10 Ways Raccoons Get Into Your House (And How To Get Them Out)

Frightened raccoon sits on a shed roof in broad daylight

If it has come to your attention that you have a raccoon or even a raccoon family in your home, stay calm and read on. The information we’ll give you here will help!

Raccoons are small wild animals that are attracted to the food, water, and shelter in your home. They can enter through roof soffits, edges, vents, and plumbing holes. They’ll chew any hole into one they can fit. Inspect your home each month to determine the entry point and secure a wildlife removal company.

The moment you discover you have these masked bandits as roommates, you’ll want to take action immediately. Read on and find out the steps you need to take!

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How Did Raccoons Get Into Your House?

In most cases, the raccoons you find have gotten in by some kind of invitations, you know, kind of like Vampires… if you’re into that sort of thing. 

A study on High Raccoon Densities in Urban Landscapes that found that that raccoon population explosions are taking place in more densely populated areas presently and that urban and suburban areas are more likely than rural sites to have higher populations of raccoons.

If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our informative article on raccoon urbanization in cities – it’s a hoot!

The invite doesn’t have to be engraved and sent out or even verbal. No, all you have to do is have breakages in your home structure or leave a window open and they’ll find a way in.

They’re called the bandits of the wild for more than just the mask they wear! They’re destructive by nature only because they’re so determined. 

You could incur quite a bill for repairs. The best thing to do is to be proactive and make sure you repair any of the ten things listed below that would let a raccoon inside your home.

1. Open Windows And Framing

Raccoon looking through open window

Windows and locks are a common raccoon entry point, and one that is least thought of. I mean, who thinks; “gee, I better not leave a door open or I’ll have a raccoon family in here.” It happens though. Especially those back doors located off of your kitchen. 

Yeah, they love a nice home-cooked meal–or your garbage. No reflection on your cooking but they’ll take the discards just as easily as the main dish! 

One scent they hate is hot pepper – which blocks other scents that attract them and irritates the raccoons sense of smell. If you’d like to try that method – take a look at our guide on using hot pepper to repel raccoons.

2. Roof Soffit Intersections

Roof Soffit Intersections, or RSI for short, are a common entry point for raccoons. Oh yeah, they climb. Have you seen those claws? They also have soft and agile bodies that are like cats and can squeeze through soffit spaces.

This is the way they gain entry into the attic and crawl spaces. Any gap is attractive and an easy mark. That’s because those urban raccoons have learned that you have flimsy coverings made of aluminum and other soft materials. 

That means no contest for two pairs of able claws! Raccoons are fascinatingly able to use their paws in a variety of ways.

3. Vents Attract Raccoons to Warmth 

If the raccoon feels the air coming from your roof vents, they’ll tear them open. Again, the flimsy material is typically aluminum or plastic. 

This entry point seems too small to allow a plump little masked bandit into your home, but it’s still no match for them. They now have access to your attic and will soon build a warm nest right along with yours! 

4. Cracks In Damaged Roofing

Cracks? Are you kidding me? We are talking raccoons here, not roaches! Well, we’re not talking about roaches, but a raccoon will find a vulnerability in a crack. 

The concept, according to the raccoon code of entry, is that cracks are the beginning of holes and small holes can be easily chewed into bigger holes. 

Then, once they’re big enough they enter. Lots of damage comes out of the situation, unfortunately. 

5. Damaged Roof Edges

A damaged roof edge is quite common and the masked bandits in urban areas know it. It’s one of the easiest and least noticed entry points.

First of all, most people never notice the damaged roof edge unless there’s a leak or something obvious. The damage typically comes from snow or rainstorms and other animals. 

Taking a proactive approach and getting inspections of the roof to take care of any ruptures in the shingles or actual structure is best. 

6. Chimney Tops

When you have no chimney cap, raccoons will come up from the bottom of the chimney and make their nest and nursing area on top of the damper. It’s warm and provides a wonderful shelter. 

So, why are they attracted to the chimney initially? Because they are quite similar to hollowed-out trees. In cold urban areas, they have a multitude of chimneys to choose from.

7. Plumbing Mats

This one is also typically not thought of. The plumbing pipe that lets out the gasses from the sewer will have an additional hole around it that is covered with a mat. 

This is a flimsy rubber material that may also contain some polystyrene. In other words, child’s play for raccoons! Most people aren’t aware that there is not a hole larger than the pipe itself and it is not visible. 

So, who even thinks to check it right? Well if you do notice a gaping hole surrounding the pipe with jagged edges and debris everywhere, you’ll know who the culprit is! 

Well… now you will…

8. Attic Windows

An attic that has a small window typically gets neglected. It’s also not noticed and well, even when they show them on TV shows and movies, you always see them cracked.

The most common covering of the attic window is a wooden vented cover. These are damaged by weather leaving a nice entry point for a raccoon that can shimmy right along a drain pipe of soffit and come right in!

If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our piece on how raccoons get into your attic (and how to get them out!)

9. Through Unused Areas

If you’ve got any areas in the house that aren’t used at all or in their entirety, you may wanna check that.

What do I mean by that? For example, you may have your washer and dryer in the basement as a utility room, but the rest of the space is a storage area for the stuff you don’t use, or you may have nothing in it. If it has easy entry points such as any of the ones in this article, then you may have tenants you don’t know about.

On top of that, if you have your water heater or furnace anywhere around it, then you’ve provided the perfect nesting and nursing station for a raccoon mommy.

If you have cardboard or furniture down there and a ton of clutter, you’ve made a great hiding place too. So, a neat basement is one step closer to a raccoon-free environment. 

The basement is just an example. Any room not used or only partly used can attract raccoons.

Unused areas are a great place to practice using some of the scents that raccoons hate – they work on other critters too!

10. Nearby Trees And Climbing Areas

Raccoon in a tree

The little masked bandits can be on the fluffy side. But, the claws are what allow them to latch on to the walls and places that they have to gain traction on to enter.

Anything that can act as a step ladder for them to use needs to be taken away from the house. That means anything like debris, woodpiles, or even thick trellis material can be used and should be removed.

I’m not saying to get rid of all your decorative stuff, but do it if you are in an urban high raccoon trafficked area. It’s not worth the damage they’ll do and it may be just the thing to keep them out. Especially if your neighbors have an easier way to go.

Raccoons can also nest in trees, if you didn’t know!

What To Do If There’s A Raccoon In Your House

Understanding how to deal with mammals such as raccoons and taking precautions before handling a colony are essential factors to preserve your and the raccoon’s wellbeing

First, my recommendation is to call a local professional for assistance. However, just make sure of a few other things:

  • Make sure your pets are away from the area of discovery. 
  • Ensure that you close off all other doors that lead to another room. Try to box them in without actually coming too close. 
  • Avoid coming in range of claws or mouth. Do not handle them at all! Call a professional. 
  • Do not attempt to handle, chase or corner them. 
  • Put a radio on to create loud and irritating noise in the space you know they are. Do so after dusk when they come out. Not during the day when they are apt to be confused and groggy. You can learn more about the sounds and noises that scare raccoons here.

We’ll continue going over these steps below, but feel free to look at our guide: 5 Things To Do If You Find A Raccoon In Your House, for some more in-depth information.

Encourage the raccoon to Exit

This can be done if there are no babies. And face it, most times, they’re coming to stay if they need a place to house and feed the young. 

This is why it’s important to secure a professional company that will employ humane strategies to capture, reunite the young with mothers and release them. 

If you attempt to do this yourself it may have irreversible consequences for the raccoon and a hazard for you. It’s best to have a company do it and then take proactive action towards the prevention of future move-ins. 

While you’re waiting you could employ some safe strategies like applying more scents that raccoons hate. 

Peppermint oil is one of those scents. You can buy a heavily concentrated formula that would cost less and last longer than straight peppermint oil. We recommend Rodent Sheriff Pest Control Ultra-Pure Peppermint Spray as an option.

For more ideas on how to encourage raccoons to stay away, check out our article, Epsom Salt: Here’s How To Use It To Repel Raccoons.

Preventing Raccoons From Reentering Your House

After the initial fiasco in getting the raccoons out of your home, you’ll need to quickly take precautions to keep them out. Read on to find out the simple, yet effective ways to discourage them from moving in.

If you’d like some other pointers, you can look at our guide on the Best Raccoon Repellents for other long-term solutions!

Seal Any Possible Raccoon Entrances

As you go through this article again, make sure you place metal caging over entry points like the plumbing matt pipe and the chimney. 

Take stock in your home and inspect it thoroughly. If your roof or fascia is compromised in any way then you have to take care of it right away. 

Seal Your Trash Cans

Raccoon looking for food in trash can

Always secure your trash cans. Start from the inside out. Double bag your trash if you have to and use a bungee cord to keep the cans from being opened. 

This may not prevent it totally because they are like little surgeons and will get through if they want to. If you can keep the cans in an outdoor closet, shed or garage, better yet. 

Just make sure to take the extra step and make sure the structure they are kept in is not compromised.

If you’ve ever wondered, feel free to read more about why raccoons eat garbage here.

Clean Up Your Garden

Limit hiding spaces by keeping your garden in good shape. Use chicken wire for the base of sheds and other places where they may gain entry.

If you are concerned with the look of it you can always put decorative latticework over it.

Scare the Raccoons Away

Hook up some motion-controlled sprinklers or flashing lights! Sounds like a party, right? They may persist unless there is noise too. With the raccoon, a multitude of things; scent, noise, and lights have to be employed to scare the raccoons away totally. 

Check with neighbors before doing anything loud that would disturb the peace of course.

Get Rid of Pet Food, Raccoons Love It

Your pet or livestock food is a regular buffet for a raccoon family. After all, it’s right there, and if other animals share they may not be bothered. That’s more of an invitation.

Be vigilant and possibly find another way to feed your pets as you would the livestock. Feed them in one designated area at a certain time and don’t leave the food out. 

Wrapping Up!

Well, that’s all we’ve got. We hope you found value in this article and that you’ll institute some of the suggestions to help with your raccoon problem!

We want to reiterate that securing a professional company is the best way to get the situation under control safely for all involved including the raccoon.

Happy raccoon repelling!

References

Martin, J., O’Connell Jr, A. F., Kendall, W. L., Runge, M. C., Simons, T. R., Waldstein, A. H., … & Zipkin, E. F. (2010). Optimal control of native predators. Biological Conservation143(7), 1751-1758.

Suzuki, T., & Ikeda, T. (2020). Invasive raccoon management systems and challenges in regions with active control. BMC ecology20(1), 1-13.

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