We’ve written various posts about raccoons, raccoon latrines and concerns about the raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis). I received a question today about how to keep raccoons from coming back after a latrine has been identified and cleaned. It’s a good question, and one without a simple answer. I’ve looked through various sources and have found a wide range of recommendations. (Whenever I see such a wide-ranging list of recommendations, I wonder whether anything actually works.)
Home remedies include:
- Sprinkling pure soap flakes on the lawn and watering thoroughly
- Mixing bone meal in garden soil
- Sprinkling diluted tabasco sauce over fruits and vegetables (wash before eating, as you should anyway!)
- Lighting up the area where raccoons are a problem
Various commercial deterrent compounds are available, such as one that apparently has the scent of a coyote, or one that’s a combination of vinegar, pepper and sulfur.
Another approach is motion-sensitive deterrents. Motion-sensor-based lights can be useful since raccoons often come rooting around in the evening or overnight, and lights that turn on when they approach could be effective. These would require a power source, which could be limiting in some places like sheds. Similarly, motion-sensor based systems that spray water or citronella (sometimes used to keep cats out of certain areas or off countertops) could be useful. Battery-operated units could be used anywhere. (Here’s a link to one. I’ve never used it but it shows you what I’m talking about). There are also motion sensors that hook up to hoses.
One problem with deterring raccoons is their intelligence. They can often find ways around deterrents, or adapt to them. Along with any attempts to actively deter the raccoons, it is also important to try to reduce the desire of the raccoon to come to the location. If there is a good food source or other desirable attraction, the raccoon will probably try harder to stay around. Tightly covering garbage cans and removing other possible food sources (e.g. food for outdoor cats) are important steps. Making sure neighbours (or other family members) aren’t feeding the raccoons is also important, because food is a great motivator.