth is such crude methods aren’t necessary to solve your raccoon problem. Ask the company for their means of eradication and ensure you are comfortable with them.
No obligation estimates – Raccoon removal will need a home inspection. However, no check should obligate you to use the institution’s services. Though most companies offer free investigations, it’s best you work with a paid business. Though not all organizations providing free quotes are fraudulent, there are some which are only out to get one foot in the door just to con you later on.
Work with different companies – If you are okay paying for the inspection, then ensure you don’t work with the same company to avoid conflict of interest. Ensure you establish this with your contractor before examination begins.
Qualified to handle home repairs – When hiring an institution to get rid of raccoons from your home, do employ an organization with qualified contractors to handle the repairs. Remember that raccoons are a menace and might have damaged your insulation, ductwork, and
Guarantees – Finally ask what they can assure you. A business willing to guarantee their work means they have total confidence in what they can offer.
10 Questions to Ask Your Animal Control Expert
1. Can change in human behavior remedy the problem?
Often we have to contend with raccoons invading our property owing to our behavior. Raccoons will only be drawn to your home at the prospect of shelter and food. Therefore, if changing these two can deter the critters, it would be wise to do so to reduce harm to the animals. Remember also; it is human construction and development that has invaded wildlife habitat, causing the animals to adapt.
2. How can I monitor the results?
Remember, raccoons have to be relocated at least 10 miles away from your home to reduce the odds of reoccupation. Your contractor should provide you with a way to measure the results and ensure that the desired results are achieved.
3. What is the animal welfare cost?
When removing raccoons, there is more to consider than the damage done to your home. This question will help you ensure that the company’s methods of trapping and relocation do the least harm to the least number of raccoons.
4. Is animal control required?
Does harm done by raccoons justify animal control? There are instances where a raccoon has just wandered onto your compound and will leave on its own.
5. Is your plan part of a long-term plan?
All animal control plans should be part of a longer term plan to reduce conflict between human beings and animals. This applies to raccoons and all companies. Ensure that the contractor has in place to get rid of raccoons from your home and area for the long term. The plans should be humane though.
6. Is the need for raccoon control driven by the reality or the negative labels given to the critters?
When considering to get rid of raccoons in your home, ask your contractor why you need it? Ensure that you are considering the move due to the reality on the ground, and not the lousy reputation an animal has.
7. How do they charge?
One of the most common schedule you will come across is by “per animal.” It may sound good at first, but the bill will soon inflate if it is a recurrent issue and more so if the company doesn’t put in preventive measures.
8. What kind of products do you use?
This question is geared towards helping you understand if the means the company uses are humane, and will not land you in trouble. The products you should check include the bait, poison, traps, etc. Ensure the bait is professional lest you trap a neighbors pet. If poison has to be used, and it’s only in extreme cases, ensure it isn’t harmful to the environment, and won’t cause the raccoon agonizing pain.
9. Do they assist in repair?
You will be better hiring a business that will handle the clean-up, repairs, and prevention.
10. Can I see your certification and licenses?
Finally, you want to ensure that the company you are looking to hire is qualified to handle the job. Certification provides evidence of this. Also, ensure that they are licensed to trap and relocate animals.
That is it about Raccoon removal. Hope we provided enough information, but please leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.