How Are Raccoons Getting Into My House


04.13.2010 - Raccoons love to live in attics - for the warmth, shelter, and as a safe haven in which to raise a litter of baby raccoons. But how do they find their way into the attic in the first place? Usually, they just rip part of the house open! But it's not at random. Like any animal, they'll take the path of least resistance. So they'll usually take advantage of an area that's already a bit open, or easy to tear open. In the case of the above photo, one of my readers sent me an email, with this great photograph attached, showing a raccoon who has torn a hole in the roof, at the end, near the gutter, in order to get into the house and attic. It looks to me like there was metal flashing around the edge of the roof, but it was missing in this area, and the raccoon was able to pry away the wood and rip up the shingles in order to get in. Who knows, it might have been the raccoon that tore away the metal flashing, but not necessarily. Maybe this area of the roof was damaged by a branch, who knows. Regardless, when a raccoon wants to get into a house, it usually has no problem ripping its way in. These are very strong animals with nimble hands.

I've found that the most common area raccoons use to gain entry into an attic is the area where a soffit meets up against the roof. But raccoons will also take advantage of gable vents, or even just rip right through the shingles and into the roof, like in this case. Below is the email that accompanied this photo. Usual sort of stuff, with, unfortunately, a bad wildlife trapper. I do it right - I go into the attic and remove the baby raccoons, and trap the mom, then fix the entry hole shut and clean the attic, and the whole job is complete in a day.

Hi David,

I'm currently working with a local professional to get Raccoons out of my attic. However, this whole thing is really stressing me out!

Currently, he has a large cage/trap on the roof over the hole we think is the Raccoon's front door. It has now been two night and no raccoon. I can hear it in the attic occasionally.

I probably shouldn't have read your site because the idea of it falling through my ceiling into my house petrified me. I haven't slept well in 5 days! I was hoping this really couldn't happen and then I read on your site that it can! Terrifying! I was glad to learn that my home insurance company might cover the damage. I'll be calling them ASAP.

Anyway, my raccoon professional is a little odd in nature and not as attentive as I'd like (our daughters know each other, which is why I picked him)... but what can I do to get him to expedite this removal. The idea of the raccoon dying in my attic or this going on for three weeks is enough to make me want to move out until it's over (not really an option). I also don't want the trap over the hole to cause the raccoon to try to burrow into my house or die in my attic (and I'm not sure if the "pro" cares about this).

Please, if you can, put my mind at ease and offer some advice... I've already paid the guy $300...

Thanks in advance,
Holbrook, NY

ps. attached is a photo I took of "our" raccoon. Cute, but not when it's in my attic!

For more raccoon removal info, or to hire a trapper in your town, visit How To Get Rid of Raccoons.

For more of my raccoon stories from the field, click for my full Raccoon Blog.

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Originally, raccoons lived in forests, close to the waterways, but over time they have learned to coexist with humans, choosing to dwell in urban and suburban areas. Raccoons spend most of their time looking for food, so it is not uncommon to find them snooping around your neighborhood or even around your house, but you can prevent these animals from breaking-in and establishing a den in your home. Firstly, you will need to know what attracts them to your house.

Unsealed Garbage
The first thing that attracts raccoons to your house is your trash. Raccoons are scavengers who claw, tear, and upturn trash cans to get your leftover meals. For this reason, it is advisable to tightly seal your trash, ensure none of it is spilled around the can, and if possible, restrain from taking out the trash until it is time to be picked up. Also, wash your trash cans regularly to get rid of smells and stains.

Do Not Feed Raccoons
While it is no lie that raccoons are cute animals, it should also be remembered that they are wild animals. Raccoons pose a threat not only to your property but also to your health. Feeding raccoons only guarantees that they will keep returning to your home until they ultimately breach your house security and begin living with you.

Pet Food Remnants
Raccoons eat anything, your pet's food included. When feeding your pet, try as much as is possible to feed them indoors. Should you feed them in your yard, ensure there are no droplets or remnants anywhere, as this attracts the raccoons to your home.

Holes and Spaces
Most raccoons that break into houses often look for small spaces at least 3 inches in diameter, that they can squeeze through. Once they can get their head through that space, it won't be difficult for them to squeeze the rest of their body through it. So it is necessary to inspect your house and seal off all spaces.

Roofs and Chimneys
Raccoons target roofs, air ducts, vents, windows, and chimneys to get into houses. Their claws help them scrape and burrow through obstacles. Nonetheless, you can seal off your chimney by installing a chimney cap. Once a raccoon gets into the house, it searches for a warm and hidden place to build its den.

The best way to keep your house safe from a raccoon invasion is to embark on preventative measures ahead of time. However, there are a few things to do to chase them away if they are already around your house.

Use devices such as portable radios or a bright source of light to scare them away in the dark.

Call for professional help to get rid of the raccoons.

Ammonia-soaked rags can be helpful to drive them away because of its smell.

Tend your yard. Remove paper, leaves, shrubs, weeds, and trim trees.

Raccoons are interested in one thing - food. If you can prevent them from finding anything to eat, after one or two times of their coming around, they will leave your environment for good.

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