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How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons? Tips and Tales of Raccoons and Cats

Raccoons Are Smarter Than You Might Think

How smart are raccoons? Extremely smart. Much of my childhood involved a cat-and-mouse-like game between my family and raccoons—they found increasingly clever ways to sneak into our house and steal our cat Pumpkin's food, and we found increasingly drastic ways to stave them off.

Though you might think that humans are savvy enough to have everything under control, raccoons are clever creatures that are surprisingly difficult to thwart. Below I'll share my personal raccoon experiences with you and share some tips on raccoons and how to get rid of them.

How smart are raccoons? Very.  Very, very, very.

How smart are raccoons? Very. Very, very, very.

Learning From Experience

As I mentioned above, I've had enough personal experience with raccoons to know just how difficult it is to get rid of them.

As they might say in some of our local regions, raccoons "are HELLA smart!"

Though I live in a fairly urban area, we've always had raccoons. Typically, they'll slink around and poke around trash cans, but at one point during my childhood, the family of raccoons on my block decided that that wasn't enough. They wanted the good stuff, and the good stuff was inside.

They took to sneaking in through our cat door. We could always tell they had been in our home the morning after a visit (yes, we slept through a lot of these) because they left muddy footprints around the house. That never really got creepy until I woke up one morning to find them around my bed, which is on the second floor on the opposite side of the house. There's no food there, so that had all of us rather perplexed!

Aside from being creepy and watching young children as they slept, what did these clever creatures do once inside our home? They ate, of course!

They started with simple offenses like eating all the food in the cat bowl, but that wasn't quite enough, so eventually, they found where the entire bag of cat food was kept. They took to nomming on that; then they quickly discovered the concept of takeout and began smuggling bags out through the cat door and outside, where they enjoyed their food in the comfort of the lovely raccoon bistro below our back porch.

One night, we encountered two raccoons in the act—a mother outside the cat door, pulling the bag of cat food, and its juvenile kin on the inside, pushing. Aside from being wildly humorous (raccoon thieves! Caught in the act!), this was a rather dangerous situation, as we had a trapped, scared, and potentially dangerous animal in our house.

After this episode, we decided to get a locking cat door that only opened when a magnet affixed to our cat's collar was brought near to it. This door was no match for the raccoons. They quickly learned how to pick the lock with their claws.

After that point, we had to deadbolt and block the door each night. That did the trick, though unfortunately the critters moved on to new homes and did even more damage (more on that below).

How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons?

Personal stories aside, let's move on to the practicalities of getting rid of raccoons. How does one do it?

Well, here are some tips:

  • Keep all food waste locked up once you dispose of it outside of your home.
  • Get a magnet locking cat door: Maybe our family of raccoons was just particularly smart, and also, were they initially deterred by this door, they might not have bothered in the first place)
  • Get motion detectors that set off lights: This is a convenient feature for deterring uninvited humans as well as raccoons—unfortunately, the raccoons will quickly get bolder and stop caring, so this should not be your one and only measure.
  • Generally batten down the hatches: Make sure that your attic and chimney are sell sealed off to prevent raccoons from sneaking in, and check for any other structural weaknesses or holes in your home that might make it possible for raccoons to edge in.
  • Fences make for an excellent deterrent: Raccoons will always find a way to break and enter, but if you block obvious pathways, they might be more likely to go elsewhere
  • Powdered fox urine only goes so far: As I mentioned above, raccoons quickly get used to lights, and Edweirdo agrees, plus adds powdered fox urine to the basket of "raccoon deterrents that only go so far." Looks like raccoons adjust to that stuff too... plus.... how do people collect the stuff? Gosh, it brings up some funny imagery.
  • Keep trash bins in the garage: This is an excellent way to make sure raccoons aren't finding a regular food source on your property—plus reduces the chances of them making a royal mess, too!
  • Pour hot sauce all over your garbage: They'll probably not want to come back after that!

When It Is Time for More Drastic Measures

Raccoons in the Attic

After going for our home, our raccoons decided to take on the neighbor's house. They ended up building a weekend chalet in what would be her attic, but it was more like a crawlspace between her ceiling and roof.

You do not want to know the kind of disgusting mess this produced. All you need to know is that the resulting mess was gross, very expensive, and a general nightmare. This kind of situation should be avoided if at all possible and dealt with as quickly as possible.

If you find raccoons trying to nest in your attic, you need to call pest control. They will handle anyone still in your attic, and may also set traps in your yard. It's not going to be a fun experience—the calls from a trapped raccoon are devastating and rather freaky. I know this from experience. But I suppose it's what you've got to do.

When picking a pest control service, though, try to go with a humane one; one that relocates raccoons to the wild instead of just killing them outright. THEY didn't choose for human civilization to move into their habitats, right? Or at least, they don't deserve to die just because they're clever.

In the comments below, s.carver shares that there are plenty of catch-and-release programs out there and that the ones she has encountered in her experiences even baited traps with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Now that's reasonable.

Also, aim for a pest control company that will sanitize your attic after removing the raccoons: I think you'll share my personal dislike of the idea of scraping months' worth of raccoon poop off a poorly-ventilated attic floor. As you'll see on Critter Control's website, a complete pest removal process includes not only inspection and pest removal, but also cleanup.

Rabid Raccoons

One of the scariest stories I've ever heard is the real account of a woman who had been attacked by one when walking to her home on a snowy day. This story was told in one part of a This American Life episode titled "And the Call Was Coming from the Basement," which first ran on October 27th, 2006. It is an excellent episode, and I've linked to it to the right. I highly recommend listening to it!

Make sure your cats always have an option to get AWAY from raccoons.

Make sure your cats always have an option to get AWAY from raccoons.

Raccoons and Cats

If you have a pet cat, you might be particularly interested in knowing how much of a risk raccoons pose to your feline friend. Raccoons and cats often become associated for the simple reason that they both like food and water and are somewhat similar in size, so if you're catering to one with special, convenient food bowls and doors, the other might want in on all the fun.

How do cats react to raccoons?

When raccoons were in my home and backyard my cat was nowhere to be seen. She had the good reason to keep away from the family of raccoons on the block because not only were they bigger and fiercer, but they also rolled in packs, like big, sort-of-cute, furry gangs.

Hopefully, most cats have similar reactions to raccoons—they do the Aikido thing and "get off the line" and out of harm's way.

What can I do to protect my cat from raccoons?

If you have raccoons in your area, make sure that, if allowed to go outside, your cat is never kept in a cage or other enclosure that might trap it and prevent it from getting away (raccoons might come into said enclosure to eat its food, and the cat would have nowhere to hide).

Also be sure to get a locking cat door, and to make sure that your cat is inside each night before locking it.

If your cat ever gets in a fight with raccoons, you might consider making the cat an indoor cat—at least until the raccoon issue is handled.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Have you ever dealt with raccoons? Have you survived a rabid raccoon attack? Have any tips? Share your comments here!

Railroad on September 05, 2019:

Will antifreeze kill them or just make them sick for a while??

mothernature17 on June 30, 2019:

I have three stray cats me t

mother and baby and ever night they are outside in the back easting and the raccoon and her her two baby's come and I am afraid they will hurt the baby cats what can I do

Marcie on May 22, 2019:

I'm bottle feeding them..they r the cutest thing...I will release them in my property when the time comes that they need to find mates...I would do it again in a heart beat

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 21, 2018:

Yes, racoons are really smart. We have them visit our bird feeders every night. They even go to the door and glare at us when the feeders are already in by the time they come. on May 01, 2018:


Janice Alexander on April 23, 2018:

I have Trapped the mother raccoon but there are babies still under my bathtub. How do I get rid of them?

Alan on February 10, 2018:

i have two trees in my backyard & the raccoon climbs up the tree my gardener is going to cut down the branches from one tree & take out the other tree i myself have tried using the radio too it helps some

what but not much anyhow my brother will then put on the tree some sort of foil that the raccoon won't be able to climb up on the roof ever again

Barry on November 13, 2016:

Do not look at these pest as cute disney creatures. They are fine in the woods. Dangerous in your home. Forget relocation or any plans on being humane. Clemson uninversity grad student trapped and collared 10 from coast. Transported all the way to mountains. Within months, all were back at coast except 2. And they were dead road kill headed to coast. If you can use radio to move them back to woods, great. If simply moving to your neighbor, please be humane to fellow humans and put them down. And the sooner you attack the problem the less numbers you will have to exterminate. For future, find where entry was and build deterrent.

karen on June 22, 2015:

Last night, one hungry mother (and/or offspring) shimmied down a tree in our other-wise protected outdoor guinea pig habitat and made off and up the tree with one of my females (Bear). There is nothing as heart-wrenching as the alarm vocalization of a pet guinea pig when there's little you can do to save them. After shaking the tree and threatening the 'coon amidst Bear's frantic cries, I heard a loud thump, and suddenly she lay dead on the pavement next to me. Believe me, I'll be practicing the deterrents (along with better screening) that I've read about here. Otherwise, I'll be up for a second night doing guard duty for the remaining five piggies. Has anyone had success with fake owls working to deter?

Silva Hayes from Spicewood, Texas on January 08, 2014:

Back to report GREAT news! The raccoons are gone. We set up a radio tuned to an AM talk radio station and turned it up really loud. We bought four containers of tennis balls (so 12 balls) and poured the containers full of ammonia and let the balls soak in it for a few minutes. We set small glass containers all around the attic, full of ammonia with wicks torn from old tee shirt rags. We threw the tennis balls all around the attic into spaces that we couldn't reach otherwise. We left the attic light on and the attic stairs down. We left the garage door cracked open. We waited 24 hours, then climbed back up in the attic and spread a thin layer of flour all over the floor with a sifter. We waited another 2 days and then went up there today to check the flour on the floor. No prints of any kind. Yay! We will monitor closely and throw more ammonia-soaked tennis balls around about once a month. Thank you, BAMASCARELLA and SIMONE!

Silva Hayes from Spicewood, Texas on January 04, 2014:

I left something out of my comment -- we are starting out with loud talk radio, ammonia containers with wicks, AND tennis balls soaked in ammonia. My husband is at Target right this minute buying tennis balls. When he gets back, it's ON!

Silva Hayes from Spicewood, Texas on January 04, 2014:

The problem with raccoons is that although they look cute, they carry dangerous diseases, not only rabies, but these disgusting roundworms, plus fleas, and their poop is horrible and everywhere. In addition, they are terribly destructive, ripping out insulation and wiring and so forth. We are in the process right this moment of trying to rid our attic of raccoons, and we are starting with loud talk radio and ammonia containers with wicks. Hopefully we can get them to move out before they have babies! They got in about three weeks ago when we had new hot water heaters installed and we only discovered it yesterday. We set a Havahart trap last night but no results. Positive thoughts, please!

Zaina Hussein on December 09, 2013:

i think we have (or had one) in our attic. luckily, we are leasing with the option to buy, and we have 6 more months on our lease. the landlord had a pest/wildlife removal service came out, he insists we may have a few rats, but only limited to the attic, finding their way thru the garage accidently being left open somewhere along the line. well, i am pretty sure he is wrong. pro or not, a rat doesn't sound like a jumping 3 yr old (and i know what they sound like, i used to live in an apartment building underneath a brat who stayed up until 4am.). anyway, he came out, set a few traps. we have no food sources except the indoor cat dish and water bowl. i don't keep ANY food in our cupboards. i refrigerate cereal and have a metal breadbox. also, there is no garbage can in our house. at all. except a bathroom waste basket in our bathroom for kleenex and such. so anyway, this guy came out, basically told me i heard a rat (the rat musta weighed 25 lbs when he was jumping around above my daughter's bedroom that night. we put a radio in the garage. haven't heard anything since. but we have music on. will have fiancé switch it to talk radio. our house is concrete/stucco and pretty solid. The thing that bugs me sooo much, is, ok, i get there are animal lovers, and i like animals too, but, here is why i am not caring much about the whole *humane* thing regarding raccoons. they can be dangerous. they are known for having rabies and they will not back off a human. they are GOING out of their ways to get into an unnatural dwelling. yet, we arent allowed to kill them or even relocate them. it feels more like a money-making scam than anything else, having to call wildlife removal sources. i don't feel bad if the babies die because she leaves them behind. im more concerned about my daughter and my fiancé and myself not getting rabies. these raccoons don't care about me, and the feeling is mutual.

Dawna on August 04, 2013:

I rent the second and third floor of an older home. I do believe the third floor where my daughters room is,was an attic at one time! We have lived in this home now for 3-4 years now. With-in the 2nd year we had a squirl problem...landlord took care of it. Then a couple months later we heard sounds of an animal running from one end of the home...n then crawling through the walls down. We thought it was jus squirls...until I seen a huge raccoon starring at me as I was walking up the stairs on my way home! I was so frightened I unlocked the door and ran into the house screaming!! I finish work at 12midnight and reach home around 12:45am...after reading all these stories, I've come to realize the past few weeks this raccoon is becoming more known. I've now seen it almost everyday when I get home at the top of the metal staircase in which is right by my daughters windows! It normally waits for me to go inside then it makes it's way to the huge garden full of produce...then leaves some half eaten on the stairs for me to clean!My daughter has told me she can feel the raccoon underneath her feet while sitting. This raccoon is very big,not sure if its having babies soon or jus being a pig! I'm going to inform my landlord of ur site...and take care of it,as I'm scared I may frighten it,coming home from work...and who knows what may occur!!!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 20, 2013:

I hope those raccoons aren't giving you any trouble, stars439! Take care!

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on May 08, 2013:

Very interesting hub. We have a few raccoons coming to visit. God Bless You.

N C on March 31, 2013:

I have been fighting raccoons the past year who took over an old house; the amount of feces was incredible. They had started their invasion while the house was occupied, terrifying the residents by boldly walking the halls at night, stealing food, leaving a mess. We've cut down all the trees surrounding the house, bought mint trash bags. They hate eucalyptus and spearmint - they actually closed an air vent from within a wall where I burned eucalyptus oil to chase them away.

Initially tried the Hav-a-Harts but the critters just stole the bait and broke their way out plus here it's illegal to trap them without a license. Companies I'd called quoted $1,000+ a week with no guarantees. I tried posion which worked very well; only problem was half of them crawled into the walls and died.

I lucked out and met some guys who had just started their own trapping service with amazing rates. They used both non-lethal and lethal methods. The critters just bypassed the non-lethal traps, even though they were baited with marshmallows and sardines. It walked around the trap - both sides, obviously pondering how to get in without walking through the open door. Same night though it got caught in the lethal trap which is instant death.

To date, all methods, as far as I know, my count is about 15 down; hopefully, we're done. Now that spring is here we can start closing all possible access.

pestcontrolproduc on March 29, 2013:

This is really a terrific article, Simone. Just one word from my personal experience. It's usually legal to trap a raccoon but there are some cities where it's not legal to release the raccoon (and I'm pretty sure this applies to most of Canada). You could trap a raccoon on your city property and release it on your country property, but you couldn't (legally, anyway) trap a raccoon on your property and release it in a park. Kind of makes us all depend on exclusion and killing, doesn't it? It would be awful to have a raccoon tear up your attic, it fights you from the Hav-a-Hart cage, and then you get a ticket from a patrol officer when you release it in the park.

Murray David on March 10, 2013:

Our raccoons are back in the attic and I think they are having babies. That is it. We are calling in pest control. Last batch we trapped and transported a couple of miles from home .. well.. they were home before we were that night.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 22, 2012:

There's that, Mike. There's certainly that.

furniturez from Washington on August 08, 2012:

Racoons are little vultures! They certainly have the weight advantage over any cat, good ideas about keeping them away!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 09, 2012:

Interesting and funny! I'm working on a possum problem. Possums like cat food, too. :-) Enjoyed reading this hub.

Brittany from Buffalo, NY on June 12, 2012:

Nice hub. While it might seem like a good idea to call a pest control service or your local animal shelter, the reality is that many services will either kill the animal or relocate it and thus separate it from its clan. Animal shelters usually can't do too much about a raccoon either: since raccoons are Rabies Vector Species, you have to have a special license to handle them, and some shelters don't have that license. Even the shelter where I work, which has a wildlife rehab department, doesn't have the appropriate license, and we usually have to defer to the (very few) local wildlife rehabbers in our area licensed to care for RVS animals.

Radios work really well to deter raccoons from nesting on your property and in your home. Turn a talk show up to a volume you can tolerate for 48–72 hours, and then raccoons will relocate themselves. You need to give them 72 hours, though, because (especially if it's a family) the mother will build a new nest elsewhere before moving her kits. You can also soak rags in ammonia, place the rags in tin cans, and set the cans in areas where you don't want raccoons to nest.

vicar on May 07, 2012:

Could I have akirchner come over and do that jiggling thing for my raccoons. I do have a camera.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on April 30, 2012:

You'll want to contact animal control or your local animal shelter, kimbklyn.

kimbklyn on April 29, 2012:

what do I do with a raccoon I trapped last night? hes so scared and so adorable, I am fully aware of the mess they make, but I don't want him to die over just trying to survive?!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on November 18, 2011:

Daaaaaang Wesman Todd Shaw! I had NOT heard about that! Hahaa, my gosh! And if I were a raccoon, I'd stay away! Clearly you're a force to be reckoned with.

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on November 06, 2011:

It's always fun to read about ....virtually anything you are writing about, Ma'am.

I doubt you heard about it - but in Dallas not too long ago there was a major snafu where ....someone in an official capacity had trapped some raccoons, and left them in some cages sitting somewhere the open.

Well, I've no idea if these animals had been left that way for long, or not - but they were left that way, and nobody was around, and so someone let them out - but was caught in the act, or something - and it was a big fat huge toodle doo in the city, as the ..."criminal offender" was someone with some money, and a whole lot to say about it.

I think it all ended well for the "criminal" - but not after some courtroom nastiness, and such.

As for my personal raccoon stories - wow unto you, you critters that break into the Shaw farm chicken pens, eating the head off of chickens - wow unto you indeed.

(the Shaw Pater Familiaris tends to shoot them)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 23, 2011:

Oh my gosh, that's awful, Carrie! That's what we did after a while too, and though our cat's paw never got cut, she really HATED that door!

Carrie on June 22, 2011:

I got one of those locking cat doors and it was a disaster. Not only did the raccoon still come into the house but my poor cat got his paw caught in the door and couldn't get it out. Luckily I was home and heard him scream and was able to free him. His paw was sore for while but he was fine except he's very afraid of the cat door now even though I no longer lock it. I finally ended up just shutting the door to the room where the cat door is located at night and keeping the cat inside.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 22, 2011:

Whoah, that sounds like an epic move, Anthea Carson! Can't wait to read the Hub!

Anthea Carson from Colorado Springs on June 22, 2011:

You have inspired me to write a hub about a very dangerous chess opening called the Raccoon. It's based on the raccoons sneaky behavior.

David Sproull from Toronto on April 04, 2011:

You can talk to raccoons. The one's in the city have a decent grasp of what you're saying. The buggers are smart as hell!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 24, 2011:

Oh. My. GOD. That is SO going in the Hub!!!

LeisureLife from USA on March 24, 2011:

A simple yet effective solution to the raccoon problem is to pour some hot sauce all over the garbage. They won't come back.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 08, 2011:

Hey, anything can be cute (or delicious) until it starts ruining your roofing (or getting rabies and attacking you)!

rainmist from Las Vegas on March 07, 2011:

Thank you for your tips !

Everything will be disasters when there is too much .

I have ever think these smart raccoons are so lovely ,but i don't think so now ,they make me almost crazy !

Ren Chin on February 23, 2011:


Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 18, 2011:

Oh, interesting! I wonder how effective radios might be O_O

My only concern with those is that they'd wake up sleeping people, too! Hahaa.

whitton on February 18, 2011:

Nice article. There are a variety of motion-activated devices available you can use including flood lights, radios (set them on talk radio, as raccoons avoid human voices), sprinklers, and utlrasonic noisemakers.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 18, 2011:

Hahaaa!!!! THAT IS THE BEST RACCOON-DETERRENT METHOD I HAVE EVER HEARD OF!!!!! And hey, if it works... it works, right? Heheheeee!! Love it!!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on February 18, 2011:

Great information, Simone - I got rid of one by accident here in Central Oregon years ago on vacation!

I had just come in from the hot tub with the rest of the family and was standing at my computer trying to explain something to my daughter and her friend when I heard something right outside the door. It sounded like he was playing the garbage cans!

Without a thought, I quick zipped up the blind and there stood this raccoon looking at me through the French door. I almost had a heart attack. I dropped my towel and started screaming and jumping up and down. I was trying desperately to ignore the laughter that had erupted beside me as my daughter and her friend watched my jiggling jugs! Good lord!

But the raccoon reared up on his hind legs and I swear I heard HIM or HER scream and took off.....we never saw the blasted thing again!

However, I do not recommend this method unless someone has a video camera and can post it up on youtube and make some money...or America's Funniest Videos. It was totally mortifying and I STILL have to put up with my 30 year old daughter doing this imitation of me for all to enjoy.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 18, 2011:

Hahaa, while I look back and find it kind of creepy, I wasn't too bothered by it at the time (though my parents certainly were). I had a pretty active imagination, even as a tween, so I figured that little creatures and other things were ALWAYS sneaking around my room as I slept. That these particular ones left footprints was only a bit messy, really XD

Edward Zhang from Bay Area, CA on February 17, 2011:

How did you feel, waking up to find raccoons in your room?? How did you react? I'm curious!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 16, 2011:

They sure do! And they're loping around during the day, too!

Peter Allison from Alameda, CA on February 16, 2011:

Great advice - your story about the raccoons in your house, and worse, in your bedroom is CRAZY! I've seen a few this year already. They seem to get bigger every year!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 16, 2011:

Yeah, they can be pretty cute! I think their wittiness makes them even cuter, but the cute factor goes way down when they do damage to homes, hahaa.

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on February 16, 2011:

Bishop is full of these creatures! I've always been amazed at their dexterous little hands-I actually kinda like the creatures, but then, I am a sucker for every animal on the planet.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 16, 2011:

Thanks Edweirdo! I've added Shake Away to the Hub in an Amazon Capsule XD

And gosh, cjv123! That must have been a tough experience. I'm glad your Yorkshire Terrier is safe, though, and I hope the raccoons never come back!

Carol from Michigan on February 16, 2011:

We had a raccoon infestation in our fenced back yard. I called a wildlife exterminator but he wasn't humane. At the time, I had to be unemotional because we have a tiny elderly Yorkshire Terrier. It was them or our pet. They were going to lose. He only caught one - and he told me he takes them and shoots them. After he trapped the one and took it away, the rest haven't returned. Next time - I will try to find a more humane expert.

Thank you for these tips. You have a well laid out, and well written Hub. Good job! This was very useful!

Edweirdo from United States on February 15, 2011:

Thanks Simone! And FYI, the powdered fox urine is called "Shake Away", and it seems to work at least for a little while :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 15, 2011:

Wow, Edweirdo! These are the best tips! I'm definitely going to add your note about fences, lights trash cans, and powdered fox urine to the Hub. Gosh... I didn't even know people used that!

AND YEAH!!! THAT EPISODE!!! Boy, it really gets ones hair to stand on end. And it brings up some excellent points - I hadn't realized that rabid raccoons were an actual "thing" until I heard that show. O___O

Edweirdo from United States on February 15, 2011:

Raccoons freak me out! I'm a night owl and a smoker, so I spend lots of time outside at night in my suburban neighborhood. There's a wooded ravine behind the house, and the raccoons (and skunks) use it as a "highway" to travel through town. Since my yard doesn't have a back fence, when they come up from the ravine they travel along my driveway to get to the rest of the neighborhood!

Imagine standing on the porch in the dark and looking down to see a raccoon looking back at you (or worse, a skunk!)

I found that a fence is the best deterrent - I put one up next to the driveway, so now the critters still use my yard to invade the neighborhood, but they come and go on the other side of the house - where I don't see them!

I found that lights are useless - these critters get brazen after a short while - and powdered fox urine (available at Amazon!) seemed to work for a while until they got used to it.

I've resorted to keeping the trash cans in the garage now, so there is less incentive for them to visit (except on pickup night).

My family long made fun of my wariness about raccoons - until I shared that same "This American Life" episode with them! Raccoons are the number-one carrier of rabies in the U.S., so they are no joke. Unfortunately they are really, really cute, so it's hard to hate them!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 15, 2011:

Thank so much!! You make a great point about the catch-and-release services. I'm going to add that to this Hub!

s.carver from San Francisco on February 15, 2011:

Great hub, Simone! Lots of useful information. I think there also are animal removal services you can call to trap an unwelcome raccoon and release it somewhere less populated. I remember my parents called in one of these catch-and-release services on a number of occasions, and baited the traps with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!