Although raccoons have affectionately been renamed trash pandas by the internet, these animals are not as cute and cuddly as the nickname implies. In fact, they will damage your home, terrorize your pets, and spread disease if they find their way onto your property. If you don't want to be harassed by these animals all summer long, here are three tips for keeping them away from your house.
Secure Your Trash
The reason raccoons have been bestowed the nickname trash panda is because they specialize in scavenging through garbage cans for food. These animals are very smart and, if your trash contains food scraps (especially fish and meat) on a regular basis, they will continually return to your home to raid your waste bins for sustenance. In addition to tearing apart garbage bags, these pests have been known to upturn garbage cans to get at the foodstuffs inside, leaving you to clean up the mess in the morning.
A good way to keep raccoons from invading your garbage is to put all garbage bags in cans and use locking lids. Alternatively, you can also secure the lids using bungee cords and by placing bricks on top. Remember, though, raccoons will try to tip the cans over to get at the foodstuffs inside, so this option may not work as well as intended.
If possible, keep the trash bins in a secure place (e.g. garage) until collection day. If you compost your organic waste, it's a good idea to either invest in a lockable bin or bury it at least eight inches in the ground. Since meat, bones, and dairy can cause your compost to smell and attract pests, it's best to throw these in the regular trash if you don't have a way to secure your compost.
Minimize Food Sources
Raccoons are scavengers and will take food from any source they can gain access to, including bird feeders and pet bowls. Thus, if you're having a problem with these animals in your area, it's best to minimize access to these food sources as much as possible. Although you may love attracting birds to your yard, you may have to leave the feeders empty until you get your raccoon problem under control, for instance.
Avoid leaving bowls full of food outside for outdoor pets where raccoons can steal from them. If possible, train your pets to feed on a schedule so you know when to fill their bowls or place the bowls in an area that's difficult for raccoons to enter.
If you have a garden filled with delicious foodstuffs, the only way to keep raccoons from stealing your haul is to put a heavy-duty fence around it. However, placing a bowl of vinegar in the area may prevent them from approaching in the first place since they don't like the smell, and motion sensor lights may scare them away if they're bold enough to try to grab a few things.
Plug the Holes in Your Home
Like squirrels, raccoons are notorious for taking up residence in homes at the first opportunity. Thus, you need to inspect your house for openings a raccoon could use to get inside and patch them up. For instance, it's not unusual for raccoons to enter through pet doors. To keep this from happening, you may want to use an electronic door that will only open when it senses your pet's embedded microchip.
Another thing you'll want to do is keep the trees trimmed to keep the branches from hanging over your roof. This will stop raccoons from climbing these trees and gaining access to your home through the roof.
For more tips on keeping raccoons away or help with dealing with an infestation, contact a local pest control company.