Do Mothballs or Ammonia Help Repel Raccoons?

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They might, but they probably won’t. I don’t mean to be off-putting, but it is my experience that neither mothballs nor ammonia are effective raccoon repellents. If there are people who have been successful in their attempt of getting raccoons out of their homes or properties by using ammonia or mothballs, I certainly haven’t heard of them. I guess that’s what you would expect taking into consideration that I am a wildlife removal professional – case in point, if the tactic worked, there would’ve been no need for my help. That being said, if it didn’t happen by now, I doubt that I will ever bear witness to a mothball or ammonia deterrent success story. On the other hand, I have seen my fair share of attics filled with mothballs, soaked in bleach or reeking of ammonia while raccoons went about their business totally uninterrupted.

Mothballs (or naphthalene) have been marketed for decades as critter repellents, and are in fact the base ingredient for almost all pest deterrents, alongside coyote urine. Although naphthalene has been registered as a pesticide in the US over 60 years ago, mothballs are bad for the environment, and are not an eco-conscious choice to make. You should also be aware that by having mothballs around, you’re constantly exposed to insecticide inhalation – repeated and long exposure can cause serious health issues. And, number one on the list, mothballs don’t drive raccoons away.

Ammonia, while it is considered dangerous for the environment, it has no negative or hazardous effects on humans or other mammals. As ammonia occurs naturally in our environment, our bodies know how to decompose any toxicity levels in manmade ammonia solutions. While there is no chance for ammonia toxicity to build up in our bloodstream, this is not the case with amphibians and fish, hence the environmental danger part. If you do decide to use ammonia as a raccoon repellent, make sure it doesn’t come in contact with bleach, as this combination is potentially dangerous and can lead to the creation of a poisonous gas. Again, in what concerns raccoons, the chances of them leaving your attic because of some pungent ammonia odor are extremely minimal.

It’s important to understand how urban and suburban raccoons have been constantly evolving since they’ve invaded our cities and countryside – talking about physiological, not physical evolution. The comfort and safety of our urban structures have gradually taught raccoons that the shelter and constant food source our homes offer them is way more important to their survival than keeping away from unpleasant smells. And as female raccoons usually take care of their young for the whole first year of their infant lives, this knowledge is naturally transmitted from generation to generation. This being said, it’s hard to see why a raccoon would leave the security of your attic or chimney – the best urban environment for them to give their young a great start in life – just because they would prefer a place that smells different.

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