To keep raccoons from using your downspouts to reach your roof and attic, make your downspouts impossible to climb. You can glue anti-bird spikes to the downspout to prevent climbing, add a metal baffle, or even apply grease to the downspout. It’s also essential to inspect your roof and attic if you notice raccoons climbing your downspout. Raccoons may have found access and made a home in your attic. To keep raccoons away, trim back tree branches that overhang your roof, remove all raccoon food sources from the yard, and humanely trap any raccoons that have invaded your property.
7 Methods to Keep Raccoons From Climbing Your Downspouts
Raccoons climbing your downspouts often leave a trail of dirty paw prints that are easy to spot on white aluminum. Not only are these animals making a mess of your home, but it’s also very likely they are looking for a way to break in and make a den in your attic. To thwart these pests without harming or killing them, use these methods:
Install Pest Spikes to Prevent Climbing
Raccoons climb downspouts by hugging the downspout and working their way up. To prevent this activity, glue pest spikes in vertical strips on 3 sides of your downspouts. These spikes are meant to stop birds from landing on surfaces, but they work great to stop climbing raccoons. To use them:
- Use this pest spike kit with included adhesive.
- Glue strips of spikes to 3 sides of the downspout.
- Glue the spikes at a point at least 3 feet (1 meter) above any surface the raccoon can leap from onto the downspout. This includes porch roofs, tree limbs, and windowsills.
Make sure the spikes are set at a place that is high enough that the raccoon cannot circumvent the spikes by reaching a point on the downspout above your spike placement. Raccoons are excellent climbers and great leapers. Don’t underestimate them.
Baffles are disc-shaped pieces of metal or plastic that extend like an upside-down saucer around your downspout. They physically prevent raccoons from climbing. Because your downspouts are up against your house, a typical wrap-around baffle meant to stop raccoons from climbing deck posts or bird feeders may have to be modified to fit your downspout.
- Climb-proof baffles like this one are readily available.
- Because downspouts are typically against your house, you may have to trim one in order to fit your downspout.
- Set baffles high enough that raccoons cannot leap onto your downspout above the baffle.
By modifying a baffle you can stop raccoons from climbing high enough to reach your roof. Raccoons won’t be able to work their way around a baffle and continue climbing.
Grease Your Downspouts
Apply automotive grease to a 24-inch (60 cm) section of your downspout to keep raccoons from climbing up to the gutter. Because raccoons have to hug downspouts to climb them and can’t get any purchase with their claws, a section of greased downspout will cause them to slide downwards.
- Spread automotive grease or similar non-food grease to a 24-inch (60 cm) section of downspout.
- Apply grease to all four sides of the downspout.
- Make sure grease is applied to a high point on the downspout, for best effectiveness and to prevent coming into contact with it yourself.
To make sure you don’t accidentally put your hand on a greased downspout while working on your home, make sure to grease a section of the downspout that is out of reach of the ground.
Inspect Your Attic
Raccoons climb downspouts in search of shelter. If there are signs of frequent raccoon use on your downspout, it’s likely that raccoons have already found an access point to your attic. In this case, call animal control for safe removal. If raccoons have made a home in your attic, there’s a very high chance that they have already produced a litter of baby raccoons. Preventing raccoons from climbing to their babies or removing the adults through humane trapping is a death sentence for the young raccoons.
- Look for signs of repeated raccoon climbing on your downspouts. This is often shown by dirty paw prints.
- If raccoons are climbing your downspouts, they have likely made a home in your attic and have a litter of babies.
- Call animal control to safely remove adult raccoons and their young.
- After the raccoons have been removed, use metal mesh to raccoon-proof any entrances to the attic, such as soffits, vents, and chimneys.
Once you are certain there are no young raccoons in your attic, install wire mesh over any entrances raccoons could use to get into your attic. This may require installing mesh behind attic vents or at the top of open chimneys. If raccoons can’t get into your home, they’ll give up and look for a different location to make their den. They’re either climbing your downspouts because they’ve already moved in or because they’re searching for an entry point.
Trim Back Trees
Keep raccoons off your downspouts, gutters, and roof, by trimming back any tree limbs that overhang your home. Tree limbs should be at least 3 feet away (1 meter) from the roof. If you don’t do this, raccoons may use tree limbs to circumvent your downspout defenses and find a new route onto your roof.
- Trim tree limbs that overhang your roof and gutters.
- Tree limbs should be no closer than 3 feet (1 meter) from your roof’s edge.
Once a raccoon has made a den in your attic, it will attempt to return to it any way it can. Remember, raccoons are extremely clever and stubborn.
Clean Up Your Yard
Raccoons are drawn to your home by the promise of easy food. If they’ve chosen to begin climbing your downspouts, it’s likely because your property makes an inviting home base for them. To drive raccoons out and keep them from coming back, remove all food sources from your yard. To do this:
- Seal trash in garbage cans and lock them with padlocks or heavy-duty bungee cords.
- Move all pet food indoors.
- Clean up any fallen fruit or nuts in your yard.
- Lock any compost-containing food waste in raccoon-proof containers.
If your yard doesn’t have any food for raccoons, that gives them much less of a reason to visit it. A yard that’s devoid of elements that attract raccoons is far less likely to be infested by critters that climb your downspouts.
Set a Humane Trap
Adult raccoons can be safely trapped with a humane cage trap that won’t harm the raccoon. Once trapped, transport and release the raccoon in a nature center or state forest. However, only do this in cases where you are certain the raccoon does not have a litter of young in your attic. Removing a mother raccoon means the baby raccoons in your attic will starve and die.
- Use this humane trap to capture raccoons in your yard.
- Release trapped raccoons in a nature center or forest far from human habitation.
- Only trap adult raccoons if you are 100% certain there is not a litter of baby raccoons in your attic.
- Raccoons respond to many baits. Pet food and cookies are common favorites.
In most cases, the best bait for raccoons is the type of food they’re already finding in your yard or garbage cans. If they arrived to raid pet food, a dish of your dog’s kibble works as excellent bait.
Raccoon Deterrents That Don’t Work
Several miracle raccoon repellents are advertised as solutions to a raccoon invasion. Several of these methods will not work, while some are even dangerous or illegal.
- Sound Emitters: Attempting to repel raccoons by using a high-frequency sound emitter seldom works. Raccoons will ignore this noise and climb your downspouts anyway.
- Scent Repellents: Similar to sound emitters, there isn’t a scent that is reliably strong enough to keep a raccoon from climbing to your roof if it’s already made a home there.
- Deadly Methods: Those that suggest shooting, trapping, or poisoning raccoons are advising methods that are inhumane and may be illegal.
Above all, look for a permanent solution. If you don’t raccoon-proof your home and downspouts, a new raccoon might move in after you’ve driven off or killed its predecessor.
How to Stop Raccoons From Climbing Your Gutter Downspouts
The best way to stop raccoons from scaling your downspouts to reach the roof are:
- Install anti-bird spikes on your downspouts.
- Attach anti-climbing baffles to your downspouts.
- Grease a 24-inch section of your downspout.
- Inspect the roof and attic for signs raccoons have moved in, have raccoons professionally removed, and seal any exterior entrances used by raccoons.
- Trim tree limbs that overhang your roof, to prevent alternate means of climbing.
- Clean up your yard to remove food sources that attract raccoons.
- Humanely trap and release raccoons.
Always keep in mind the best anti-raccoon solution is one that removes the current invaders and prevents a new raccoon family from moving in. Once you are sure all the raccoons have been safely removed from your home, raccoon-proof your downspouts to prevent any other animals from climbing them.