Raccoons can be found in cities and country alike. They love to steal food and shiny objects. They are wily animals with a knack for opening latches and doors. But how can you keep them away from your food?
How Can You Keep Raccoons Away? The best way to keep raccoons away is to not attract them to food or to smells. Raccoons are scavengers. They are also very persistent and can find creative ways to get access to your pet’s food, your leftovers, and even the bird seed. Keep the food locked up. Often that can be difficult. Here are several things you can do:
1. Use Raccoon-Safe Coolers.
Raccoons have been known to open the typical snap coolers. They will also pull away food containers and coolers, which can make it hard to find. If you are camping, then you can secure your cooler with bungee cords to keep the lid closed. You can also tie down your cooler so it can’t be drug away.
However, if you are in bear country, be aware that bungee cords won’t protect your food from bears. A bear can easily open coolers secured with bungee cords. Some coolers come with locks that make it harder for raccoons and bears to open.
If you are fighting raccoons on your deck or in your backyard, then make sure that you bring coolers inside once you are finished using them. You probably don’t need animal-secure coolers but will need to make sure that you don’t leave them open or unattended during your outdoor meal.
2. Use Bear Canisters.
Bear canisters are heavier but are a great option when camping. They require a coin to open the lid. This makes it nearly impossible for a bear or raccoon to open a bear canister to gain access to food. Bear canisters are heavier so they may not be ideal for backpacking, but they can be used in your backyard.
They are heavy duty so they can serve a dual purpose and function as a seat. (They aren’t as comfortable as patio seating, however)
3. Don’t Leave Any Food Out.
Whether you are camping or dealing with raccoons in the city, it is vital to keep all your food put away. Raccoons will smell food and come looking for an easy meal. This can be difficult for both campers and in the city.
While camping, you must use extra diligence to keep all food out away. Even food that falls on the ground must be cared for as raccoons will find it and will be drawn to your campsite. Additionally, it will attract chipmunks, squirrels, and other animals.
Everything must be locked up and put away when you are gone or sleeping. You can lock it up in your car if you are camping close by. You can also hang it from a tree, or keep it in raccoon safe containers that are tied down. (Rubbermaid, ziplock, and other similar containers are NOT strong or safe from raccoons)
At home, make it a habit to pull food indoors. If you have a fruit tree or garden, you will need to take additional steps to keep the raccoons away from your produce. Keep your garage door closed at all times and clean up any spills that occur while dining outside.
4. Lock Up Trash.
There are two very different ways to keep your trash locked up and it depends on whether or not you are dealing with camping trash or at-home trash.
If you are camping, then you will need to secure your trash in the same manner as your food. Do not burn your leftover food or trash as it will not break down all the organic material and the smell will attract animals. You can secure your trash by hanging it or locking it in a secure place. Many campgrounds provide bear-safe containers. These are a great place to keep trash locked up as well.
At home, you will need to secure your garbage cans. One of the easiest ways to do this is to secure 2 bungee cords around the can. Secure them perpendicular to each other so that they form at across the lid of the can. Make sure that they are secure and lot lose. This will keep raccoons out of your trash and will help to keep from attracting them to your property.
5. Hang Your Food In A Tree
When camping or backpacking, you can hang your food in a tree. This is a very effective method to keep bears out of your food, but it does have limited success with raccoons. If you are also trying to protect against raccoons, you will want to have a bag that is raccoon proof or they will chew through the bag to access your food.
Do not assume that raccoons can’t reach a hung bag. They are daring, excellent climbers. They can scale the most impossible situations. Raccoons are not afraid to leap or reach. As a result, hanging your food will not keep them from your bag, it will just make it a little harder. If you use a bear bag, it will keep the smell inside and will help to keep from attracting raccoons.
6. Stash All Smelly Products
Raccoons have a keen sense of smell. They are attracted to smells that don’t register to human noses. That makes it important to keep your smelly products at home or to keep them put up. Lotions, conditioners, perfume, even bar soap can attract raccoons.
When you camp or go hiking, leave the scented stuff behind and bring odorless toiletries. Even toothpaste can bring raccoons near because they love the smell of mint. If you have things that you can’t leave at home, make sure that you store them with the same security that you store your food.
7. Store Shiny Stuff Out Of Sight
Raccoons are attracted to shiny things. This includes mirrors, tinfoil, CDs, keys, jewelry, and other shiny objects. If the objects are small enough to carry away, they are likely to be stolen. Raccoons are strong animals and they can carry items that seem too large for them. They have been known to carry some very heavy things, especially if several raccoons work together.
8. Use Bright Lights And Sounds
If raccoons do invade your campsite, garage, or backyard, you can scare them away with bright lights. Raccoons will frighten away with lights and sounds. Bring a bright flashlight or lantern that you can use to scare them away. Yell or bang pans to scare them.
In the city, and at popular camping locations, raccoons have lost much of their fear of people. As a result, they may come into your campsite or backyard while you are outside. You can help to scare them away by being loud, obnoxious, and by shining a bright light at them.
Homeowners can install motion sensor lights. However, they will need to be lights that are meant to capture the movements of small animals as many motions sensor lights are made to detect large animals and humans.
You can also play a radio or music and use sound to scare them away while you are eating outside or having a BBQ.
9. Repel Raccoons Through Smell
There are specific smells that raccoons don’t like. Chili powder, cayenne pepper, and ammonia are all smells that raccoons don’t like. They also dislike cinnamon, black pepper, and other hot peppers. You can sprinkle spices around your campground to keep them at bay.
If you are trying to keep raccoons away from your backyard picnic or BBQ, then use spices to keep them away during your event.
How do I keep raccoons away from my campsite?
Campsites are different than home access to raccoons. Make sure that you don’t pour cooking oil into the ground or fire at your campground. Don’t brush your teeth and spit your toothpaste into the dirt. Keep your food contained and clean up any spills. Raccoons and other animals will easily smell food, toothpaste, or cooking remains and is attracted to a campsite.
Consider using used soda bottles to contain your toothpaste and old cooking oils.
Plus, don’t burn your paper plates and trash because the smell will remain in the ashes. Take back all the trash you use. Many campsites have a communal dumpster that can be used.
How do I keep raccoons away from my garden?
Raccoons are attracted to gardens because of the tasty food. Few things can be as frustrating as waiting for that tomato to ripen only to find it ripped apart by a raccoon! Happily, there are several things you can do to keep raccoons away from your garden and produce.
Repel them with the use of wood ashes. Spread ashes around your plants to repel them.
Some people recommend using blood meal as a raccoon repellant. However, raccoons can be attracted to blood meal because they do eat both plants and animals. If you choose to try blood meal around your garden, then be aware that it can attract other predators in your area. Dogs are particularly attracted to blood meal. (But dogs can scare raccoons away also!)
Another way to keep raccoons out of your garden is to plant squash plants around the perimeter. Raccoons don’t like to walk on the prickly plants. However, the plants will need to be well-established and provide a thick enough barrier that the raccoons can’t weave their way through.
How do I keep raccoons out of my trash?
Many a wily raccoon has gotten into a trash can and left a huge mess for the homeowner. To keep raccoons away from your trash, you should secure your trash lid and can. Do not put trash bags outside without a container.
Trash cans can be secured with a bungee cord through the handle of the lid. Tie it securely or make sure that you have the right size of cord so that the cord is tight and can’t be pushed off the can.
If your garbage can is a smaller variety, then you will want to secure the can so that it can’t be pushed over. Raccoons can make a large mess and have been known to push over trash cans.
What do raccoons eat? Raccoons will eat almost anything. They eat plants and meat. They will forage for food of any type. Because the love to forage, raccoons are masters at finding food anywhere. Raccoons eat human food and trash. They tear apart wrappers and containers looking for food. They eat dog and cat food. They eat bird seed and the birds as well. They eat mice, fish, eggs, turtles, clams, and worms. They will eat insects and roadkill.
How do I know if a raccoon is bothering my yard? There are several clues that indicate raccoon activity.
- Holes in your lawn: Raccoons like to dig and will dig holes in your yard.
- Garbage cans opened or knocked over
- Fish missing out of the fish pond
- Mangled bird feeders with the food eaten
- Half-eaten produce out of the garden
- Little footprints in wet soil. Raccoons have five toes and their tracks can look like a human hand, but will also have claw marks at the end of the “fingers”
- Tubular droppings