Once you have a shed, a natural question is how to keep raccoons away as well as other unwanted visitors out of it, namely wildlife. While most people think of mice and rats, some larger critters can get in as well. These can cause all kinds of havoc, climbing all over things and knocking stuff down in their quest to find a way out or just to see if there’s anything interesting in there.
They can even decide that your shed would be the perfect place to have and raise their young. If you didn’t plan your shed as a wildlife nursery or amusement park, you want to know how to keep the visitors from visiting.
To keep raccoons away from your shed, make sure you don’t store any food item in it. You can also install wire around the perimeter of the shed.
Raccoons are not the most common visitors you may have in your shed and once you know how to keep raccoons away it will keep them from damaging your stuff.. The smaller vermin, such as mice, are far more likely to find a way in. They don’t require a very big hole, and it’s easy to overlook a mouse hole in your wall, depending on where it’s placed.
Raccoons, however, are adept climbers and can cause a lot of damage by running all over the stuff on your shelves and climbing on things. They are also very curious about everything. Look how much fun they can have investigating your oil cans and lawn care tools. You surely don’t want them in your shed.
How Do I Keep Raccoons Out of My Shed?
One good way to prevent a raccoon invasion is to not keep anything in your shed that may invite them. While it may be convenient to keep that extra 50 lb. bag of dog food stored in your shed, a raccoon (or any other critter, for that matter) can smell it.
Even bird seed can attract them if food is scarce, and of course, your household garbage contains all sorts of interesting scents. Keep the potential food and water out of your shed and they won’t be interested in the first place.
How Do I Keep Raccoons from Getting Under My Shed?
Besides keeping items of interest to raccoons away from and out of your shed, there is a good way to seal off the underside of a raised shed. If you have a lot of wildlife around, this next tip should keep out raccoons along with any other digging animal that may snoop around.
First of all, check with your local utility companies to see if it’s okay to dig around your shed. Then dig a trench all the way around the shed, at least six inches deep and a foot wide. You’ll need some galvanized wire mesh with holes 1/3 to 1/2-inch in diameter but no larger. Use strips of this material about a foot and a half wide, or wide enough to go from your siding to the ground plus an additional foot.
What you’ll do is bend the mesh strip lengthwise into an “L” shape so you can fit one edge along the bottom of the trench while the rest goes up the side of your shed. The bottom edge should face outward. The other edge should extend up to a point on your shed walls where you can attach it to the shed.
Using a staple gun and heavy-duty staples is a good way to secure the mesh. You can also use screws with washers large enough to cover the mesh opening. Fasteners should be spaced every few feet and through any overlap so that the mesh is held firmly against the shed.
Then fill in the trench with soil. The aim is to have the mesh attached tightly enough to the shed so that a raccoon can’t drag it down. The bend in the mesh with the outward-facing section in the trench will deter any animal trying to dig a hole underneath the shed.
Once you get near the end of this job, if you have any suspicion that a raccoon or other creature may already be living underneath the shed, leave an opening in the mesh for him to get out. Cover it with a newspaper or sticks that the critter can get through.
You can also spread flour on the ground and check for footprints. Check this opening daily for a few days to see if either your tenant left or that there wasn’t one to begin with. Then you can seal up the remaining space. You certainly don’t want to lock any living thing underneath your shed.
How to Prevent Raccoons from Getting in Attic
Another thing to do when learning how to keep raccoons away is Trim any nearby trees that have branches leaning over the shed roof that will enable the raccoons to get to the roof from the branch. Inspect your shed all the way around under the overhang and patch or replace any deteriorated boards or siding that a raccoon may claw into to gain access.
If you have gable air vents in your shed, it’s a good idea to nail wire mesh over it on the inside. Motion lights can also help. Once the raccoon sees the light come on, he’ll probably get startled and get lost quickly. Don’t store your garbage cans by the shed. Not only does the smell of garbage attract the raccoons, but the cans give the animals something to climb on to potentially reach the roof or an air vent.
How to Keep Raccoons Away Using Natural Methods
If you have seen raccoons around, a good way to keep them away from your shed is to sprinkle cayenne pepper all around the outside. Raccoons seek food by smell, and one good whiff of pepper up the nose will convince them that this isn’t a good place to investigate.
Another way is to use a spray made from a bottle of cayenne pepper with a bottle of hot sauce, then add the mixture to a gallon of water. Shake it up well and spray it around the outside perimeter of the shed. Sprinkling Epsom salts around is another good deterrent. None of these items will harm your yard when they get washed away by rainwater. There are also commercial animal repellents available.
If you already have a raccoon tenant in your shed, try letting them know that you’re aware of them. Usually, if a raccoon sees you in the shed, especially if she sees you looking at them, they’ll decide that this place isn’t the penthouse anymore. Visit the shed a couple of times a day, stare it down so they see you and know you see them, and they’ll get spooked enough to leave.
There’s another solution if the stare-down doesn’t work. Raccoons don’t like to urinate anywhere near their dens. If you have a mother with young lounging in your shed, try using ammonia to get them to leave. Soak a cloth or two with ammonia and put it into a sealed jar or another container. Poke air holes into the top with an ice pick or other tool to let the smell permeate the shed. Any raccoon living there won’t stay very long.
If the raccoon has young, it may take a while for the eviction to finish. The mother has to haul out each baby one at a time and carry it out to a safe place. This may take a few hours, depending on the distance she has to travel and the number of babies she has.
The best thing to do is just leave her alone and let her do her thing, even if it takes most of a day. If you try to hurry things along, she may give up and leave a couple of young until the next day or whenever she thinks it’s safe to come back. You’ll really slow things down if you try to “help.”
Do Raccoons Burrow Under Sheds?
While raccoons will dig small holes to get buried treasure, such as acorns, berries, and bugs, they don’t usually dig burrow holes themselves. They will, however, take advantage of a hole somebody else thoughtfully left under your shed.
Skunks, foxes, armadillos, groundhogs or woodchucks, badgers and coyotes can all dig sizeable holes going underneath your shed. An abandoned woodchuck hole is perfect for a raccoon den, even if it might take a little redecorating. Another tip on how to keep raccoons away is to fill in any holes around sheds to prevent easy access.
If you have a hole going underneath your shed, you probably won’t know what is living in it unless you are lucky enough to find some good footprints on the dirt outside. Before you start the eviction process, you need to find out if the tenant has already moved on. Stuff some dead tree leaves into the hole.
If they are moved the next day, you know the hole is active. If there is a spider web growing across it or it already is stuffed with leaves, it’s not in use and you can ignore it until you find that another tenant has moved in.
You may be able to discourage a raccoon under your shed by leaving a bright light shining into the hole. Another trick is to get an old battery-operated radio and tune it to an all-talk station, then place it near the hole. Turn up the volume but not loud enough to disturb the neighbors. Raccoons get nervous when they hear people talking. They won’t like the lights or the perceived threat of people nearby.
The smelly solution may also work. Put your container with the ammonia-soaked rags near the entrance to the hole, preferably to the back of it so it’s less likely to be disturbed. Nobody’s going to like living in that hole after that. If all else fails, you may need to contact an exterminator to evict the raccoon or whoever is living in there.
How Do You Critter Proof a Shed?
Most ways to critter-proof a shed involve preventing the shed and the area around it from becoming too inviting or too easy a target to begin with. Some good ways to do this involve keeping garbage can lids fastened. Most newer garbage receptacles can be tied down.
Double bag any smelly food scraps such as meat scraps to cut down on the smell. Spray your cans with ammonia occasionally. Don’t leave food or water outside for your pets. Empty anything outside that catches rainwater and keep it empty. This is a good idea to keep down the mosquito population as well.
Keep crawl spaces covered tightly. Inspect any vents that let air into your crawl space and make sure the screens behind them are in good shape. Make sure that raccoons can’t climb up your trees and get at your bird feeders, especially if you offer suet cakes.
Raccoons think suet cakes are a prize. You may have to fasten some kind of slippery barrier around the trunk of a tree holding your feeder. You’ll also need to make sure squirrels can’t knock your feeder down where a raccoon can get to it easily.
Around the shed, don’t let any ripe fruit sit on the ground near your shed, even if it’s some small berries you don’t eat. They may look just fine to an animal. Cut back any tree limbs that may overhang or get close to your shed roof. They should be kept about three feet back from the roofline. Don’t have any brush piles or trash piles around the shed.
They not only attract animals but give them a leg up onto the shed roof. Periodically sprinkle cayenne pepper around your shed to discourage snoopers. This is especially important if you don’t have a firm foundation such as a concrete slab or if your shed is raised on skids or piers to keep animals from clawing a hole through your shed floor from underneath.
Inspect your shed around the base for any siding that may have water or moisture damage. Some kinds of siding can get easy to claw through once it gets wet, and you’ll need to patch or replace it. If your shed is raised a few inches, shine a light underneath once in a while to inspect your flooring carefully.
Most critters will get in near the walls, but a hole can be anywhere, so go slowly and see if you find any signs of digging or clawing at the wood, even if the critter didn’t get through. You can use the ammonia trick underneath your shed to discourage them from coming back and finishing the job.
How Small a Hole Can a Raccoon Get Through?
Raccoons can look big and fluffy, but some can get through surprisingly small holes. Even adults have been known to get through openings as small as three or four inches in diameter, so you don’t need a foot-wide gap to issue the invitation. Of course, once they have one of their cute little hands in a small hole in your water-soaked siding, they can always make it bigger.
Can I Live Trap Raccoons and Release Elsewhere?
There are many live traps available that will trap a live raccoon without harming it. Just bait the trap with a little cat food or dog food, trap the animal and haul it off to some woods somewhere. Easy, right? There are several problems if you try this yourself, however.
You may trap a mother raccoon in your shed that has young hidden somewhere outside nearby. This will mean that the babies just starve to death. Humanely trapping one raccoon while sentencing three to six babies to a slow death is just not that humane.
Even relocating a raccoon is itself not all that humane if you let him go in the wrong place. The wooded area you choose to release him in may already have too many raccoons than the available food sources can support.
He also won’t be familiar with the location of food or water sources in the new place. In addition, a strange raccoon coming into an area already populated will have to fight the existing residents for anything he gets. He probably won’t make it. Many don’t.
Last but not least, in most places, relocating a raccoon or other wild animal is illegal. Some states require that the animal you trapped either be released where it was caught, in which case you’re right back where you started, or they require euthanasia on the spot.
This is especially true in states that have a problem with rabies in wildlife, as raccoons can carry the disease. North Carolina, for instance, has this requirement and prohibits trapping and relocating a raccoon under any circumstances.
Most states have wildlife or game officials that will take care of this for you. You can call them once you have the raccoon trapped, but even this may be illegal. It’s best to call them before taking any such action. These officers know the best places to release raccoons and other wildlife. They have designated wildlife areas and know the best spots for each kind of animal.
Raccoons are pretty creatures, and their innate curiosity makes them fun to watch – until they get curious about your shed. If you have raccoons or other wildlife running around in your yard, prevention is the key to living with them.
It’s a lot easier to keep them out of certain places than it is to get them out once they’ve taken up residence. Just keep in mind what attracts them and keep it unavailable, and make sure any potential access is hard to get to or utilize, and you should be able to enjoy your shed and backyard without any trouble.