How to Protect Your Home from Raccoon Damage

Raccoon climbing onto a porch.
Raccoon climbing onto a porch.

The arrival of spring melts snow, grows flowers, warms the weather, and brings baby animals – including raccoons. You might find adult raccoons and their young cute . . . until they move from their natural home into yours!

Why Woodland Friends Turned Foe

Raccoons are highly adaptable to urban and suburban situations, so your home can easily become a substitute den site. During spring the adult female will be looking for a safe place for her young to be born and grow. Your attic and wall spaces provide enough out-of-the-way nooks and crannies for a mother raccoon to hide her young.

Raccoons aren’t out to ruin your home; they just need a place to stay. And while there are plenty of natural options for raccoon den sites, your home may be an easy alternative. If your house isn’t secure against these furry intruders, it may become just what they were looking for – a place to rear young.

Raccoon with a plastic garbage bag.
An open garbage can looks like a fee buffet to a raccoon.

Signs of Raccoon Damage

There are some things that you can keep an eye out for when it comes to raccoon damage to your home, clues that let you know that you are in fact dealing with a raccoon and not something else. Knowing the signs will help you make the best decisions for reclaiming your home from animal intruders such as raccoons.

Signs of raccoon damage to your home include:

    Raccoons taking up residence.
    Raccoons taking up residence.

  • Damage will most likely take place in the attic.
  • Look for torn soffits under eaves, broken or chewed eave fascia boards, roof shingles torn away near vents, or broken attic vents.
  • Droppings may be found in a central location on the roof, known as a raccoon latrine, or inside the attic.
  • Inside the attic you may find flattened insulation, flexible ducts that have been ripped apart, and chewed wiring. This means insulation that doesn’t insulate, and damaged wiring that can cause a fire.

Preventing Raccoon Damage

There are several preventative measures that you can initiate in order to discourage raccoons from choosing your home as a den site.

Food is a big reason raccoons set up shop at your house. If there is a constant food supply nearby, then the raccoons won’t want to travel far away from that food source. Sources of food around the neighborhood could come in the form of garbage, bird feed, and pet food. All of these foods are perfect wildlife attractants.

To reduce or eliminate food sources for raccoons:

  • Keep garbage in secured trashcans with a thick lid and a weight or pressure straps on top. Thin plastic lids can be chewed and broken.
  • Install baffles on bird feeder poles to prevent raccoons from climbing up them.
  • Raccoon kit removed from home.
    Raccoon kit removed from home.
  • Install a tray on bird feeder poles 6’’ or so below the feeder to catch any dropped seed. The tray should be round with a hole in the center for the pole and be large enough to catch the seed, since seed on the ground is just as attractive to raccoons as seed in the feeder.
  • Be sure that there aren’t any trees or structures near the bird feeder from which a raccoon could jump to the feeder. If there are, relocate the feeder.
  • Take any outdoor pet food in at night. Pet food can attract anything from mice to raccoons to skunks!
  • Cut trees back 6’ to 8’ away from your home to prevent access to the roof.
  • Metal flashing can be applied to wooden beams and house corners to prevent climbing.

You may also want to check around your home for aging construction and unsecured openings where a raccoon could create an entrance. Be sure that any repairs are sturdy. Raccoons are strong animals with very hand-like, dexterous front paws.

What a Wildlife Professional Can Do

There are people out there that do wildlife damage control for a living, including:

  • Inspect homes for signs of damage.
  • Trap and removing nuisance animals.
  • Repair damage to your home.
  • Answer questions about wildlife biology.
  • Clean and deodorize your home.

While animal control may sound like it would get old over time, it never does. Wildlife can always find a way to surprise a person.

Raccoon trapped at home.
Raccoon trapped at home.
Mark E. Dotson, CEO of A All Animal Control, once answered a call about an animal making noises in a homeowner’s attic and wall. When he inspected the home, he could hear cooing sounds coming from the wall. He suspected that a baby raccoon had fallen down between the wall studs, and the only way to retrieve it was to cut a small hole and extract it.

After removing the raccoon kit, Dotson discovered that – to his surprise – the adult female raccoon had gotten stuck in the wall, too. A raccoon kit is easy enough to remove, but a growling, snapping adult raccoon was a whole different story. Fortunately, he was able to grasp the raccoon with his animal gloves, and put it in a cage, keeping his fingers intact!

Wildlife removal can be tricky business. That’s why it’s important to take preventative measures to keep wildlife outside the home. Keep yourself and the wildlife safe by taking the preventative measures above.

If all else fails, there are many wildlife professionals available, such as those with A All Animal Control, that can help you. This is where those damage clues come in handy. The more details that you can give to wildlife professionals, the better prepared they will be for the task at hand, and save you money on return trips.

19 COMMENTS

  1. One important factor that homeowners with unwelcome raccoon tenants should be aware of, is that they forage OUTSIDE the “den” at night. DIY efforts to evict them will be much less complicated knowing they are gone from dusk till dawn. Sometimes simply blocking their entrance securely will give THEM the surprise when they attempt to come home in the morning.

  2. Blocking their entrance is ***NOT*** going to work – coons are of the BEAR family with very strong claws and will simply rip your shingles out to access her babies. HIRE a trapper; or, at the very least, put a trap up there baited with marshmallows and cat food–call animal control and seek their advice how to dispose of the vermin. I wouldn’t handle her babies because they might have rabies or other diseases. They too will have to be disposed of.

  3. PS: If you have coons in your attic you are in very deep trouble because of the roof damage. You may have to get their entire roof redone. Hire a roofer – you are going to need them and be prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars. Be mindful coons can also CHEW into your wiring and cause fires so you better ALSO call an electrician and have a TOTAL INSPECTION of your home’s wiring. You may have some exposed wires that can cause fire.

  4. I have never had raccoons in the attic. but they have torn the shingles off the same spot on the roof several time. What is it about that spot that attracts them and is there something I can spray or coat that area to get them to go away?

  5. Four years ago we trapped 3 raccoon in the attic and fixed the hole and shingles. Two years ago we were able to place a metal strip where the raccoons were trying to get in again. This week we caught one raccoon in a trap placed on the roof. These three encounters happened in the same location all three times. We have an overhead power line located just below where the raccoons come in. What can be done to prevent this situation in the future? Why do they pick the same place each time?

  6. One of the best ways to protect your home from raccoon damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
    I highly recommend using De-Fence spikes, they are spike strips that you can glue or screw on your fence, and the raccoons just wont be able to pass through. It doesnt harm them, just causes discomfort so they wont go into your property. Ever since I’ve installed my de-fence spikes 2 months ago, the coons have not even come to eat my garbage or bird feed

  7. I live in an apartment on the 1st floor of an apartment bldg. I have a cat and a screened in patio. The first time a raccoon came in it stayed on the patio where I had a bag of dry cat food. The apt. owner patched the screen and I threw out the food. This time I was in my bathroom and heard a lot of noise and thought it was my cat getting into a bag of candy. When I came from bathroom my pantry doors were open and bags pulled out. A box of crackers had been torn open and crushed all over the floor. I located my 20 year old cat and she was sound asleep on my bed. Then I wondered it it was the raccoon again. Sure enough the outer screen was torn open and I had left the sliding door open as I was enjoying the breeze. I hurried and shut the sliding door. The raccoon came in and was trying to get in again while I was standing at the door. It is not afraid of humans. I wonder what would have happened if I had walked in the room or my cat would have. He probably would have attacked us. Any suggestions what I can do. The owner of apt. came and put up 5′ high plywood barrier on screened patio.. I don’t know if it is permanent – any suggestions????

  8. we have raccoons or possums chewing on the winter cover of our water faucets. they chewed the styrofoam ones enough that we replaced them with hard plastic ones..which the little buggers turn and manipulate enough to take off the faucet. how can we thwart this sort of activity?? thanks!

  9. Lol, Raccoons are NOT in the bear family! They are strong, but they can not rip apart roofing material, they usually do not chew through wood either.. They chew, but are not going to spend time chewing on intact roofs. They are far more likely to access roofs by enlarging existing holes caused by woodpeckers, termites, weather damage, etc. I am a wildlife rehabber and wildlife biologist. Raccoons are just a part of home ownership, as dealing with a lot of wildlife is. One thing I find people don’t realize is that new neighborhoods are big for “nuisance” animals. You just built your home where theirs used to be (trees), of course they are going to be in the area! The best thing once you have a raccoon issue is to get a PROFESSIONAL roofer to repair all holes in the roof (good to have roofs inspected regularly to prevent any animals from entering), remove what brought them in the in first place (ie-trees, berries on the roof, musky smelling things in the attic, etc). Most raccoons will move along once they realize their easy access is gone. For the determined ones, coyote urine is a good deterant since they will not feel safe enough to go into the area and this is available for purchase online and in stores like Lowes and Home Depot. You can also put mothballs in the attic for snakes and raccoons, but they don’t work as well in the yard. For screen in porches, using hardware cloth or chicken wire around the lower portions usually is good enough. Scare strips usually don’t work on raccoons, they like shiny things and will usually steal your deterant and take it back to their den to play with it. Using motion sensor lights is also good for porches, the sudden light scares them. Raccoons are VERY smart so over time you may have to change up your approach, but they are just looking for food most often and removing that will prevent issues. If they are on your roof, you may want to check if there are berries/fruit/bark that fall on your roof enticing them to go up and get it. Doing a powerwash of your roof can help remove any urination that may mark the spot for other raccoons to find. Also, digging in the yard is signs of Armadillos, not raccoons.

  10. i Have just had someone tell me that Racoons have torn a hole in my roof in Nova Scotia , this is a rubber shingle roof, with chip board underneath. Is this possible, there is no food in the house and no one in it for years on end!

    Damage bill was $2200 to have it all repaired! They said they did damage to the ceiling inside the house as well as the roof!

    It seams hard to believe!

  11. I am being told that the critter removal company cannot get their hose into the wall down from the attic to clean the area in the wall where the raccoon nest is that previously had babies in it. The area is too small. They plan to fog the attic and think that will take care of smells. They also think the mom would have removed soiled insulation from the babies. Should I worry about urine from the babies or bugs or whatever that might possibly be in that area? They are unsure if we could get into that area on our own with a shop vac. Do we need to tear the wall open to clean that area?

  12. Raccoons have been getting on the roof and have damaged the cement tiles. Roofer cleaned up the poop and repaired the roof. How can I keep them off the roof?

    • Hi, Carol,
      You know what they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
      First, refer to the “Preventing Raccoon Damage” section of this article.
      If all else fails, there are many wildlife professionals available, such as those with A All Animal Control, that can help.
      The more details that you can give to wildlife professionals, the better prepared they will be for the task at hand, and save you money on return trips.
      Here’s their website: https://www.aallanimalcontrol.com/
      Good luck!

  13. Hello. This year is the first time the nuciances got on my roof, ever in twenty. It is a three year old roof which cost over $34,000. Our problem is the usual source. We have a grapevine which has a wooden trellis. I’m sure that is how the mother and babies get up there. We have also new siding, which they may not be able to climb due to the slippery surface. Also, trees were cut back a couple of years ago.

    They are darling but they have to go. There are three large poop droppings within a two day time. The babies came close to the window as my husband tried to make noise to scare them away. The mother pulled her unfrightened baby away.

    He hooked up a strode light to deter them, not sure if it worked or not but we didn’t hear activity for a day or two. He read that a vinegar, cayenne pepper and an ammonia solution may work. He will try it tomorrow and I can let you know on a future date because they don’t seem to come every night, at least we don’t hear them.

    Meanwhile, other than what I’ve read here, do you have any other advice?

    Thank you.

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