If you suspect raccoons have invaded your attic, first check for baby raccoons. If there are babies, you should hire a wildlife removal expert to relocate the mother and her young humanely. If you have only adult raccoons in your attic, install a one-way door designed to let the raccoons out without allowing them back in. Alternatively, you may trap and release raccoons using a humane trap. You must consult with a wildlife expert in your area before trying the trap-and-release method to determine where you are allowed to release raccoons.
Table of Contents
4 Steps to Get Raccoons Out of Your Attic
Raccoons in your attic can be destructive, messy, and smelly. To prevent damage to your home and to keep your family and pets safe from wildlife encounters, it’s essential to take steps to safely relocate the raccoons without harming them. If you hear raccoons scrabbling around in your attic, here’s what to do:
Check for Pups
When there’s a raccoon in your attic, it is most likely a female who wants a safe place to give birth and raise her babies. Most raccoons have pups in spring, between April and May, but they can have litters as late as August. If you have a raccoon in your attic in spring or summer, you must check thoroughly for pups before you attempt to remove the adults. Trapping the mother without checking for babies could result in starving, dead raccoon pups in your attic.
- Inspect your attic for baby raccoons, or set up a motion-detecting night-vision camera to see if there are babies.
- If there are baby raccoons in your attic—or if you are unsure—hire a humane trap-and-release wildlife removal service to ensure that the mother and babies are removed and reunited properly.
- We do not recommend removing pups yourself because this can be a long and hazardous process.
- If there are no pups in your attic, use the techniques we cover later in this article to get raccoons out of your home.
If someone other than an expert attempts to remove baby raccoons, it almost always leads to the separation of the mother and some of her pups. Young raccoons rely on their mother for up to one year after being born and cannot survive without her. This is why we highly recommend hiring a professional to remove a raccoon family from your attic.
Install One-Way Doors
Wildlife excluders (also known as one-way doors) are a great tool for getting raccoons out of an attic. These should only be used when all the raccoons in your attic are adults, since babies cannot use them to get out on their own. A one-way door is installed at the point where raccoons enter. It allows them to leave the attic but prevents them from getting back in.
- This one-way door can be installed to let raccoons leave your attic, but stop them from coming back in.
- Begin by finding the entrance raccoons are using to enter and leave your attic.
- Raccoon entrances are often marked with dirt where the animals squeeze through gaps along your roof, soffits, or chimney.
- Once you have identified the entrance raccoons are using, install the one-way door there, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Since the raccoon entry point is likely on or near the roof, use proper safety equipment when installing a wildlife excluder.
- Consult a wildlife removal expert who can help you choose and install the one-way door.
It’s a good idea to hire a professional to install the one-way door for you, since it typically involves using a ladder or working on your roof. If you are inexperienced at this type of work, do not have an assistant to help with the job, or do not have the required tools, contact a wildlife removal expert for help.
Trap and Release
The hands-on approach to getting raccoons out of your attic is trapping them and releasing them yourself. For this approach, use a cage trap baited with dog food, boiled eggs, or fruit. Place the baited cage trap inside the attic to lure the raccoon inside. Check the trap frequently to see if a raccoon has been trapped. Then, transport the trapped raccoon to a wildlife area and release it. Trapping and releasing raccoons may be illegal in your area, so review your local laws before you try this method.
- Check local laws to see if you can legally trap and release raccoons in your area.
- Choose a release location that meets legal criteria prior to setting the trap.
- Bait this humane cage trap with pet food, a hard-boiled egg, or sweet fruit.
- Check the trap in the early morning and every 2 hours during the day so you can relocate the raccoon soon after it is caught.
- Once the raccoon is captured, you can calm it somewhat by placing a large towel or blanket over the trap for transport.
- Wear thick safety gloves, like these, to protect yourself when attempting to release an adult raccoon.
- Take the trapped raccoon to the release site, keeping a covering on the trap to reduce the raccoon’s stress and fear.
- Gently place the covered trap onto the ground in a peaceful location with trees nearby. Open the door to the trap, remove the covering on it, and back away. This allows the raccoon to leave without feeling threatened.
Contact wildlife experts such as the Department of Natural Resources where you live to get important information about where and when you are legally allowed to release trapped raccoons. They may even help you to relocate the raccoons. Always obey the law. If you find that laws prohibit the trap and release of raccoons where you live, call a wildlife removal service or try a one-way door if you have not already.
Clean Up After the Raccoons are Gone
It is essential to clean your attic after the raccoons have been removed. Raccoons can carry several diseases that are contagious to people and pets. The best option for cleaning up after raccoons is to hire a service since they will have the necessary equipment and knowledge to thoroughly decontaminate your attic. If you are determined to clean up the mess yourself, follow these steps:
- Wear disposable PPE such as shoe covers, nitrile gloves, and a face mask.
- Use a shovel or similar tool to collect raccoon droppings and other mess left behind. Place this material into heavy-duty trash bags.
- Seal the bags and double-bag if you notice holes or suspect there is waste on the outside of a bag.
- Place the trash bags in a garbage collection bin or dumpster.
- Clean the surfaces of your attic with hot, soapy water. Add a few ounces of bleach to increase the decontamination power of the mix.
It is safest and most convenient to have your attic cleaned by professionals. If you do clean the waste yourself, throw away all the disposable PPE you used in trash bags and seal them. Use hot water to wash any non-disposable clothing you wore to clean the attic. Shower immediately after you are finished cleaning the attic. This will help keep you safe from the pests and parasites some raccoons carry.
How Do You Keep Raccoons Out of Your Attic?
Once your attic is raccoon-free, you’ll want to keep it that way. If you opted for the exclusion technique, the one-way door will help keep raccoons from entering your home in that particular spot. However, there may be weak points in the attic for raccoons to exploit in the future. So, it’s best to take these steps:
- Carefully inspect your attic, or hire someone to do so, to determine potential raccoon entry points.
- Raccoons often create entrances in places where two building materials meet, such as where the roof meets a wall or around plastic soffits and eaves.
- Seal off or reinforce areas that may allow raccoons access to your attic.
- Reassess your attic annually to make sure raccoons cannot enter to nest in the attic.
- Make your property less appealing to raccoons by sealing trash containers, storing all pet food indoors, and trimming back tree branches that overhang your roof.
Preventing raccoons from getting into your attic in the first place is ideal. It helps you avoid the stress of removing them and cleaning up after. It’s a good idea to hire a wildlife expert to thoroughly inspect your attic so you can reinforce weak points and keep the raccoons out.
What Should You Do if You Have Raccoons In Your Attic?
Raccoons in the attic should be removed immediately for the safety of your family and the raccoons. Here’s how it should be done:
- If there are baby raccoons, call a wildlife removal service to humanely relocate them and their mother.
- If you’re dealing with adult raccoons only, try to determine how they got into your attic.
- Install a one-way door in the spot from which raccoons are coming and going. This will let raccoons leave but prevent them from getting back in.
- Use a humane cage trap baited with pet food to capture raccoons in your attic. Then, release them into the wild.
- Clean up your attic using disposable gloves and seal trash bags that you put raccoon waste in.
- Prevent more raccoons from entering your attic by sealing holes or reinforcing weak spots in your attic.
Wildlife occupying your attic can cause a lot of home damage and leave behind biohazardous waste. Check your local laws to see what raccoon removal methods are legal in your area. Then, contact a professional to capture the raccoons, or safely remove the raccoons yourself.