If you’ve ever woken up to falling trash cans, then you’re probably familiar with raccoons. These furry black and white critters tend to get into everything from trash bins to chicken coops to pet food but luckily for us, they can easily be deterred using various sounds and noises.
As a general rule, raccoons are repelled by the sound and noise from wind chimes, radios set to a conversational station that mimicks human voice, bioacoustics from other animal noises, shouting, firecrackers, and the banging of pots and pans.
In more rural areas, raccoons are especially prevalent near chicken coops and livestock feed areas; raccoons are opportunistic animals that tend to flock toward easy food and pleasurable living, so how can you keep them away using simple sounds and noises?
Why You Should Repel Raccoons
There are several reasons why you might want to scare raccoons off. If you know they live in your area, prevention is the best action to avoid a run-in with a wild raccoon.
Although raccoons historically have lived only in areas that contain a water source, due to human development, their populations have spread across most of the US, excepting only a few desert states such as Utah and Arizona.
Raccoons may look like fluffy, harmless creatures, but the truth is they should be treated with the utmost caution.
Here is a quick look at why scaring off raccoons with sounds and noises is a good idea.
Raccoons typically build dens in caves, hollow trees, or den-like rock formations. If they can’t find this type of environment due to human development, they’ll make due with an attic, chimney, or crawlspace.
To get inside an attic or wall space, raccoons can damage shingles and facia boards to get inside. Once inside, raccoons can damage housing material with their excrements, as well as plug chimneys with nest material.
Pets and Chicken Coops
As stated before, raccoons are opportunistic. Unfortunately, chickens, ducks, and pets can be easy targets for raccoons. It may be hard to believe, but raccoons can and will destroy chickens and ducks for their eggs.
The best way to prevent this is to secure your chickens or ducks in an enclosure at night when raccoons are most active. Simple latches and wire fences are not enough protection, as raccoons know how to open latches and will dig under or climb over simple wire fencing.
Garden and Crops
Raccoons do not know the difference between stumbling on food in the wild and finding food in your garden or crops. To them, anything edible is fair game.
They particularly like sweet foods such as watermelon, sweet corn, apples, peaches, and cherries. If you grow these crops, keep a close eye out for raccoons, and learn how to deter them.
Signs of a Raccoon on Your Property
Deer and rabbits are contenders for garden grazers. Opossums and skunks will knock over trash cans. Foxes and coyotes frequent chicken coops. How can you tell you have a raccoon and not some other critter?
The truth is, it may be difficult to accurately identify a raccoon intruder unless you physically see it.
If damage has occurred, try looking for tracks that will help identify the intruder. Raccoons have very distinctive tracks, as their back paws look similar to a very small handprint. You can also try identifying their scat.
If shingles or sideboards have been damaged, the most likely culprit is a raccoon. They have the necessary thumbs to be able to grab onto the material.
Otherwise, knocked-over trash cans, chimney invaders, and garden grazers could be a number of different animals. The good news is, noise and sound deterrents work on these copy-cat intruders as well.
Sounds and Noises That Will Scare Raccoons
Now we’re getting to the good part! Whether you have a chicken coop, a garden, or a cozy, den-like chimney, raccoons are not always a welcomed guest.
Instead, try using sounds and noises to deter raccoons from your house and yard. It’s a safe and relatively effective way to scare raccoons off.
Of course, please don’t interact with a wild raccoon and contact a pest or wildlife control professional if needed.
The key is combining auditory deterrents (sound) with visual deterrents (predator silhouettes, lights, etc.). The most effective deterrents are changed frequently and moved to different locations often.
Long Term Noise Deterrents for Raccoons
Long-term sound deterrents are going to be items you can put up and keep up for as long as you live in that location. The position of the noise deterrent will need to be changed frequently to avoid habituation by the raccoon.
Wind chimes are a passive noise deterrent to keep raccoons as well as other unwelcome critters away. It’s not recommended to solely use wind chimes, as raccoons will get used to the sound after a week or two and no longer be afraid of it.
Switching the sound of the windchimes from high-pitched metallic windchimes to a more deep-toned chime can keep raccoons on their toes (or paws!).
Make sure to change the location of your windchime every few days for the best results. Here are a few great choices for repelling raccoons:
Bcamelys Deep Tone Wind Chime has deep, soothing tones. This is a great choice if you live in a neighborhood close to other people, as the sound is more natural. Although the noise is soothing to people, it will still be new and startling to raccoons.
In reverse and the exact opposite of deep tone, Mohoo’s Small Wind Chime is both affordable and functional. It’s quite smaller in size than the deep tone and has a higher pitched tune. Perfect for startling raccoons.
You could also utilize both wind chimes and switch them periodically in order for the raccoons and other nearby critters not to get used to the noise.
Radios tuned to a conversation may trick raccoons into thinking humans are nearby. This may be less effective in urban settings where the noise of human conversation, traffic, and sirens are the norm.
Raccoons that live near rural communities are less likely to be familiar with humans and their voices. The sound of the radio may scare the raccoon away from your trash cans or chicken coop.
The downside is that raccoons are very adaptive creatures. They tend to learn after a period of time which noises are actually a threat and which ones are safe to be around.
To combat this, try switching the station up frequently, moving the radio to different locations, and adjusting the volume every once in a while, to keep the raccoons guessing. They are less likely to habituate an area that has frequently changing sounds and noises.
Adult raccoons weigh about 20 pounds on average – a sizeable animal! They are preyed on by large predators such as coyotes, wolves, and large birds of prey.
Bioacoustics use sounds made by either the animal itself in the form of a distress call or of the animals’ natural enemy. Yep, just like in that one dinosaur amusement park movie (you know), when an animal hears a distress call, they tend to turn tail and run.
The internet is filled with videos of coyote yips, wolf howls, owls in flight, and dogs barking. If you have a portable Bluetooth speaker, it’s an easy task to set up your phone, put it on the charger, and play a video at night.
As with most noise deterrents, you’ll want to move the speaker frequently and change up the sounds you are playing. This will keep the raccoon frightened and most likely steer it to a safer location.
Another option is a recording of loud sounds such as gunfire or fireworks. This is really only an option if you live in a secluded area. Otherwise, your neighbors may not appreciate the noise.
Anything that makes noise can be your ally against raccoons. Pinwheels, tin pie, pans swinging on a string, old soup cans, empty glass bottles.
Passive noisemakers will work long term as long as the location and sound are changed frequently. Otherwise, your masked bandit will return without fear.
Ultrasonic Noise Makers
There have been a few studies that looked at the use of ultrasonic sound to repel animals. Unfortunately, many of these studies have come back inconclusive.
Most test subjects were small rodents such as mice and rats and worked at specific frequencies sparingly. Personally, I’m a bit skeptical of their long-term use and prefer more physical or sensational deterrents.
Although the results are unclear, ultrasonic noisemakers are relatively cheap, so the choice is yours.
Short Term Noise Deterrents for Raccoons
Short-term noise deterrents are meant to be fast-acting and short-lasting. If you’ve found a hole in your siding and are sure the raccoon is not inside your house, you can use short-term noise deterrents to keep raccoons away while you fix the hole.
Other scenarios where short-term noise deterrents are useful would be if you actually see a raccoon in your yard, your trash bin, or heading toward your chicken coop.
Here are a few techniques to quickly scare away raccoons.
When lit and discharged, firecrackers make a very loud gunshot-like noise. Never throw firecrackers directly at an animal. It is best to throw them in a location away from people and animals and only use them if you have the proper experience.
The sound of a firecracker will be very loud and frightening to the raccoon. They are likely to turn right around and scurry back into the woods.
The reason firecrackers are put on the short-term list is because it’s really not practical to continually set firecrackers off. Once the noise is made, raccoons will eventually return, but they will be cautious for at least a few hours, if not a few days.
Also, we’re talking firecrackers. Not a big ol’ firework, here.
Pots and Pans
If you’re short on firecrackers, try turning to something more domestic. A metal pot or pan works perfectly.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to bang on the pan. It should make a loud, ringing metallic sound that is sure to send a raccoon (and any deer or birds hanging around) scurrying away.
Even if you don’t have time to grab a pot or pan, making a loud slapping or clapping noise with your hands might be enough to do the trick.
If you’re really short on supplies, or you have your hands full, try shouting at the raccoon. Raccoons aren’t used to the sounds of a yelling voice.
Typically, any noise that is outside of their normal realm will scare them. This may be less likely to work in urban settings. Also, if you have a persistent critter who is used to getting shouted at, they will be less likely to run off.
Other Ways to Scare Raccoons Away
Sounds and noises are only one way to scare raccoons away. The most effective deterrents will combine sounds and noises with some other type of visual or physical deterrent!
Some of the more practical ways to keep raccoons away may already be installed in and around your house. Let’s take a closer look:
Floodlights that are motion-activated are going to be your best defense against your masked bandit. You’ll want to use a solar-powered light, so you don’t have to recharge it.
Ideally, take a peek at these Outdoor Solar Lights from Hmcity if you’d like.
Raccoons are nocturnal, so they are used to the darkness of night. The flash of a sudden bright light will send them running.
Make sure to place your motion-sensor light strategically. If raccoons are getting in your trash cans, put the light there. If they’re getting into the chicken coop, barn, or your siding, but the light there.
There are plenty of options out there. If you don’t want to deal with wiring the lights, try a solar-powered outdoor light. It charges itself during the day and lights up when motion-activated. Be aware that solar-powered items must see the sun to work, so make sure you place them out of the shade!
Pair your motion-activated light with a noise deterrent such as wind chimes or bioacoustics to get the best effect.
Motion Activated Sprinkler System
If you’re looking for a humane way to physically repel your unwelcome raccoon, try a motion-activated sprinkler system. This system will activate when the raccoon passes by the motion sensor and give it a surprise bath.
There are a number of sprinkler systems on the market. The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer is an excellent choice and reasonably priced. It comes with two priority added benefits:
- Day & Night protection – you can set the sprinkler to activate only at night when raccoons are most active. This will save on accidental activations, saving battery life and water consumption.
- Intelligent sensing – it knows the difference between a tree blowing in the wind and an animal, which saves on water and battery life.
Some animals are afraid of change. If they frequent an area that all of a sudden has a reflector, statue, or silhouette, it may discourage them from coming around.
Nocturnal animals tend to have more rods than cones in their eyes, meaning their vision is adapted to low levels of light.
Raccoons, in particular, have what’s called a tapetum lucidum, which reflects light and gives the glowing eyes appearance when you shine a light on them. It is a reflective layer located behind the retina that basically helps them see in the dark using any light available, even at low levels.
With this in mind, a silhouette of a coyote at night may seem pointless for daytime creatures, but raccoons will be able to see it as long as there is at least a little bit of light. Keep in mind unless the silhouette is moved often, the raccoon will get used to it.
Reflectors, flashing lights, and even lasers have been studied for repelling certain animals. You may have to try a few different visual deterrents before finding the right one to repel a raccoon.
The Most Likely Places to Find a Raccoon Near Your Home
Raccoons will often try to sneak into a chimney, attic, or crawlspace in order to build a nest and give birth to their young. The best way to avoid this is to secure your house before you have a raccoon problem.
The most common time of year for raccoons to enter your house is late winter to early spring when they are preparing to give birth. They will try to find a safe and secure place for their young.
If you discover a raccoon is in your house, and it has young, the best solution is to hire a professional to remove it or wait until the mother and kits move out on their own. If the cubs are separated from the mother, they will not survive for long.
To keep them out of the chimney, consider covering them with a spark arrestor or chimney cap. This is sure to prevent your neighborhood raccoons from seeing your chimney as a potential den site. It will also help keep out birds, squirrels, and rats.
If you’re having problems with spaces beneath your porch, house, or shed, know that regular fencing will not keep raccoons out. Those deviant little masked bandits will burrow beneath or crawl above the fence to get where they want to go.
The solution? You’ll need to use 10-gauge 1/4- or 1/3-inch galvanized hardware mesh. Because raccoons are willing to dig under fences, make sure to bury it at least six inches and then extend it out 12 inches before burying it with soil.
This type of fencing will double as a deterrent for skunks, squirrels, rats, and opossums as well. Nothing wrong with that!
If your sneaky neighborhood bandit has gotten used to your floodlight and wind chimes, it may be time to consider a different solution to keep your trash from being spread all over the driveway.
Try using bungee cords to latch your trash can lids to the can. This way, even if a raccoon knocks them over, the trash will not spill out. When they know there’s no food source, they’ll stop coming around.
If you’re looking for a more secure solution, consider using something like a bear-proof trash can. These are built with a latch that cannot be easily undone by bears or pesky raccoons.
Will Racoons Leave on Their Own?
Raccoons are easy to identify and are common enough in almost any environment in the US. They’ve learned to adapt to live side-by-side with humans.
As a general rule, raccoons will not leave your yard or house on their own unless they have an alternative den site or source of food. This means that you will need to be active in trying to get rid of a raccoon rather than waiting for the animal to leave on its own accord.
If you’ve moved into a housing plan that used to be a swath of woods, the raccoons have most likely been displaced and no longer have a place to live.
It may take them a while to figure out where to build their new home. Raccoons usually only live in a 1-to-3-mile radius of where they are born. And because they are opportunistic, they’ll try to find the closest and easiest den area to their former home.
Below are some of the most likely times that if you find a raccoon, you’ll be certain that they won’t be leaving on their own for quite some time:
Don’t expect a reprieve from raccoon visits in the winter. These trundling creatures do not hibernate but will certainly be less active during harsh winter weather.
Raccoons build dens near the base of trees, in caves, or similar environments. During harsh weather, they’ll try to find as much cover and warmth as they can, which is why they occasionally make their way into your house.
Sometimes the reason a raccoon moves into your attic or chimney is because they are looking for a safe, warm place to have their young.
Raccoons typically mate from January to March and have their young in April and May. However, just because you live in a state that stays warm all year doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see fewer raccoon invasions.
It’s important to note here that a mother raccoon typically cares for her young until late fall. If you find a raccoon family is nesting in your house, it’s best to let a professional handle it, as they will know how to keep the mother raccoon and her young together.
That’s a Wrap!
Raccoons are here to stay. They are now a common occurrence in cities and rural towns, living side by side with humans.
If you’re having raccoon problems in your house, have chickens, or simply don’t want raccoons near your house, there are several ways to keep them away.
Use sounds and noises to scare off raccoons. If you see one, try using a short-term noisemaker such as clapping, firecrackers, or yelling. For long-term deterrents, try a radio, wind chimes, or a recorded video of a distress call or predator.
The most effective way to deter raccoons is to combine visual and audio deterrents. Most wild animals will be frightened of anything new, even if it doesn’t look like a coyote or other predator.
There are other ways to deter raccoons, and you may have to try a few different kinds before you find something that works. Make sure to change things up frequently, or your unwanted visitor will become used to the deterrent and keep coming back.
Be aware that even though raccoons are small and may look harmless, if they are cornered, they can become quite aggressive, especially if they are defending their young. If in doubt, always consult a professional.
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