At first glance, raccoons are pretty cute. They are fluffy and look like nature’s little bandits with the black around their eyes.
As anyone who has encountered raccoons can attest to, they are definitely something that homeowners do not want to deal with.
Raccoons are also famously nocturnal animals that can leave you with a mess on your hands in the morning. Raccoons, like other pests such as squirrels, are simply looking for a warm, safe place and a consistent food supply.
If you have found your garbage can tipped over a time or two, it is probably because these nocturnal bandits have tried to get at it.
Racoons can even climb up and down your gutters in an attempt to find shelter and food. Depending on the condition of your gutters, as well as the weight of the raccoon, this can lead to damage to the gutters.
That means costly repairs or possibly a completely new installation.
1 – Trim Back the Trees
The most likely reason that raccoons can get onto your gutters and your roof area is because there are overhanging tree branches. Raccoons will climb the trees and then use the branches to drop down onto the roof or gutters.
Start by trimming back the overhanging branches in question. Make sure to leave a minimum distance of 10 feet between your house and the trees; this should be more than enough distance to keep the raccoons from dropping in and making their unwelcome presence felt.
2 – Metal Screens or Coverings
Another great way to keep raccoons from making their way up and down your gutters is to close off access. Much like you would for a garden, get a metal grid screen or some kind of covering that prevents the raccoons from climbing.
It is a good idea to attach these coverings to all other kinds of openings, as well as chimneys and vents that may be in the walls or on the roof. Make sure that they are firmly attached, however, so that the raccoons do not pull them down or open.
You might also want to consider using a plastic foam or sealant to close off any of the gaps that can be around a chimney or the vents. Raccoons can get into quite small spaces, taking up residence and creating a new home.
3 – Reduce Clutter
Raccoons can be particularly difficult to remove in areas that have a lot of clutter. They are much bigger than your average pest, but they use clutter as a way to disguise themselves and to set up their new homes.
If you have any construction materials or firewood stored outside of your house, make sure to store it neatly and without many gaps. This will make it difficult for the raccoons to find room, forcing them to regroup and find living space elsewhere.
4 – Eliminate Food Sources
Again, raccoons are simply looking for a reliable food source and a safe place to live. If they manage to find that on your property, they are going to hang around and eventually shimmy up the gutters. Over a long enough period of time, this can result in major damage to your gutters.
So, make certain that there are no food sources available for the raccoons. If you normally store pet food or bird seed outdoors, make certain to put them in pest-proof plastic containers that will take far too much effort to work through.
Your garbage can is also the biggest source of food for most raccoons. If you store it outdoors, invest in a heavy-duty garbage can that will keep them from being able to get in or tip it over.
Food is the single biggest reason that raccoons will attempt to explore your yard, climb your gutters, or enter your home.
Cutting off their food supply and getting rid of raccoons should be a relatively easy endeavor.
5 – Metal Sheeting
Should the raccoons be particularly fond of climbing your gutters, you can place some metal sheeting at the corners of the house close to the roof. Install plastic or metal sheeting or you can create a metal funnel that gets placed around a tree that is nearby.
This won’t keep raccoons out of your yard, but it will deter them from climbing the gutters. Keep that in mind if you expect this method to get rid of them entirely.
If anything, they will just find other avenues or will look in other areas of the yard for food and shelter.
6 – Electric Fencing
This is a bit of an extreme, but it can be highly effective in keeping raccoons away. You can buy and install electrical fencing and place it around gardens, ponds, gutters, garbage cans, or whatever else that you don’t want the raccoons to get near.
Make sure that when you construct the electric fence, there aren’t gaps wider than three inches. Young raccoons will be able to get through those gaps relatively easily and you’ll still have a raccoon problem to contend with.
7 – Use a Pest Guard
There are strips known as pest guards that were specifically created to keep pests such as raccoons from hanging around and climbing on your home’s guttering. These pest guards are generally spikes, nails, or wire that can be wrapped around trees and gutter downspouts.
The pest guards will have spacing over the entirety of the sheet that is around an inch apart. This makes it nearly impossible for raccoons and other critters to climb up without being pricked.
Make sure that you purchase a product where the protrusion sticks up by at least two inches. This is meant to prevent the raccoons from using their legs to climb over the surface of the gutters.
Some people don’t like this option because it can be unsightly on their gutters, but it makes for a highly effective method of getting rid of raccoons. When in doubt, you can also create your own pest guard.
It is easy to create a pest guard out of wire or nails relatively inexpensively, probably less expensive than you would find at the store. Plus, customizable guide wire can be created to fit the entirety of your guttering system.
It is imperative that if you create your own pest guards, to angle the nails or wire in a specific manner. Make sure they are angled toward the ground; if they are pointed upward, raccoons can actually climb over them since their body fat and fur will keep them shielded from the sharper points.
8 – Install Down-Facing Funnels
If your gutter has bends or sections that are detached from the wall, you can install down-facing funnels. The open end should be wide enough that the raccoon won’t be able to reach over it and keep on climbing.
You can even add length to the funnel so that there are no longer gripping points for the raccoon and their claws.
Install down-facing funnels from the ground up. If you do this, you shouldn’t put metal sheets or sharp wraps along the ground because pets and young kids can get poked by the edges or sharp points.
If there is a concern, start your installation four to five feet from the ground.
While this will still allow lower level access to the gutters for the raccoons, they will reach the blockade of the down-facing funnel. This will keep your gutters protected, especially at the horizontal gutter runs.
Just make sure that you have three feet or more of protective barrier.
9 – Use Chemical Repellents
There are also plenty of repellents out there meant specifically for rodents. These chemical repellents come with a natural irritant or scent that will discourage climbing over the sprayed surface.
It is imperative that you follow manufacturer directions exactly as they state. Deviation can mean that the product doesn’t work the way that it is meant to.
Also keep in mind that using a chemical repellent can become irritating or dangerous for young children and pets. Keep them away from any areas that you may have sprayed until you can be certain that the raccoons will not be returning.
10 – Audible Repellents
One of the most recent trends in pest removal is using a low-range frequency that only certain types of animals can hear. Much like a dog whistle, this high-pitched noise is something that raccoons and other rodents can hear, but humans can’t.
These ultrasonic devices can make for a highly effective way to deter raccoons from not only climbing gutters but visiting your yard at all. Check out some reviews before purchasing an ultrasonic unit as some have been proven to be ineffective.
In the end, keeping raccoons from climbing your gutters comes down to a few things. Making sure that they don’t have access to food or shelter should be enough to deter raccoons from visiting your yard.
It is important to remain vigilant as raccoons can be quite determined. Any of these methods should prove effective with enough time.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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