Raccoons in the Attic

Education - Raccoons in the Attic

This is one of the most common, but most complex, wildlife issues nationwide. Raccoons in an attic cause damage, and usually have a nest of baby raccoons.

How To Get Raccoons Out of Your Attic

The first sign of raccoons in the attic is the noise - you probably hear thumping or walking at night. You might also hear vocal noises from the adult or from a nest of baby raccoons. Here's the deal with raccoons in the attic: there's almost always a female who has a nest of 3-5 baby raccoons. That's why she went into the attic in the first place. Raccoons don't have much use for your attic otherwise. The most common time of year for this is spring, with the peak time from March-May, but I've seen baby raccoons at many different times of the year. A raccoon is a large animal, and a strong and messy animal. They need a large entry hole (or holes) to get into your home, and they can rip right through shingles and wood roof. Once in an attic, they can tear up ducts and wires, trample insulation, and leave piles of large droppings behind. Click here for photos of raccoon damage. They will stay in the attic for maybe 8 months, until the young are big and strong enough to make it on their own, at which time the female will likely mate again and want to use your attic once more. You want to remove raccoons from your attic, but it's not very easy. You have to get the nest of baby raccoons. If you don't, they will scratch and claw and maybe make their way through your ceiling, or they will scream for up to two weeks and then die of starvation and decompose and cause a big odor problem. It's very inhumane to not get the baby raccoons. Be sure you handle this delicate situation correctly! If you want to hire someone to do this, read more about how much does raccoon removal cost.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons in the Attic - 4 How-To Steps

1 - Find the Raccoon Entry Hole(s)

Inspect the exterior of the home, including the roof and all vents, to find out how the raccoons are getting in. Also inspect inside the attic to identify raccoon damage.

2 - Remove the Nest of Babies

You have to search around and find the nest of babies, and place them in a pillowcase. Beware of mother raccoon. Also, be aware that she may stash them down a wall.

3 - Remove or Trap the Mother Raccoon

You can get her with a snare pole, but the best method is usually to set the baby raccoons in a cage trap, and catch her that way. Keep the family together when relocating.

4 - Repair the Raccoon Entry Hole

To prevent the problem from happening again, seal shut the entry hole(s)! Also, in the case of raccoons, it's a good idea to repair the damage in the attic and clean it too.

HOW MUCH DOES RACCOON REMOVAL COST? Prices vary depending on the situation. Some jobs are simple, require only one service visit, and might be as low as $100. Some jobs are complex, require multiple service visits, home repairs, attic cleanup, and so on. Prices can also vary by city. To get the best price estimate, call our technician in your area: Click here for a free price quote over the phone in your town.

Information About Raccoons in the Attic

Is there a nest of baby raccoons? Yes. Pretty much every time raccoons are in the attic, it's a single female who has a litter of young. This most commonly happens in the springtime, and the number of young is usually 3-5, and they will stay in the attic for most of the year, until the young are big enough to fend for themselves, at which time they will move out and leave the territory. If you remove just the female raccoon and not the litter of young, you will have a problem. The young may scratch or claw, maybe through the ceiling, or they may starve to death and rot and stink. It is very inhumane to remove a nursing female raccoon and leave the young behind. Read more about nest of baby raccoons in the attic.

What kind of damage is caused by raccoons in the attic? Raccoons cause the most damage in the attic of any animal. Well, not all of them. But many of them, for whatever reason, will tear up ductwork, tear up pipes, rip wires, rip insulation paper, and so on. They are large, and trample down insulation, lowering the R-Value. They always leave feces and urine in the attic, sometimes many large piles of it. Less frequently, they might bring plant matter and nesting material into the attic, chew on wood beams, or even chew on electrical wires for some reason. Some of these activities are unsanitary, and some can cause a risk of fire hazard. In the case of raccoons, the feces can contain raccoon roundworm, which can infect people or pets, and can even be inhaled. Read more about damage from raccoons in the attic.

How do I trap raccoons? The best method is actually to use the nest of babies as "live bait" to catch the adult female. After you remove them, place them in the back of a cage trap with a trap divider, and she will go in. You'll then have the whole family together, and you can relocate them together. That's the best chance of survival for the young. Otherwise, you can bring them to a rehabber. You can also trap raccoons by mounting a trap directly over the entry/exit hole she is using. With heavy steel mesh, she will have no choice but to go in. You could quite possibly trap her with a baited cage trap set outside, either mounted on the roof near the entry hole, or even on the ground near the climing point. But beware, a ground trap can catch any animal in the area. Never place a trap inside an attic - raccoons will NEVER enter there. I don't know why, but it is a guaranteed fact. Never set outside traps if the young are immobile in a nest in the attic. You might not be able to find the young, and then you have a disaster on your hands, in my opinion.. Read more about raccoon trapping and about the best type of raccoon bait to use.

Can't I just use a raccoon repellent? No. In my 15+ years as a wildlife removal professional, I have seen it all: attics filled with strobing lights, blaring radios, ultrasonic sound machines, and every type of over-the-counter repellent, from coyote urine flakes, to ammonia, to the end-all-be-all el cheapo scam, mothballs. I once went into an attic in which a desperate old lady had dumped close to 100 lbs. of mothballs in her attic. The animals don't care! Here's the problem with repellents in general: once a raccoon lives in your attic, and has a nest of babies there, that's it. That's the only option for survival. There is no device, no repellent that will make them leave. Go ahead and buy a raccoon repellent at Home Depot, or a raccoon deterrent device online - waste your time. But they have zero demonstrated effectiveness. Read more about raccoon repellents.

Can I kill the raccoons? Possibly, but it's actually much more difficult than exclusion or trapping. You could set lethal traps by the raccoon holes, but these traps are very difficult to set, not to mention dangerous. And they only get one raccoon at a time, so they are ineffecient. What about poison then? There are no registered rodenticides for raccoons. Raccoons never eat food in an attic, so unlike with rats, they will not consume rat poison. And rat poison is not designed for raccoons, so if they did eat it, they will very likely not die. Also, if you do manage to kill one with poison, the smell of a rotting raccoon is terrible. Any of these attempts are inhumane of course, if you care, which you might not if your top interest is killing them. I understand if you hate the raccoons, and think it's a good strategy to solve a raccoon problem, but seriously, it's a lot more challenging to kill raccoons than to install a one-way exclusion door or mount a trap at the exit hole. And never forget, you have the nest of young to contend with! Read more about killing raccoons.

How do I keep raccoons away from my house? Maybe you want to prevent raccoons from coming to your house, roof, garden, or property in the first place, before they get in the attic. Well, it's hard to keep raccoons away from a property. They can pretty much go wherever they want, and they will, if there's adequate food and water sources. The real key, regarding raccoons in the attic, is to prevent them from getting inside. To do this, you must inspect the house and seal shut any potential raccoon entry holes, with steel, which raccoons can't chew through. Though to be honest, a determined raccoon can get into almost any attic it wants. The real key is to make sure it's not easy for them, so that they pick your neighbor's house, not yours! A good steel chimney cap will prevent Raccoons in a Chimney. There are some hot sauces that can prevent raccoons from chewing on wood and some plants, and you can read more about how to keep raccoons away if you want.

How do I do this myself, for cheap? Follow the 4 steps. First, use a ladder and inspect every inch of your house, especially the roof vents, eave gaps, soffits and soffit vents, etc. It's not too hard to find a raccoon hole. Then inspect inside the attic to find out more clues. Note the time of year. Search the attic for the nest and remove the young by hand and place in a sack. Use the young as bait to trap the adult mother raccoon. Relocate them all together. Or you can mount a one-way trap directly on the hole, with steel mesh forcing the adult in. Or a ground-based or roof based cage trap baited with food. If you do trap the mother separately, be sure to get the young too! If trapping, check the traps diligently, and don't leave a raccoon outside, especially in the sun. Relocate any trapped raccoons at least 10 miles away. Third, after you are sure all the raccoons are out, remove the trap and seal the final hole shut. Fourth, repair any damage in the attic, and clean the feces and urine. Read more about raccoon feces. The whole process is difficult, and it took me a couple of years and dozens of jobs before I got very good at it, but if you are very careful and work hard, you can do it!

How much does raccoon removal cost? It varies by the complexity of the job and by the company doing the work. The job requires several service visits, as outlined above. It will certainly cost at least a few hundred dollars. If you want to find out a ballpark price in your town, click here for your local wildlife pro and call, and they will be able to tell you. Our wildlife experts have special licensing & certification regulated by state wildlife laws, as well as all applicable state and local business licenses. They carry liability insurance, due to risks of climbing on roofs, in attics, dealing with dangerous wildlife, etc. They will perform professional grade repairs which results in a permanent solution so you don't have raccoons again. It is a good investment in your home and protection against further damage. Read more about how much does raccoon removal cost.

The Bottom Line

How to get rid of raccoons in the attic - they are not so easily just "gotten rid of". But they can be properly and effectively removed, and the problem can be prevented from happening again. Remember to follow the steps above, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. It is not easy work, but if you don't remove the raccoons in your attic, they will go on to cause further damage. When you do decide to remove them, please remember to treat the animals with respect, and take the work seriously, and remember about the presence of baby animals in the attic. You can get rid of raccoons in the attic if you follow the correct approach. Best of luck!