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How to keep raccoons out of your yard

About five years ago, a raccoon family sauntered across my yard in the middle of the afternoon. When I tried to shoo them away, they ran under a shed at the side of my house,

A trapper I called set out a trap, but it didn’t work out like I’d planned. The trap caught one of my neighbor’s cats. After the man yelled at me, he’d return at night and spring the trap. The trapper and I gave up. I didn’t see much of the raccoon family after that.

Now, another raccoon family is climbing up my fence to get to the neighbor’s cherry tree. They had a difficult time this evening about dusk. Two youngsters kept falling off the fence.


Here, the mom dropped down off the fence to protect them.

The dad was high up in the tree, and chattered away during much of the ruckus. At one point he squabbled loudly with a cat or dog.


Here the dad’s leaving to follow the rest of his family, which had quietly slipped away.

Raccoons are interesting to watch, but they can be destructive to your property. They dig in vegetable beds, eat fruit off trees and vines, knock down corn, and break into bird feeders. They can also learn to enter your house through a cat or dog door. 

Usually nocturnal, raccoons search for food in the late evening, night, and early morning. They eat a wide variety of foods from fruit, vegetables, eggs, and birds to insects, fish and other aquatic animals, pet food, and garbage.

Adult male raccoons travel territories of three to 20 square miles. Females cover about one to 6 square miles. 

Raccoons live in hollow trees, buildings, drainpipes, brush piles, and abandoned burrows and under decks. 

What can consumers do to discourage raccoon visitors? 

Scare tactics rarely work as raccoons quickly get used to them, reports the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Division. Trapping raccoons isn’t an effective deterrent, but it’s effective at removing a problem animal. However, you need to have a plan for dealing with the animal once it's captured. 

The division has these suggestions for consumers to reduce temptations for raccoons in residential areas:
  • Bring your pet food and water bowls inside at night.
  • Put a net over your fishpond, if it’s small.
  • Have tight-fitting trashcan lids or wire the loose ones shut.
  • Harvest your garden vegetables as soon as they’re ready and pick up fallen fruit promptly.
  • Block foundation vents.
  • Prevent entry into under-deck areas with wooden latticework. Be careful not to trap animals already inside. If an animal is present, close up all but a 12” diameter opening, return at night after the animal has left, and close completely. If a female has babies, you may need to wait until they’ve left – three to seven weeks after birth – to close the area.
  • Trim tree branches away from house and shed roofs.
  • Use an electric “hot” wire around your fishpond, corn patch, or berry vines. A two-wire electric fence, with wires five and 10 inches above ground, is effective.
Let me know in the Comment section below if you’ve had a raccoon problem and were able to solve it.

Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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last night a racoon got in my yard and was fighting with my dogs I need a solution to keep them out and not hurt my dogs

Garden Design Sydney

Raccoons are active in twilight and evening. They prefer relative darkness. Installing motion activated lighting may be helpful in discouraging raccoons. If there's no food in your yard, there's far less reason for raccoons to come around. Don't leave any pet food of any sort out overnight.


Jose, have you followed the suggestions in the post above? If they haven't helped, call your Cooperative Extension Service for additional ideas.

Garden Design Sydney, I've seen raccoons a few times during the day, too.

That's a good suggestion to keep food, especially pet food, out of your yard.

I used to pour spoiled food out on the ground to let it deteriorate. I don't do that anymore. This weekend, I had an expired bottle of corn oil. I dug a hole in the ground and poured it in the hole.



Having problem with racoons defecating on top of small shed & in 3 neighbors yards. Neighbors not happy.(DONT BLAME ME GUYS)
Racoons all over our project.I do not have a garden or bird feeders,garbage is well secured.
City animal control says we have to learn to live together.
Been told to try using coyote urine as repellent.



I have a duck nesting in my frontyard and the racoons always seem to get the eggs before they can hatch.
What can I do??????


Hi Charlotte,

Review the tips in the article above to make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep raccoons. However, this is difficult if your neighbors aren't following the recommendations.

If you're following all of the suggestions and still having raccoon problems, call your local Cooperative Extension Service for additional help.

Here's a link with more suggestions about protecting ducks from raccoons. Among them are using repellant to keep the raccoons away.


I have raccoon issues my children have a pool in back yard and last year the baby raccoons jumped in and started playing and unfortunately the pool was vinyl and they made a hole. Testerday the raccoon came and started playing on the pool that was covered again it was vinyl please help.


Hi Norma,

Getting rid of raccoons is tough. Follow the tips in the article above such getting rid of any food sources and boarding up anyplace they could be living.

If the plastic pool you are talking about is a small one that children use, empty it every night and put it in the garage.

You may also want to talk with your neighbors. Print out a copy of my article and ask them to take precautions to get rid of raccoons.

The problem in my neighborhood is there is a house that no one has lived in for years. Family of the owners come every few months to look after the place. However, they aren't doing a good job of boarding up places where raccoons live. So we have raccoons. I saw one the other night when I was pruning my rhododendrons.

I tried hiring a trapper once when I saw a raccoon family during the day that looked like they wanted to make a home under my garden shed, but that didn't work. A neighbor's cat got in the trap and,after that, he came in the middle of the night every night and sprang the trap.

Contact the Cooperative Extension Service in your area for more ideas and ideas specific to your area.



Security lighting doesn't work, nor does using dried blood, both of which I was told was highly effective. As mentioned above, trapping also does not work since they will, at some point, find their way back, or others will take their place. I am now considering sitting out all night with a pellet gun! (just kidding!)


Hi emme,

Yes, raccoons are a problem. I'm getting a lot of hits on this article.



2 years ago one very large one attacked my dog and bit my son who was trying to save it with my husband. Since my son had to endure extremely expensive rabies shots.. we have only taken the dog out on a leash first to look over the yard first to make sure there are no raccoons, then we would let our dog run free. However, it has happened a few times where we did this, but then we relocated to one side of the house where one patio is and the dog would smell the raccoon and run to the other side of the house, as the raccoons were walking along the fence. I have seen the numerous times out at 7AM 12NOON 2PM and in the evenings. It didn't use to be that way.. they use to be just out in the evening. But now that they are unpredictable, it's very scary. I have sprayed all around with amonia, but I don't know if that works very long. I know they live all around in neighbors yards under decks and neighbors do feed them, and they won't stop. I've tried to contact many different organisations to try and help, but no one will do anything. Many people have had trappers come, only to let the raccoon free, but they do come back. and it gets very expensive to do that. Any other suggestions???


Raccoons are nocturnal animals. If you see them in the daylight hours, it's a pretty good sign that they are rabid. Do not approach them. If rabid, they will be acting very brazen, unafraid, disoriented, dizzy, and just strange. Call the local police who are supposed to alert the local game wardens. We have rabid raccoons in my area and I'm in the country. I have begun taking cat food before dusk. I keep a porch light on, but it doesn't help at all.

Augie Snyder

it's not true that if you see raccoons in the daytime that they are rabid. unless they are moving slowly, without purpose, wobbly and even fall over, they are not sick, they just did not have time to get enough food during the night, or it can be a pregnant female who is still hungry or a mom raccoon that spent more time hurding her kits than eating so she's still hungry.
also, don't relocate raccoons. it's unfair to the raccoons in the new location because they will have more raccoons to compete for finding food. we've invaded their habitat and then we want them to leave. it's unfortunate for both humans and the raccoons.




Hi Mari,

Ammonia will brown out the grass until next year. I wouldn't try it.



i feed my female raccoon because she had babys i thing i made a mistake hope not


Hi Dolores,

You shouldn't feed wildlife. By feeding racoons, you'll encourage them to come into your yard. You don't them in your yard. As the article above says, racoons dig in vegetable beds, eat fruit off trees and vines, knock down corn, and break into bird feeders. They can also learn to enter your house through a cat or dog door.


Rona Terburg

If you look up "Baylisacaris", you will find cases of this horrible raccoon nematode killing mostly children by causing encephalitis. There is NO cure and it is usually only detected on autopsy! We have been plagued with raccoons and their messes for decades here in Utah. We've trapped & shot well over 100. We get VERY LITTLE TO NO help from our city or county. My husband & I have cleaned up unbelievable amounts of their feces: out of rain gutters, off of the roof, THE DECK WHERE MY GRAND KIDS PLAY, rail road ties and other places in my yard. We never get to eat our cherries as the coons strip the tree right before the fruit is ripe. WE ARE DESPERATE FOR HELP! I find nothing 'cute' about these rodents at all.

Rona Terburg

I need to 'rant' longer :) We live in the mouth of Farmington Canyon, farmington, Utah. We have discovered that people trap coons in the low part of the city and relocate them, where they end up in our yard and dig 5 inch wide & 5 inch deep holes all over my lawn. They feast on our mulberry tree, the adults breaking off branches & dropping them down to the babies. Some mornings I can't believe how many branches they've dropped!
We finally solved the mystery of where our hummingbird nectar was night I stepped out onto our deck (I have had a raccoon run past me & brush my leg with it's fur) and saw a huge adult balancing on it's 2 back legs holding onto the feeder & sipping it dry. Unbelievable. I'll bet they drank a 25 lb. bag of sugar before we figured it out.
It is unfair that these rodents got placed in the Rocky Mountains where they are not native and they really don't have a food source. We have heard that they were brought in from the East to train dogs. We've also heard that they were introduced just on a whim--someone thought they would be a good addition.....
I can't really describe how sick I am of them and their destruction. We have 8 little grand kids who LOVE to play in our back yard. We have a little tree house with a zip line. The coons crapped all over the tree house. I'm not even sure I can properly clean wood surfaces... I'm not sure they haven't been in our covered sandbox or handled the sand toys my grand kids love to play with.
These rodents are out of control and we are thinking of going to our City meeting and trying to get someone to see that we need help eradicating them.


Mix fly bait and cherry coke, put outside in saucer, in couple days there will be no animals left in your yard. Make sure anything you don't want dead stays away from it.

.Angela Karoly

I live in a city area and just tonight I was outside with my dog and she ran to the back of the yard and I thought she was fighting with a cat I got there there with a flashlight and she was fighting with two raccoons! I have never seen raccoons in our area and I'm not sure what to do to get rid of them without hurting my dog I did read all of your tips and our yard is free of food and other things to attract the raccoons. we do not have a garden but we do have a flower bed. These were big raccoons and even though my dog has had all of her shots I am still afraid that they may hurt her. I didn't know what to do, I could still see them up in my neighbor's tree. Their eyes were glowing when I shined my flashlight. I wandered up spring bug spray in the general area that I saw them, and I have not heard them since. I have been sitting outside for about an hour with the dog & she has not reacted to them so I think that they are gone for now at least. I'm very worried about my dog though. Any advice that you can give me that will keep them away without harming my dog would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much


Hi Angela,

It's good that you were outside with your dog and saw that it was having an encounter with racoons.

The Humane Society of the United States has tips on racoons and pets. Here's a link to their webpage on it.

I hope you don't have any more problems.

I haven't seen racoons in my yard for quite a while. I'm glad about that.



We had four raccoons in our back yard. We were worried about our little dogs getting hurt. So we used coyotes pee. Just put it all over your yard. It seemed to work.

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