Wildlife Education - Information, Advice, and Techniques for the Safe Catching of Raccoons

How to Catch Raccoons

I have written a great deal of advice on this website about how to catch raccoons, both in the house and outside. Click any of the following pages: raccoon trapping guide - raccoon bait - how to kill raccoons - how to relocate live raccoons.

Raccoon catching methods include, cage traps, box traps, leghold traps, snare sets, body grip traps, catching by hand, snare pole capture, and netting.  I myself prefer using cage traps - they are the easiest and most humane.  However, in the case of a sick raccoon, I use a snare pole. and I remove baby raccoons by hand.

           
It is definitely not so simple as just 1) Buy a trap. 2) Bait it and set it on the lawn. 3) Problem solved. There are many very important considerations, and many mistakes that amateurs make - costly mistakes - for both homeowner and raccoon - that I highly recommend you read more information on my website before you attempt to trap the animal yourself (trapping, by the way, is actually illegal in most states if you're not properly licensed). If you want to call a professional wildlife specialist company in your area, click the "Hire a Pro" link on the bar to the upper-right. Thanks!

Raccoon catching techniques - There are two categories when you think about trapping a wild animal. There are lethal traps and there are non-lethal traps. Not all lethal traps are inhumane, and not all live traps are better for the animal, but for the most part, responsible trapping and relocation is by far the best method. Fur trappers often employ the use of leg hold traps or body gripping traps. A leg hold trap will grip the animal’s leg, holding them firmly in position until the trapper returns. Many leg hold traps manufactured today are considered or advertised as humane, made with flexible plastic grips instead of the jaw grips with metal teeth.  While the plastic may be better than metal, you still have to shoot the animal in the end, or grab it with a snare pole to a relocation box. Body gripping traps are also common amongst fur trappers, though these are most certainly lethal devices. A body gripping trap is like a giant, powerful mouse trap. Because of how dangerous they are for use around a home, most people with a pest issue are better served looking for other alternatives. Leave the leg holds and body gripping traps to the fur trappers. Pest animals can easily be handled with a cage trap. Raccoons are one of the nuisance critters often found in attics that are effectively trapped with this method. Because most raccoons in a home are female, you can sometimes remove the babies and use them as a lure in the trap for the mother.

Tips on how to catch raccoons - First, you need to look at the laws in your state before you decide to take it upon yourself and catch a raccoon. Most states do not allow homeowners this privilege unless they have a special license. The states that do allow the common civilian to eliminate a problem raccoon in the home generally require you to kill and then dispose of the creature without taking it off your property. Without the proper paperwork, there’s almost no legal way to catch a raccoon and take it, alive, off your property for relocation. So, the best tip for trapping raccoons is: Hire a professional. If you’re low on cash or just don’t want anyone to help you, you are physically able to do the job, but there will be some risks involved. Another fantastic tip is: Know what you’re getting yourself into. Raccoons can carry a number of diseases, and Rabies is one of the most prevalent illnesses in this particular animal’s population. If you get rabies and fail to get the post-exposure vaccine, you will die. Period. If you’re not equipped to face a mother raccoon that won’t leave the attic because of her young, then you really do need to leave this to a professional.

NOTE: I have received so many requests for professional help with raccoons, particularly nests of baby raccoons in trees and attics, that I have spent hundreds of hours compiling a complete United States directory of people who can help. Click the following link for a complete listing of hundreds of professional raccoon removal experts serving every city in the USA.

Some people can catch raccoons with a snare pole, but these raccoons are usually sick or injured, or cornered. There's no way a person can catch a healthy raccoon with a snare stick out in the open. I've caught plenty in attics and down walls this way though. Some trappers use snare sets, but I've never done so.

Below are several emails I've received from readers of this website:
Dear David,
I am considering hiring a company to clean-up after a raccoon invaded my attic, left feces and urine and tore up insulation and the outside of boxes. The company recommends discarding everything in the attic but I have some valuable things I would like to keep. How can I safely do this?
Thanks,
Laraine

Jeez, you don't have to throw out your valuables! It's not like raccoons are toxic! Most of the time, you don't even need to clean the whole attic. Just wipe down your valuables with a rag and household cleaner, and it'll be fine.

Thanks for your quick answer, David. There are so many websites advising different things to do it is hard to decide who to trust.


Well David yes we have a very large racoon invading our back yard. As soon as it's dark it goes up into our trees and knocks down the bird feeders. Well so when it started to get dark we took down the bird feeders that it commonly dropped to the ground and put them away where it couldn't get to . For some reason it still comes around in the back yard and we don't know why. It's pretty hard to see if it's a mother it's always dark when it comes out. Were just afraid that one night well come home at night and accidently surprise it and it will be right there in our face. We know they can be vicious . Our Grandchildren our home from school now and often well have bond fires or play hide and seek at night and we just don't want them to run into it. We decided to get a trap from my son-inlaw and it is big enouph he has put peanutbutter in the cage it just hasn't worked the coon has tripped it and always gets away. Our first concern are the grandchildren and the second are the cost and nuisance of our feed being taken as we don't feel like climbing a ladder every day to take down our feeders. Oh and it has damaged a few of them already by dropping them to the ground. Help!

First of all a raccoon will not attack if unprovoked, so I don't see it as a threat to your grandchildren. However, if threatened or cornered, a raccoon will defend itself. If you decide you want to trap a raccoon, you need the right type of trap, large and sturdy, and it must be set right, etc. Amateurs make many mistakes when it comes to trapping, so you might want to hire a pro.


I am unsure what to do especially after reading online about when raccoon babies are born and how long they stay with the mother. To me they look big enough but then I am used to stray cats and kittens not raccoons. I found a raccoon dead in the road near my house a day or two ago and now I have noticed some babies under my house. I assume she had them in the insulation under my house as that is where they are and the mother was the one that was hit. They seem distressed and want to come out of the nest but then duck back inside chattering and whirring kind of. What should I do? How do I catch these raccoons? I know of a wildlife rescue place an hour or so away as I have taken injured birds there. I am in Texas by the way. However how do I get the babies? I do have live traps I have used for the wild cats but what if the raccoons are not eating solid food yet? Trapping them won't work. I am also honestly too afraid to try to grab them myself. *blush* They are not tiny like the ones pictured on your site. Their eyes are open and they seem a bit mobile though too afraid to leave the nest. I am seriously concerned the dead in the road raccoon was their mother. I would appreciate any advice you can give me as I don't want them to die. =( I did call the supposedly 24 hour hotline at the wildlife rescue place I took the birds to but no one answered so I will have to wait until morning. - Heidi

I recommend that you call the wildlife rescue place again. If they won't go under the house to collect the young, I suggest calling a wildlife removal company to come get them, and then you can transport them to the wildlife rehabbers.


Hi David, My 75 year old mother had a mom and three babies removed from her attic 10 days ago. She hears loud growls and more noise from the attic. She thinks it is too loud to be another baby. Do female adult raccoons come in pairs. Everything I read says the male wouldn't be around. She can't seem to capture this 5th creature. Any suggestions? - Jill

Jill - Only one adult, a female. But maybe another animal moved in to try to steal territory, and one of the adults left. - David


We reside in a two-story house and we have a mother raccoon and her infants living in between the floors. This has actually been a problem since we bought the house 3 years ago. The first year, we heard the young running around in our ceiling and by the time we found out what they were, they had grown and were leaving. The 2nd year, the mother had her babies in an old, partially filled chimney of ours. With the help of a friend, my husband snared them. The mother escaped the trap we had and my husband's friend took the infant raccoons to his country home and cared for them until they left on their own. Once again, the mother has returned. She had the infants in the chimney for a couple of months and now they are residing in between the floors of our home. This bunch is crawling in our walls as well and from what we can hear, causing damage. We are not sure how to remove them and where they are getting in at. My husband has gone up on the roof a few times and cannot find any holes, except for two old chimneys. We have heard of a contraption that we can place over the areas they might be getting in at, (once we find them) and that makes it possible for them to leave but no come back. We are not sure where we can purchase one at. Do you have any advice that can help? Thank you, Mrs. Miller

Mrs Miller - You can buy a one-way door at wildlifecontrolsupplies.com. Your best bet is to do a thorough investigation of the house and find all possibly entry points - not hard with a big animal like a raccoon - and seal up the entry holes once all the animals are out. Sounds like you need metal chimney caps. If you can't do the job, hire someone. - David


Hello David.........great article on the internet about raccoons. Appreciate all of the info and the animal rehabber directory. We have a wildlife center near us but I was wondering where you are located ? We could really use some help from a real pro and you seem to be the best I have run across so far. Could you drop me a line, please, and let me know if you are in our area = Chicagoland. If not then thanks in advance and once again we appreciate the info you have published. Sincerely, L. McBride Downers Grove, IL

Sorry, but I live in Florida. You can check out the wildlife removal directory for a trapper in Chicago.


I should first start out with the fact that I am a bit of a country girl that now lives in the city. I thought that I had long ago left that barn town mentality. It seems these past few months have brought me back to my roots. I now have a raccoon in my attic and I am not happy about it. About two months ago my cat was overly interested in the fireplace that has never been used in the four years of owning this house. A day later I hear scratching in the chimney area of the second story bedroom. My first thought was raccoon or an extremely dumb squirrel. The following day has me atop my roof with a neighbor, a mag lite, and a soft-grabbable cloth on a rope. Once I got a quick look down the pipe and I see a raccoon, I'm done for the evening. No need for a rescue here. That coon got himself into to this mess he can get himself out. But I'm not wishing this animal to make my chimney his new home either. So, as the new city-girl that I am, I call a professional to trap and remove him for me. Not a problem, it toke a couple days but got the critter out of my home. During this process I learned that state law requires coons and possums to be euthanized. What's the point in trapping an animal if you can't safely and harmlessly remove it? So now we get to my purpose of emailing you. I read your article and found it really helpful, but what happens next? What is the good answer for catching if the resolution isn't release. This is not really meant to be rhetorical since my story continues to go on. I have a new tenant in my roof. The little bugger scratched/broke through a soffit to gain attic access. As I see it trapping does me little good. It seems to just a $150 body removal. As mentioned before, country girl and willing to do the dirty work myself, I'm not looking to hire a professional for this one. I've purchased an air gun and will probably "remove" the mother in the next couple evenings. The following day I plan on purging, cleaning, and repairing my attic. I am afraid that there will be kits that I will have to remove as well. Since these babies should have limited exposure and could probably be treated by a wildlife facility, is there a way around the euthanization rule? If so, were could I take them. I would rather save these animals if I can, so any helpful advice would greatly be appreciate. -thanks Gwen

You don't have to trap or kill anything if you use Raccoon Eviction Fluid or Coyote Urine, which may make them leave on their own. Or for squirrels, better yet a one-way exclusion door. Most of all, seal up all the holes in the home (chimney, eaves) so that new animals can't get in. - David

I appreciate you getting back to me. I've done some research and I doubt a coon would abandon kits for a smelly door way. What I've read is that they will just move to another section of the attic and I'd prefer to keep the damage to one side if possible. I had a couple friends...evict the pups during the day, but the mother didn't seem to be around. I'm afraid she might have burrowed into the wall as she has already destroyed part of my roof just to gain attic access in the first place. So I'll be setting up safe catch traps with some rags with the pup smell on them in hopes I'll have a safe and harmless catch. Probably more info than you wanted to know, but I do appreciate you getting back with me and trying to help me find some safe alternatives. After all are removed and everything is repaired I might hose the roof/attic down with that Raccoon Eviction Fluid to prevent future break-ins. -thanks again


Hello! Great and informative site you have! Wish you resided in the Chicago area! I was hoping you could offer your opinion. Two weeks ago, I realized I have a raccoon in my attic. I contacted a local recommended trapper, who did come and set a live trap on my roof. After 4 days, the bait (cat food) disappeared, but the trap never closed and was empty. They replaced the food the following day. Four days after that, the trap closed, but was empty and the food remained inside. The service came again anf reset the trap; another four days have passed and still nothing. I'm repeatedly told to "give it a few more days." I'm awake half the night, as I hear it loudly come and go, then putter about in the attic. I'm hoping for some additional advice or wondering if I need to eat my cash loss and hire another trapper. Thanks for any direction you can give (I really need some sleep!). :-) Courtney

The animal is clearly trap-shy. You need to use raccoon eviction fluid, or a trap mounted on the exit hole with no other forms of escape - not many trappers are good at the latter. - David


Please be kind to raccoons! They are intelligent animals, and believe it or not, they definitely have emotions!
For any questions about raccoons in attics, just email me: david@raccoonatticguide.com or click: call a local pro.