Raccoon in the Basement

A situation involving raccoons in the basement or cellar is not terribly common, but it can happen. Like any part of a house, a basement is a decent place to live, because it's enclosed and protected from the elements. Even if the basement is cold and damp, it's likely warmer and dryer than the outside, especially at night. And of course, mother raccoons want a safe place to raise their young. You can actually set traps in the basement, but you'll have better luck trapping outside, near the entry hole.

Learn more: Do raccoons use tools?

If you do have a raccoon in the basement, be sure to search for a litter of young raccoons, particularly if it's springtime, from February to May. You don't want to trap and remove an adult, and leave a litter of baby raccoons behind to starve and die (and decompose, which will cause odor problems).

If you find the entry/exit hole, you can attempt to scare the raccoon out of the cellar, or wait until you know it's out, and then seal the hole - but beware - raccoons can hide very well, and if you seal the exit hole when it's inside, it can cause considerable damage as it tries to break out.

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Situations involving raccoons in the cellar or basements of homes are due to the relatively recent phenomenon of raccoon infestation, which is due to these animals becoming urbanized. They like to live in human homes. They much prefer the attic (thus the reason I built this website), because their instinct for safety is to travel upward, but they do sometimes live in the basement of a home, which is almost as good as an attic, shelter-wise.

If you do encounter a raccoon face-to-face in the basement, don't try to fight the animal, because it will defend itself, and raccoons are very strong. Simply walk away, and deal with the problem via proper trapping and exclusion.

Why would raccoon break into basement - Basements are not the most common places for raccoons to decide to build a den. In the wild, a vertical surface means safety for the agile raccoon; on the ground they are too exposed to predation. In the event where a vertical home is not available, however, the raccoon will look for the most protected area possible. This is most common in urban settings, where the raccoons have become complete scavengers, living off human waste products. If this is the situation, you should consider hiring a wildlife removal company to trap the animal and relocate it. Urban raccoons are often more cunning than their country cousins, and the urban raccoon can also be more aggressive. Trapping is possible with a cage trap set securely on the ground near where the animal is coming and going; however, in a city setting, you are just as likely to catch the neighbor cat. The other reason why a raccoon might have snuck into your basement is because you left some food out. Pet food tends to be one of the most common lures for raccoons that have snuck into a home. Make sure any pet doors or windows are secured during the night if you leave food out 24/7.

If your cellar is sealed off, or of you've got a perimeter barrier, you may wonder Do Raccoons Burrow Or Dig Holes? to gain access to the basement. The answer is not really. Though they are resourceful and can pry areas open with their strong hands, they aren't a burrowing animal to get into your cellar.

It's also worth noting that it's very rare to find a raccoon nest of babies below a house in a basement. They always have the litter of young off the ground, up in the attic or walls, or up in a tree, but never below the house. So any raccoon living in the basement of a house is most likely a male raccoon, or a female without any young, so that's one relief about basement animal problems.


Actual Situation: Thanks so much for the valuable info on your site. I have recently discovered racoons getting in through the top of my house. I live in a large underground home with a large addition built above. There are numerous crawlspaces and ceilings where I believe theyve made there way through to a portion of the home that has a drop ceiling, and to another portion of the home that is a basement. I've found droppings and I smell urine in the basement. This evening I heard the babies somewhere above the drop ceiling. It didnt sound like they were moving but I heard them squeaking so Im guessing they are young. I put in a call to animal control and left the home. My question is how long does it take for them to cause severe damage? I just recently discovered them so Im hoping the pregnant mother just had them. Thanks for your time. Andrew

My response: Sometimes mother raccoons don't cause much damage, and sometimes they cause a lot. In a basement, I don't think there's as much to destroy, but in a ceiling or attic, they often tear up ducts and insulation. Raccoons all have different personalities. Yes, it does sound like you have young. They are usually fairly easy to remove from a drop ceiling, because you can just pop out the panels. No animal control agency in the country will remove baby raccoons inside the house, or do the necessary home repairs to keep the raccoons out. I recommend that you hire a wildlife removal company to help you.

Article topics include:
How to get rid of raccoons in the basement.
Get raccoons out of the basement and keep them out.
How to remove raccoons from the basement.