Introduction: How to Remove a Raccoon From Your Attic - the Humane Way

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Finding out a raccoon has made a home in your attic can be a frustrating experience.  You cannot leave the raccoon up there and hope it makes its way out eventually.  Raccoons are clever and will hunker down and stay until evicted.  In the meantime, they will make a mess of your attic, tearing up insulation and urinating everywhere.  Fortunately it is possible to get rid of one yourself in a humane fashion.  Here is how you do so...

Step 1: Supplies Needed

Here are the supplies you will need to remove a raccoon:
Metal Cage / Animal Trap - found at most hardware stores
Spray foam
Peanut Butter
Wire - floral wire works great
Long sturdy pole - such as the end of a shovel

Bonus fun supplies:
Video camera that you can monitor remotely

Step 2:

Locate where the raccoon is getting into the attic.  You will need to seal off this area before you do anything else, otherwise your efforts to trap the animal will be unproductive.  

Look for any gaps in vents or soffits, particularly around the gutters and around attic fans or lights.  The hole they are getting in may be smaller than you think is possible.  Fill in any gaps with expanding spray foam to completely seal them off.

Step 3:

Ready the trap:

Take the pinecone and coat thoroughly with peanut butter.

Next, cut off a piece of wire about 12-18 inches long.  Take the wire and wrap it around the pinecone a few times, getting it securely in the pinecone's grooves.  Take the loose ends of the wire and secure them to the metal cage.  Placement of the pinecone is very important.  Attach the pinecone towards the middle-to-back of the cage, hanging from the top.  Do not put it directly against the side or else the raccoon will be able to reach it from outside the cage.  You need to incentivize them to enter the cage.  The pinecone must also be far enough back that the raccoon has to enter the cage far enough to set off the pressure sensor, which will spring the cage's door shut behind them.

A pinecone is recommended because it can be tightly secured inside the cage.  Loose food is easy for a raccoon to grab and run with, and they will not stay inside the trap long enough for the trap's door to close.

Step 4:

Take the cage into the attic and position in a clear area away from wires or other objects.  Spread out newspapers underneath the cage.  You want to do this because once the raccoon is trapped, they will make a mess, especially if trapped for a few hours.  Newspapers give you an easy way to clean up urine and feces that go through the cage.

Step 5:

Leave the cage in the attic and wait.  Now that the raccoon is trapped in there with no way out, they will eventually make their way over to the cage.  It might take a couple of hours, or a couple of days for them to decide to check it out.  The raccoon should eventually enter the cage, and once it does it will set off the pressure sensor and the door will spring closed behind it, trapping it inside.

If you have a remote viewing camera, put it in the attic where you can keep an eye on the cage without having to enter the attic yourself.  The more you go into the attic, the longer it will take the raccoon to work up the courage to approach the cage.  One note, if you are not using a camera to monitor the cage, be sure to check on it a couple of times a day.  You don’t want the raccoon to be trapped in the cage for too long, as it could start to get dehydrated or start injuring itself trying to get out.  You don’t want the animal to suffer.

Step 6:

Success, the raccoon has been caught in the cage!  Now that you have the raccoon trapped, it is important to use caution when approaching the cage.  Raccoons look very cute, however they can be vicious (especially when trapped and threatened) and will try to rip your face apart.  Do not get too close to the cage. 

Use a long pole, such as a shovel end or a boat hook, to lift up the cage.  This keeps a safe distance between your body and the raccoon.

Step 7:

The final step is to transport the raccoon far away from your house.  Aim to go 10+ miles away.  Release the animal in a wooded, non-urban area away from traffic if possible.  Be mindful of any local laws regarding trapping, transporting and releasing wildlife.  Raccoons are very smart, and if you do not release it far enough away from your house, it can and will try to make its way back – particularly if it had a nest or babies.