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Raccoon Trapping Tips & Methods

STEP 1: Purchase a large and sturdy steel cage large enough to hold raccoons. 12x12x36 is a preferable size. There are many good makers of cage traps, from Havahart to Tomahawk, etc.

STEP 2: Set the trap on a flat and stable surface in the area you are having raccoon problems. Make sure the trap doesn't wobble. Be sure the trap is set correctly, with appropriate pan tension. Make sure the trap is not near anything that a raccoon can destroy, because they will reach out of the trap once caught and tear up anything within reaching distance, like wires, screens, etc. They will also dig.

STEP 3: Bait the trap with non-meat bait. Meat will attract stray cats. White bread and marshmallows do well. Lead some of the bait up to the trap, and put some in the back of the trap, behind the trip pan.

STEP 4: Once caught, be very careful handling the trap. Do not stick your fingers inside the trap, or even hold it close to your body. Place it in the trunk of your car or bed of your truck and relocate the animal at least ten miles to an approved area.

If you're not licensed to trap and remove or relocate animals in your state, which you are probably not, it's illegal for you to trap and remove raccoons yourself. There are many intangibles and risks that make do-it-yourself trapping problem-ridden. I've seen an amazing amount of user error when it comes to trapping wildlife. Your best bet, although pricier, is usually to call a licensed professional. Below is an email that I recently received regarding a raccoon problem.

Other raccoon articles I've written:
raccoon in the chimney
raccoons in the attic
how to get rid of raccoons - house, yard, tree, roof
raccoons in the pool
how to trap raccoons
raccoon bait
raccoon poop
raccoon removal
raccoon pest control
raccoon damage
raccoon repellent
raccoon in the house

Tip number one: The first trapping tip that is essential to any task is: Are you allowed to trap the animal? There are some animal, like raccoons, that pose a serious health risk to people. If you’re inexperienced in trapping and don’t know a lot about raccoons, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re accidentally exposed to something sinister—like rabies. Because of this risk, most states require you to have a wildlife license to remove a raccoon from your home. If you live in an area where legalities aren’t an issue, the next thing you’ll need to figure out is what type of trap to use.

Tip number two: Decide where you need to set out your trap. Most raccoons in an attic won’t enter a cage trap set inside the building. Your best bet is to secure the device to the roof or rig it so the raccoon enters the trap once it’s left the interior of the home. One way door traps that lead into cages are popular, especially for raccoons that live in a chimney. If you’re going to trap the animal, tip number three is: Figure out what bait is best. For raccoons, though they’ll eat just about anything, using marshmallows or bread in your trap will decrease the chance of catching your neighbor’s cat.

Reader Email:
Hi, I have read your website with great interest. We have raccoon problems, namely raccoon triplets. We leave in suburban Philadelphia in a densely populated residential area. We do not barbecue or leave food out. (but our neighbors do.)

For about the past three weeks we have seen three, sometimes only two raccoons. I usually hear them coming across our kitchen roof and then they come down and go across a plant rail around our deck. I have taken a number of photos of them, and they do not seem to be afraid of much of anything. I think they are young, and I haven't seen a larger animal with them. I actually don't think they are foraging for food. They seem like they are out there to "have fun" We have sprayed them with a hose and they just climbed high enough in the tree so the stream of the hose wouldn't reach with any force. They actually looked like they might have enjoyed it. My husband has used a BB gun when they were in the tree. I have gone out swinging a long bamboo pole to try to get them off the deck area. That makes me uneasy, as there are three of them and I am now afraid one will jump off the roof on to my back. When I open my back door to go out, they are actually only 2 ft from my head!!! Last week they were up crawling around there in broad daylight, about 5:30 in the afternoon!! Most of the time I don't hear or see them until about 9:30PM. A few nights ago in the rain one was sliding around on the skylight right above where I sit at my computer.

We have just gone up to our attic and don't see any signs of them there, but I am almost positive they are in the soffits.

Our township game warden has given out all of the traps and suggested that I buy one, which I did, and he said he will "service it." It is a hav a heart trap. We have baited it three times and been unsuccessful at trapping anything. I know we are supposed to put it in their pathway, but I don't think we should put it on the plant rail or on the roof.

The first night we put it on a paved walk in our back yard and the next morning the bait was gone and the trap door shut and the trap was over into the flower bed. The warden felt that the raccoon had been caught halfway and struggled and struggled to get free and that's why the cage was in a different spot.

I am not sure where to turn next, as we have been unsuccessful at trapping them. The local warden said he was a little concerned that there were three of them.

Do you have any suggestions about how I can proceed? We are only about 3 miles from the city limits of Philadelphia and we have neighbors about 20' away on either side. Recently I heard that there was a TV program about raccoon problems in the city itself, but I didn't see it, as I don't watch TV. I will send photos in the next email.

Thank you in advance for any advice you might give.

Diane - I'm very surprised that the game warden gave you traps. Nevertheless, raccoon trapping is often very tricky. Follow the above steps, but if you're having bad luck, you may have to call a pro. - David

Trapping a raccoon - Trapping a raccoon is something that most states require be left to professionals with proper licensing. Raccoons carry a number of diseases, the most lethal of which is rabies. Because of the high prevalence of this fatal virus within the species, most states do not allow non-licensed homeowners to trap raccoons. If you are allowed to take this task on, you’ll need to purchase a cage trap, a one-way repeater or exclusion trap. or a special chimney trap — it depends on where the raccoon is located. Body grip or leg hold traps are best left to fur trappers, because they are difficult and dangerous for novices to set. When trapping in a house or attic, remember that most of these animals inside of a home are female. It is very rare, but not impossible, to find a lone male living in a building. If you can remove the babies without harassing the mother you should do so immediately. You can even use the babies as a lure to get the mother into a cage trap. Other methods entail securing a cage trap to the hole in the building and scaring the mother raccoon out and into the device. If you’re not keen on being too close to the animal, bolting the trap to the roof where the raccoon enters the building might prove successful. Remember to place traps on a flat surface where no debris or alarming tilt can scare the animal away.

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