Known for their characteristic bandit masks and mischievous antics, raccoons can cause major headaches when they set up residence on your property. These nocturnal mammals are increasingly drawn to urban areas in Houston for shelter and food sources. Once nestled into your attic or chimney, raccoons become a nuisance with their mess, noise, and possible structural damage. Raccoon removal Houston while sealing up entry points is key to reclaiming your home. This guide covers effective, DIY-friendly tips on identification, exclusion, trapping, cleanup, and prevention when dealing with persistent raccoons.
Why Raccoons Invade Homes
Raccoons gravitate to residential homes for several reasons:
- Shelter – Attics, chimneys, and crawlspaces offer protected areas for nesting and raising young.
- Food – Unsecured trash, pet food, garden crops, and local water sources draw raccoons.
- Safety – Urban areas provide safety from some predators like coyotes and foxes.
- Warmth – Insulated attics retain more warmth attractive to raccoons in winter.
Common entry points into the home include openings in roof vents, under eaves, around chimneys, through unscreened windows or doors, and at foundations. Raccoons may also come down chimneys if dampers are left open. Any access larger than about 4 inches square allows entry.
Signs of Raccoon Activity
Look and listen for the following clues to determine if raccoons have made themselves at home:
- Noises – Chittering, scratching, walking noises, especially at night when they are most active. Listen in the attic.
- Tracks – Look for hand-like, five-toed paw prints around suspected entry points.
- Droppings – Distinctive tubular scat is often left in attics and near nests.
- Odors – A strong musky smell comes from scent glands and raccoon urine.
- Evidence of feeding – Ripped up shingles, torn vent screens, emptied trash cans, or holes in walls to access indoor space.
- Visual sightings – Glimpses of the raccoon’s ringed tail, masked face, or stocky body.
Risks of Having Raccoons Around
Raccoons can cause various problems if they take up residence on your property:
- Structural damage from nesting and moving around in tight spaces.
- Fire hazards and short circuits from raccoons chewing electrical wires.
- Contamination of attic insulation with feces and urine.
- Noise disturbances from nighttime activity.
- Exposure to parasites like roundworms from droppings accumulation.
- Aggressive behavior when threatened, especially from mothers protecting young.
For long-term control, the goal is to exclude raccoons by permanently sealing up all possible entry points into the home. Walk around the property and inspect for holes or gaps where utilities enter, around vents, roof edges, under eaves, between chimney flashing, or at the foundation. Use strong materials like cement, commercial sealants, galvanized steel or hardware cloth, metal pipes, or wire mesh to close openings and cracks wider than about 4 inches across.
Chimney caps and vent hoods prevent access through these routes. Ensure covers are made of sturdy galvanized steel, plastic, or concrete to prevent raccoons from chewing through. Continue exclusion work until no openings remain through which raccoons could squeeze and re-enter. This shuts down the home as shelter and food source to drive away current and future invaders.
Once entry is secured, trapping is the best method to remove raccoons humanely from inside the home. Two options work well:
Cage traps – These metal enclosed traps lure raccoons in with food but prevent escape. Place traps near active areas. Once caught, covered traps keep raccoons calm until release is possible. Release any trapped raccoons outdoors at least 5 miles from the capture site.
One-way doors – These devices allow raccoons to leave attics but not re-enter. Install over main entry and exit holes once other openings are sealed. Continue monitoring until all raccoons vacate.
Check traps daily and relocate captured raccoons promptly. Monitor for several weeks until no more sightings or sounds, indicating complete removal. Then seal final exit points to prevent re-entry. Spring and summer are ideal times to avoid separating mothers from dependent young.
The following natural scents and substances may help repel raccoons from your home when used abundantly:
- Ammonia or vinegar-soaked rags around den openings
- Coyote or predator urine near entry points
- Bars of deodorant soap around the yard
- Capsaicin or chili pepper powder where raccoons traverse
- Motion-activated lights to startle nocturnal prowlers
- An outdoor radio tuned to talk radio stations
Repellents won’t drive out entrenched raccoons but can encourage reluctant stragglers to leave and seek shelter elsewhere once exclusion is done. Reapply repellents frequently for best results.
Cleanup and Disinfection
Once raccoons are successfully removed, a thorough attic and home cleanup helps remove all signs of the invaders:
- Remove all nesting debris, droppings, urine stains, and dead raccoons if present. Wear protective gear to avoid diseases.
- Disinfect soiled areas and wood surfaces with enzymatic cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or bleach solutions.
- Seal off entry points between the attic and living spaces to block parasites like roundworms from migrating inside.
- Install lighting, additional ventilation, and dehumidifiers in the attic to make the space less welcoming long-term.
With raccoons gone, take steps to deter future issues:
- Inspect exclusion work and seal any overlooked gaps or openings.
- Trim back tree branches and bushes that allow roof access.
- Remove food attractants by securing the trash and pet food.
- Use nighttime motion sensor lights and sprinklers to deter prowlers.
- Set humane traps or trail cameras to monitor for recurring raccoon activity.
With persistence, Houston homeowners can reclaim their properties from destructive animals and insects humanely. Don’t tolerate sharing your space with these messy masked bandits! By sealing up your home, trapping smart, and staying vigilant, you can successfully complete the process of squirrel removal, rat removal or raccoon removal.