Animal Health & Welfare

Common Raccoon Questions & Answers


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In many ways, chimneys seem like ideal replacement homes for Raccoons who would typically den in hollow trees or logs. This is a common problem for homeowners and a potentially dangerous situation for the animals.

In most cases, the Raccoons are fully capable of coming and going as they please. In this case, repel techniques are the most effective. Keep in mind that they have chosen your chimney because it is warm, dark, and quiet, so the best way to get him/her to leave is by changing what they find inviting. Placing ammonia soaked rags in the chimney and playing loud music during the day will discourage the Raccoons from taking up residence. Allow a few days for the Raccoon to remove her family in case there are babies present and when you are positive all of the Raccoons are gone, be sure to get the chimney capped to prevent further occurrences.

First thing you want to do is make sure the Raccoon has one easy-to-locate exit. Block all other exits. Obtain six to twelve, one inch strips of fabric, tie them in tight knots and soak them in household ammonia. Then, wearing rubber gloves, place these under the deck or in the attic where the Raccoon has been seen or heard. Next, buy cayenne pepper at 90,000 heat units which can be found at your local natural foods store, Whole Foods or Sun Harvest. Sprinkle the pepper generously in areas that the animal has been seen coming and going such as a hole leading under the deck or around trees that give the animal access to the attic. Animals cannot tolerate the presence of the pepper and they will vacate the area. Note: pets and children should not have access to the pepper! Lights and loud music during the day also disturbs Raccoons who sleep during these hours. Once these techniques are used for several days, tape a piece of newspaper over the hole. If it is not disturbed for several more days, you are now safe to cover the hole securely, preventing Raccoons or other animals from coming back in.

Understand that accessible garbage is a regular smorgasbord for hungry animals like Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks, but the only way they can gain access is if Humans let them. So how do you animal-proof your garbage can? First, be sure you have a lid that fits tightly. If this isn’t possible, you might try hooking a bungee cord from one side of the can to the other to secure the lid. Or you could try placing a large rock on top of the lid to secure it. Usually Raccoons gain entry into garbage cans by tipping them over. For this reason it helps to have the cans stored in racks or tied in an upright position. Most native wildlife is nocturnal and thus usually feed at night, so put your garbage out the morning of pick-up instead of in the evening. Ask your neighbors to do the same.

If you are willing to do so, here is how to release the raccoon yourself:

  • Cover the trap with an old tarp or sheet while you transport the animal; this makes the ordeal less stressful for the Raccoon. The best release sites are wooded areas with an abundant water source. Once there, prop the door of the trap open and the Raccoon should leave on his/her own with in a few minutes.
  • Call Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation If you are not willing to release the raccoon yourself.
  • Remember, attempting to use traps as a means of wildlife control is an ineffective means of removing wildlife because removing one animal simply opens up a niche for other animals to come in.
Reasons NOT to Live Trap

Live trapping is an ineffective means of controlling wildlife in your yard. By trapping and removing and wild animal you are simply creating a vacancy for more animals to move in. It is more effective to ask yourself why the animals are finding your yard appealing (the answer will probably be either food, water, or shelter) and what you can do to remove what it is that the animal is finding appealing, repel the animal from your yard, and prevent them from returning. Exclusion methods and some degree of tolerance are ultimately more successful and lasting.

Live trapping should never be an option between early spring to early fall. This is the time when most species of native wildlife are having their young and there may be babies in, under, or around your house that are entirely dependent on their mother for food and protection. Any action that prevents the mother from caring for her young will result in suffering for her and a slow death for the babies. Since the family will not stay forever, or even for a very long time (a month or two, perhaps less), it is better to wait until the family vacates and then take action that will prevent the same thing from happening again.

Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc.

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24-Hour Hotline: 830.336.2725

Address: 1354 Basse Road, San Antonio, TX 78212  •  Web Address:

Should you find a wild animal in crisis, or need emergency assistance with a wild animal, please contact WRR, 24-hours a day.

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