Raccoons are prominent in many parts of the country, and anyone who has ever dealt with these creatures knows that they can be an extreme nuisance as well as a safety hazard. In this article we’ll discuss the best methods and tactics for successfully trapping nature’s bandits.
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Types of Raccoon Traps
Raccoon traps can be broken down into three basic categories:
- Single door traps (also known as one door traps) use a spring-loaded mechanism to trap a raccoon. The animal enters through the open door in its effort to reach the bait. The raccoon then steps on the release switch and the door quickly drops into place, effectively trapping the animal for live release.
- Two door traps (also known as rear door traps) utilize a spring-loaded door on one side, while the door on the opposite side slides open and closed. The sliding door is most often used to place the bait and then again to release the animal. Two door traps are ideal for aggressive animals.
- Kill traps come in a variety of forms. Some are designed to snap the raccoon’s neck while others take hold of the animal’s leg. These traps are usually used when the animal is suspected of carrying diseases or when the animal is to be used as food. If you choose to kill a raccoon for any purpose, do NOT attempt to use poison. The poison can smell and taste appetizing to domestic animals and if anyone or anything attempts to consume the raccoon it will likely become violently ill and could die.
Raccoon Trap Placement
You should set the trap in the same area where raccoons have been sighted. Find a stable, flat surface to place the trap, and consider putting a brick or other heavy object on top of the trap to prevent the raccoon from knocking it over after it’s captured. The tension of the tap’s switch should be set appropriately, and avoid placing the trap near anything the raccoon can destroy because it will make a mess of anything within reaching distance once it realizes it’s been bested. Raccoons will also try to dig up the area around the trap so make sure there are no electrical wires nearby.
How to Bait a Raccoon Trap
Place the bait in a way that forces the raccoon to enter the trap completely (including the tail). Raccoons will eat almost anything, but they are especially fond of foods that are high in fat and/or sugar. Some individuals have reported success by using a mix of gravy and chicken parts, but it’s wise to avoid using meat products because this will attract cats, dogs and any other animal that catches a whiff of the meat.
Many expert raccoon trappers recommend marshmallows because they have high sugar content and raccoons are attracted to the appearance of marshmallows. Poke a couple of holes in the bottom of an empty tuna or cat food can and use a zip tie to secure the can to the floor of the trap (to prevent the raccoons from reaching inside the cage to move the can). Stuff the can with large marshmallows in a manner that prevents the marshmallows from being removed easily. This baiting method has worked for countless people over the years.
Trapping Raccoons Indoors
It’s one thing to trap a raccoon on your property, but trapping a raccoon that has made its way into your home is an entirely different animal…pun intended.
Don’t try to corner the animal if you know exactly where it is, as even the friendliest of raccoon faces can translate into bites, scratches, and a trip to the emergency room. The best thing to do is cordon off the area and immediately seek the assistance of an expert.
If you suspect that a raccoon is hiding somewhere in your home or has found a way to gain access to your home then set traps as normal. Keep pets in safe zones to avoid attacks. If the raccoon is definitely in your home then try to flush them out of hiding using ammonia or other strong scents and attempt to determine the point of access to the home. If you know that the raccoon has been inside but is currently outdoors then do your utmost to seal any openings that the animal might be using to gain entry.
What to Do with a Trapped Raccoon
If you wish to release the raccoon back into the wild, it’s best to do so in an area that is far from your home or it could easily find its way back into your garbage bags in no time. Before relocating raccoons, however, you should check with animal control and make sure that there are no laws against transporting such animals, and to find out the recommended areas for raccoon release.
If you plan to kill the raccoon it’s important to do so quickly and humanely. Using a .22 caliber rifle is the most common method, and your shot placement should be squarely between the eyes. If you plan to use the fur then you might want to consider a kill trap that snaps the animal’s neck, but if you’re only interested in the meat or in getting rid of the pest then a single shot to the head should do the trick. Don’t attempt to use a pellet gun as this could only serve to injure the animal, and avoid using a shotgun or any other weapon that uses ammunition that could scatter the entrails. Again, you need to look into local regulations before dispatching a raccoon because even though the animal was on your property and becoming a nuisance there may be laws prohibiting the killing of local wildlife. As a last resort, you can always call animal control and have them remove the animal from your premises.
How to Rid the Area of Raccoons
Raccoons love to scavenge and they have an amazing sense of smell. If you recycle your cans then be sure to rinse each can thoroughly before placing it outside because raccoons will flock to the scent of the sugar that’s found in beer and soda cans. You’ll also want to get rid of any berries that may have fallen onto the ground from trees on your property.
If you keep your trash can outside make sure it is secured tightly, and each bag should be sealed as much as possible. You can even purchase a device called a Raccoon Solution – it adds an extra layer of security to your garbage cans to prevent raccoons from prying them open. Alternatively, you can place bricks or other heavy objects on top of the garbage can lids. Wash out your garbage cans on a regular basis to eliminate any remaining scents that could attract unwanted animals.
If you suspect that raccoons are nesting on your property, throw a couple of ammonia-soaked tennis balls into the area to drive them out or mix cayenne pepper, habanero peppers and water into a spray bottle and cover the suspected nesting area. Place something movable like a piece of newspaper over their access point to your property and wait for the newspaper to be moved (that’s a sign they’ve relocated). You can then seal the access point permanently.
Do It Yourself or Call a Professional?
In some instances it might be safer to reach out to a raccoon trapping expert for help. If you suspect that the animal in question is extremely aggressive or might be carrying diseases then call your local animal control office or a private animal removal company. If you have a full-blown raccoon infestation and not just one or two rogue rodents then it’s advisable to consult with animal control experts, even if you ultimately decide to handle the matter on your own.
Trapping a raccoon can be a fast and easy job if it’s done correctly. At times, it might be best to enlist the help of a professional but in many situations you can successfully trap a raccoon in less than 24 hours by setting a trap in the right location and with the proper bait. If you have any other raccoon trapping tips you’d like to share, or if you have comments or questions regarding this topic, we’d love to get your input via the Comments section below.