Although they look cute and cuddly, raccoons are highly intelligent, destructive and adaptable animals. Raccoon populations are even able to survive in urban areas by sharing resources with humans — seeking shelter in and around apartment buildings and finding food via scavenging nearby.
So what can you do if you have a raccoon problem near your apartment? Learn how to eliminate food sources and potential nesting sites to discourage raccoons from living near you and work with your landlord to make sure they’re evicted for good.
Preventing a problem
Females are attracted to potential den sites based on the availability of food sources in close proximity. The presence of food can also contribute to raccoon populations growing rapidly in urban and suburban areas. For these reasons, eliminating sources of food is the first step to ridding yourself of a raccoon problem.
Make sure trash is inaccessible. Raccoons are attracted to trash cans and dumpsters with easy access. If garbage is left outside, it should kept in a heavy trash can or dumpster with a secure lid. Additionally, you should never leave trash outside your door, waiting to be taken to the dumpster.
Don’t leave pet food outside. Pet food that’s put outdoors should be brought in before nightfall to keep raccoons from finding and eating out of your pet’s dish — even on your balcony.
Bring in bird feeders at night. Similarly to pet food, raccoons can be attracted by bird feeders that are left out at night. Make sure to bring in your bird feeder at night to eliminate a potential food source.
Pick up fallen fruits and nuts. Raccoons will also venture into your yard for the natural food that falls off the trees. Keeping it cleaned up will limit the food that’s available and make your yard less attractive to raccoons.
Put a fence around community gardens, fish ponds, compost piles or newly installed turf. Raccoons can also find food in community gardens, fish ponds and compost piles. The best way to keep raccoons out of these areas is by installing an electric fence. Ordinary fences don’t hold up well as raccoons will dig under, climb over or find a way through them. However, an ordinary fence can become raccoon-proof by adding a single electrified strand of wire 8 inches above the ground and about 8 inches out from the base of the fence. Make sure the fence is active at night. This type of low electric fence can also be installed around a newly laid sod lawn to prevent raccoons from rolling it back in search of insects or grubs. It can be removed once the turf has taken root. These fences can also be used around decorative ponds to protect koi and goldfish from raccoons.
Never intentionally feed raccoons. You shouldn’t try to feed raccoons and you should discourage your neighbors from feeding raccoons. A readily available food source will only attract more raccoons and create and even bigger problem. It’s also important to note where there are larger raccoon populations, there’s an increased incidence of disease.
Reduce potential nesting sites. Seal off any potential entry points to your residence — chimney’s open spaces beneath structures — using 10-gauge 1/4- or 1/3-inch galvanized hardware mesh. Additionally, make sure the area around your dwelling is free os debris, overgrown shrubbery and overhanging tree branches. To ensure raccoons don’t have access to your roof or balcony, make sure there is a 5-foot gap between them and the nearest tree branch.
Addressing a problem
If you’ve noticed evidence of raccoons around your apartment — tipped over trash cans, damage to your garden or fish pond, a spilled or emptied pet food bowl, knocked over bird feeders, a disturbed compost pile, tracks, droppings or raccoons — work with your landlord to get the problem solved.
You can start by taking the preventative steps above to eliminate food sources and access to nesting sites, and making sure your landlord has notified your neighbors to do the same.
In the event the preventative measures don’t encourage the raccoons to move on, you may have to contact a wildlife professional through a local wildlife agency, your city’s department of animal control or a wildlife removal service to trap and remove the raccoons.
In most cases, landlords should pay for the pest control to remove the raccoons and to fix any damages. However, if a tenant is found responsible for attracting the raccoons by intentionally feeding them or other means, then the tenant can be held accountable for their removal and any repairs associated with damages they made.
Once the raccoon problem is eliminated, landlords should include specialized instructions in the lease agreement or in the lease addendum concerning preventative measures to reduce the risk of a raccoon infestation in the future.