Updated: Dec 29, 2022
If you’re trying to catch yourself a trash panda, check out our post on what attracts raccoons to your yard.
Just kidding! Raccoons may be cute, but they can be a nightmare.
We’ve previously discussed what makes raccoons dangerous, but here’s a quick summary. These adorable animals carry a whole range of diseases, some of which they can transmit to humans and pets through their droppings. In some cases, they might even attack humans and pets, which may lead to injuries or infections.
Even if a healthy raccoon decides to turn your yard into its home, you can still expect damage to your trash bins, garden, and yard structures.
So, if you’d like to prevent raccoons from settling down, it’s important to know what it is that’s attracting them in the first place. Without further ado, here’s our comprehensive list.
Accessible Garbage Bins
Milkshake is to boys what garbage is to raccoons. There’s a reason why they’re nicknamed trash pandas! The number one thing that attracts raccoons to your yard is accessible garbage or compost.
They’re omnivores so just about anything marginally edible is a delicacy as far as they’re concerned. They’re also smart and agile, so they have no problem accessing the average trash can.
Raccoons love cat and dog food! Think carefully about where you store your pet food, and whether it’s in a spot where a raccoon can access it.
Leaving bags around your yard is recipe for disaster. However, even if you keep it in a shed or garage, it’s important to consider whether there are still entry points a raccoon could use.
While it’s not their go-to, raccoons will also happily snack on birdseed. They’re adept climbers, so they usually don’t have a problem finding their way up to bird feeders.
Even if your bird feeder is hung in such a way so that no creature can climb up to it, that might not be enough.
As birds come to the feeder, they tend to drop a lot of seeds to the ground. That fallen birdseed may attract a desperate raccoon if it cannot find other food sources.
Fruit Trees and Gardens
The final food source that can attract raccoons to your yard is your vegetable garden or fruit trees. These creatures are big fans of anything sweet, so trees with low-hanging or fallen fruits are likely to attract them. In your vegetable garden, strawberries, corn, peas, and even tomatoes might catch their eye.
Access to Water
Raccoons will wander through your yard in search of food, but access to water will convince them to stick around. Water, after all, is fundamental to every creature’s survival. All types of water sources can attract them to your yard, including leaky hoses, ponds, and holes or low areas where puddles can form.
With the basics of food and water out of the way, the final major thing that will attract raccoons to your yard is shelter. In the wild, they usually hide in tree holes, but there are plenty of spots in your yard that can seem more appealing than a big climb up a tree.
Raccoons will shelter in any enclosed space they can access, including the area under your deck or under piles of wood. Because they’re so clever, if there’s a way into your attic, basement, shed, or crawlspace a raccoon will find it.
What do Paul Simon and the average raccoon have in common? They both consider the darkness their friend.
The raccoon’s reasons for liking darkness are not quite as profound as the lyrics to The Sound of Silence. Raccoons are nocturnal so dark yards help them feel safe and hidden from predators. Installing movement-triggered backyard lights or just leaving the lights on for a while may help you drive raccoons away.
Keeping Your Yard Raccoon-Free
Ultimately, it’s the magic trifecta of food, water, and shelter that attracts raccoons to your yard. Raccoons tend to move around a lot, but they’ll stick around in a yard that features all of these essential survival elements.
Eliminating everything that attracts them might be enough to drive raccoons away. However, in some cases, these clever creatures can be quite persistent. In that case, your best bet is to call a professional to help you with expert rodent removal.