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7 Tips to Catch a Raccoon

7 Tips to Catch a Raccoon

Raccoons are common pests in many parts of North America. They are scavengers who can find their way into homes through pet doors or other entryways. Raccoons can cause a lot of damage to your property and they can be dangerous to people and pets since they carry a range of diseases.

So how do you get rid of raccoons on your property? One option is to catch it by using a raccoon trap. In this article, we share with you how to catch a raccoon by trapping it and what you need to know before you do that.

Keep reading to find out how to solve your raccoon problem.

When Can You Catch a Raccoon?

Before you set out your raccoon trap, you need to check that you are allowed to catch them in your area. In some parts of the United States, you are not allowed to catch raccoons. Furthermore, in many areas, you are required to kill the raccoon after you have trapped it. To avoid breaking laws, check what the rules are in your area first.

In general, you can only trap raccoons when it is not baby season or if you have no other options and the raccoon is being destructive on your property. You can also trap them if it is in your shed, attic, chimney, or deck, regularly tears up your sod, or turns up on your balcony.

When Should You Not Catch a Raccoon?

There are times when you should not catch raccoons. If you have never caught one before, you might like to leave it to the professionals. Raccoons are smart, they have sharp teeth, and can spread diseases if not handled correctly.

You should also not trap raccoons when they have babies, if there are multiple raccoons on your property, or if there are alternative options available. If you are ever in doubt about whether you should or should not catch a raccoon, speak to your local wildlife control unit.

How to Catch a Raccoon?

Catch a Raccoon

Once you have checked that the local law allows you to catch raccoons, you want to make the catching as easy as possible and as humane as possible. You want to avoid causing stress or pain to the raccoon.

1. Choosing the Type of Trap

When trapping a raccoon, you should opt for as humane a trap as possible. The live cage trap is the kindest way to trap a raccoon. It causes no physical harm to the animal unlike the other two options listed below.

Other traps you might find include paw hold traps and body grip traps. As the name suggests, the paw hold traps the animal’s paw and causes it pain and stress. These traps are not recommended and may be illegal for raccoon trapping in your area.

Body grip traps are no longer commonly used as they are both difficult to set up and dangerous if you are inexperienced in dealing with them. The trap kills the animal by squeezing or choking it. It is extremely painful for the animal. Not only are they not recommended by wildlife trappers, but they could also be illegal in your area.

2. What Kind of Live Trap is the Best?

While raccoons are medium-sized animals, the trap needs to be extra-large to give the trapped animal enough space once it has been trapped. You should look for a trap that is between 32 and 42 inches long. Choose one that has a tight-closing lid and is strong enough to carry the raccoon’s weight.

Check that the trap is strong with metal parts and can withstand a range of weather conditions. Below you will find information on traps available. If you are not sure which trap is the best, speak to the staff where you are buying the trap and they should be able to help you choose the best trap.

3. Setting the Trap Safely

The raccoon is a nocturnal animal and they prefer damp and dark spots such as attics, basements, sheds, and woodpiles. Make sure to position the trap on a flat surface so it will not fall over once the raccoon is trapped inside. There are also other safety measures to adhere to.

While it needs to be in a place you know the raccoon frequents, the trap must be positioned so that children, your pets, or other animals cannot access it. If you are relocating the raccoon, try to set the trap in a cool area so the raccoon is as comfortable as possible until it is moved.

4. Use a Bait

The best way to ensure the raccoon enters the trap is to bait it with food that attracts raccoons. While they are scavengers who will eat most things, some foods will work better at attracting them than others. Bacon, hotdogs, sardines, marshmallows, and wet cat food all work well.

You can set up a trail of food that leads the raccoon to the trigger plate. You also need to ensure you put enough food in the trap, especially at the far end of it. Doing this is more likely to lead to a successful capture of the raccoon as it will have to enter the trap fully and therefore is more likely to trigger the trap door.

5. Checking the Trap

You need to check the trap regularly. There are rules about checking live traps and these vary between different parts of North America. However, they usually require you to check them every 24 or 48 hours. If a non-target animal, such as a squirrel has got caught in the trap, release them carefully.

6. Safe Handling of Trapped Raccoons

Because raccoons can carry diseases that are dangerous to humans, protect yourself during the raccoon removal. They might try to claw their way out of the trap or reach out and scratch a person near the cage. To avoid risking your health when transporting the raccoon, follow the guidelines below.

Before you move the trap, cover yourself in long pants and a long-sleeved top. Wear thick gloves, goggles, and a mask. Next, carefully place the trap inside a construction-grade garbage bag. This will contain the raccoon’s urine and feces, which can contain worms or eggs, during transportation.

When carrying the trap, hold it as far away from your body as possible. The raccoon could have rabies and pass it to you if it bites or scratches you. Place the trap on top of a hard surface, such as old wooden planks, inside your car.

Transport the raccoon to a safe site a mile away from your home and release it. Check the guidelines on the distance for your area, as some might recommend removing it about ten miles away from your home.

7. Rules on Relocating Raccoons

Once you have trapped the raccoon, you need to decide what to do with it. If your jurisdiction allows you to relocate a trapped raccoon rather than kill it, check the removal regulations and follow them carefully. There are several reasons why it is important to follow the rules.

For example, since raccoons carry many diseases, they could spread them to an area otherwise free from them. A raccoon that is located far from its habitat, may struggle to find food and water and die of starvation or dehydration.

Before you remove the raccoon from your property, you need to check if you can see its nipples. If you can it is a female that has babies. You need to release the raccoon straight away as its babies cannot fend for themselves and will starve without their mother. Arrange for the mother to be moved together with the babies.

How Can You Prevent the Raccoon From Coming Back?

How Can You Prevent the Raccoon From Coming Back?

Once you have removed the raccoon, you don’t want it coming back and having to deal with it again. What measures can you take to prevent the raccoon from returning? Raccoons usually enter a property in search of food or a place to build their nest.

The first thing you want to do is to ensure any food you throw away is in secure garbage bins with lids. If you have pets, feed them indoors as much as possible and avoid leaving their food outside. This includes their water bowls, too.

Since raccoons will get inside your home if they get a chance, ensure that access points to your home are sealed. An electric fence is an effective way to keep raccoons away from your yard as are motion-detecting lights as these will scare the raccoon away.


If you are considering trapping a raccoon, you need to first check you are legally allowed to do this. You also need to check whether you can remove it and release it in another location, or if you need to kill the trapped raccoon.

The best way to prevent raccoons from becoming a problem is to stop them from accessing food sources and shelter inside your home. If you have any doubts about dealing with a raccoon yourself, contact the pest control in your area.

If you have any questions about catching raccoons, you can write them in the comments section.

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