Raccoons live in chimneys as well as attics. Your chimney is just like a big, hollow tree to some animals. Raccoons are great climbers, and they need a safe, dry place in which to live, so if your chimney has no chimney cap, get ready for some visitors!
Female raccoons instinctively seek out high areas in which to create a nest. Because raccoons are so common in urban areas, they often climb on houses and other buildings looking for a good place to set up a nest. It's not uncommon to see a raccoon on the roof.
If they see an open chimney, that's a great place to pick in which to set up a den.
They can easily climb down the flue, as seen in the above photo, and they usually set up a nest and have a litter of baby raccoons at the bottom.
DO NOT START A FIRE if you have raccoons in the chimney - you’d have to open
the damper to let the smoke out, and they will enter the fireplace instead of climbing out. Even if they don’t get into the your house or fireplace,
you will cook animals alive and get a horrendous odor that will last a long time.
If you have raccoons in the chimney there's several things you can do. Odor deterrents such as predator urine or raccoon eviction fluid might work, because it's a very concentrated area, as
opposed to a large and well-ventilated chimney.
The best is to set a special chimney trap at the top of the flu, which catches the raccoon as it exits. If there's babies inside, they can then be safely removed by hand.
You can also set a ground trap at the base of the chimney and do the same thing, though the capture rate may not be 100%, like with the chimney trap. You can scare the mama out and remove the young, then use the young as live bait. Or, you can
use a long chimney snare pole to grab and remove them all. Many professional wildlife removal experts have special raccoon in
chimney removal systems if odor deterrents don’t work. Just remember to get the babies as well as the mother!
If you open the damper, you may end up with raccoons in the fireplace. If they actually get into the house, stay away, and open doors and windows right away, and let them leave on their own - don't
try to corner or fight the animal, because it will likely defend itself.
Finally, once all the raccoons are out of the chimney, install a sturdy steel chimney cap to prevent this from happening again. Oh, and if you don't have a cap right now,
make sure the fireplace damper is closed, or else critters may wind up inside your home and not just the chimney.