Solved! Here’s What to Do About a Raccoon in the Attic
A raccoon can cause significant damage to a home. Discover how to get rid of raccoons in the attic and how to prevent future infestations.
Q: Something is moving around in my attic, and I think it may be a raccoon. How do I get rid of a raccoon in the attic?
A: Raccoons in the attic are a common problem for homeowners. Garbage or food left outdoors can lure a raccoon to the property, and the animal may then seek shelter in a garage or attic. Raccoons don’t just cause a mess and make noise; they also carry diseases that can be transmitted to people and their pets. Whether homeowners are looking for how to get rid of raccoons under the house or in the attic, here’s a guide to dealing with these furry fiends.
A wildlife removal company can efficiently and humanely get a raccoon out of the attic.
The best way to get rid of unwanted critters is by hiring a professional. One of the best wildlife removal services handles all the burden of getting rid of critters like raccoons, possums, and squirrels. They’ll come into a home, investigate the problem, and then safely and humanely remove the pests. Removal companies never use pesticides or other toxins to remove critters. They remove the animals themselves, then make recommendations and perform repairs to prevent future infestations. While it is possible for a homeowner to remove raccoons themselves, they run the risk of injuring themselves or the animal.
“Raccoons are very dangerous to interact with,” explains Meg Pearson, training manager at Critter Control, a humane nuisance wildlife removal company specializing in raccoon removal, among other animals. “Though they are typically shy animals that retreat when they sense nearby humans, many of them are growing more and more accustomed to human interaction, as their natural habitats are threatened and decreased.”
She goes on to explain that “They are most likely to behave aggressively if backed into a corner or are in a situation where they are protecting their young. Before attacking, they will try to intimidate you by rounding their backs, sticking their fur out, elevating their tails, jumping repeatedly, and showing off their claws. They’ll also growl, hiss, and shriek at you, in an effort to get you to back off, before they’re forced to physically engage. Even if a raccoon seems cute and friendly, homeowners should never approach them inside or outside their home. At the first sign of a raccoon intrusion, it is recommended to reach out to a wildlife control professional right away.”
Raccoons can find their way into a home through very small gaps—as little as 4 inches wide.
It doesn’t take much for a raccoon to enter a home. Raccoons can squeeze their way through very tight spaces, as little as 4 inches wide. They can find their way into an attic through different building materials, such as a vent or shingles. Along their way in, they can cause significant structural damage to a home by pulling apart ducts and roofing to get inside. Once the raccoon is in the house, it can cause further raccoon attic damage by destroying insulation, wiring, and items in storage. The feces and urine they leave behind can also damage items or spread disease to humans and pets.
“Raccoons will use their intelligence and know where to use their strength to exploit your home’s weaknesses; their paws allow them to grip and rip into materials commonly found on homes,” says Pearson. “They can tear up the shingles in your roof to get into your attic and, once inside, they can destroy vents, soffits, insulation, and much more while establishing their dens.”
Protection from the elements and food can lure a raccoon near or into a home.
Raccoons often enter a home for two reasons: protection from outdoor elements and food. Mother raccoons especially will seek shelter if they are caring for newborns. An attic offers raccoons a cool, dry, and comfortable place to live. When a storm or other inclement weather conditions drive a raccoon into a home, they may get so comfortable that they’ll stay.
Food is another factor that lures raccoons into a home. Raccoons have highly sensitive noses, which is why they are often found going through trash looking for food. If a raccoon is locked in on a particular smell, it’ll follow it into a home. Not knowing where it’s headed, it may accidentally get trapped inside an attic looking for the odor.
“Raccoons, like most animals, are attracted to homes and yards that provide a source of food or shelter,” says Pearson. “Raccoons are omnivorous and are not picky when it comes to food. Raccoons will gladly take garbage and other waste that can oftentimes be found around homes. If you have any easily-accessible sources of food in your yard, such as vegetables gardens, compost, outdoor pet food dishes, or, most famously, unsecured trash cans, it is likely you will run into nuisance raccoon issues at some point.”
Homeowners with an infestation may wonder, “Will raccoons leave on their own?” Generally speaking, these pests won’t leave without intervention because they have found food and shelter in the home, allowing them to avoid their natural predators during scavenging.
Signs of raccoons include footsteps, scratching noises, pawprints, and scratch marks.
Raccoons in the attic often leave several signs of their presence. As one of the largest animals that infest homes, their size and weight make their footsteps audible when moving across the attic. Unlike squirrels, which may sound like light scurrying, a raccoon in the attic sounds like thumping, similar to the weight of a child’s steps. The creatures may also shout out a high-pitched cry, especially if mothers are separated from their babies.
Because raccoons are nocturnal animals, homeowners may sleep through raccoon sounds. However, the critters also leave visual evidence for homeowners to investigate. With their sharp teeth and claws, raccoons will chew and scratch through home structures. If the raccoon feels trapped in the attic, they will panic and destroy everything in their way trying to get out.
“The telltale sign is damaged or overturned garbage cans, garden damage, or holes in your yard,” explains Pearson. “Homeowners can also find damage on the siding of their house, in the eaves, soffit, and along the roof.”
Homeowners can attempt to deter raccoons with loud noises or bright lights.
Raccoons dislike loud noises and bright lights. Installing an ultrasound animal repeller will keep raccoons and other critters away from a home. These devices transmit sounds inaudible to human ears but are unpleasant to certain animals. Additionally, a motion detector that emits bright lights will also scare and deter raccoons.
“Deterrents can be hit or miss; it all depends on the raccoon,” warns Pearson. “Remember: these are very intelligent animals; what works to deter them one day might not work the next. If they want to get into your house, they might try several different ways and look for many different entrance points, so deterrents, both natural and man-made, might not always be effective.” For this reason, it’s usually best to leave raccoon removal to the professionals.
Raccoons can carry rabies and may attack if they feel threatened, so it’s not recommended to handle or remove them on your own.
While a homeowner may know how to get raccoons out of the attic, this task is best left to a professional. Raccoons are creatures that attack when they feel threatened. Picking one up may result in it clawing, biting, and injuring a person. Not only can the animals cause significant scratches, but because raccoons often carry disease, they may transmit rabies or other infections through the injuries they cause. A professional removal service knows how to properly handle the raccoon without harming it or themselves. They are also updated on all the necessary shots and vaccines to protect them from disease.
Once the raccoon is removed, seal all entry points and eliminate anything that could attract a raccoon to your yard.
After removing the raccoon, homeowners should ensure that all the entry points that a raccoon could enter are secured. This may involve having a contractor inspect the house and seal them. “Seal all vulnerable areas such as roof returns, any loose soffit, and holes that a raccoon might see as a way to enter your home,” advises Pearson.
In areas with a high population of raccoons, homeowners also need to make sure that their garbage is secure. Raccoons often will tamper with trash cans while looking for food. This may lead them further inside, causing them to get stuck in an attic.