How to Discourage Raccoons

May 19, 2010

Raccoons spend the summer eating and by autumn their entire body, even their tail, develops a thick layer of fat. This fat build-up helps raccoons survive winters when food is scarce and little time can be spent foraging.

Raccoons do not hibernate. When temperatures are above 28° they will come out at night as usual; if below 28°, they stay in their dens. Raccoons are usually torpid in the cold weather, and in the north they may sleep most of the winter. By spring they weigh about half what they did in autumn.

Raccoons fingers are extremely sensitive. They like to handle, manipulate and rub everything that interests them. Often raccoons locate food entirely by touch.


Raccoons are attracted to suet, especially in early spring and again in the fall. In the fall they are attracted to suet because this high-energy food helps build their store of body fat for the winter.

Raccoons are what you might call “hit and run” eaters. They will swipe what they can get easily and run off with it. The best way to protect your suet offerings for birds from raids by raccoons is to provide a small piece of suet or pieces of corn-on-the-cob just for raccoons. Place these within easy reach, and you are likely to find your raccoon satisfied.


Raccoons can climb just about any tree or post in order to reach a birdhouse. Once they get to the house they manage to reach inside and pull out the eggs or nestlings. You can make your houses predator safe by placing a 1″ to 1-1/2″ thick block of wood over the entrance hole of the house. Drill a hole in the center of this block the same diameter as the entrance hole. Secure the block around the entrance hole, creating a longer entrance so the raccoons paws can’t reach the nest.

For houses mounted in trees, place a three-foot piece of galvanized metal around the tree. Secure with nail, with a loose fitting to allow the tree growth and air circulation.


One way to keep raccoons from getting into your birdfeeder is to mount the feeder on a smooth metal fence post. A galvanized waterpipe will also work. Raccoons can, how-ever, climb untreated metal posts and pipes. A pole baffle is your best bet to discourage this behavior.

Other effective devices include a large conical guard made from sheet metal attached to the post below the feeder can also be used. A two-foot length of 4-5″ PVC or stove pipe around the pole under the feeder. The raccoon will not be able to get a good hold on the smooth surface. Both these will also work with houses mounted on poles.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

James Hodges May 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

I have purchased Raccoon guards from
Duncraft to protect my bird houses and feeders from raccoons. This is the answer to this problem. I have solved my problem with these guards.

Mary Rempp May 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

I have boiled jalapenos in water; drained the pepper and sprayed around my patio with success. Seems to be keeping the critters away from the bird feeders.

Jodie C. May 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

I have raccoons in my yard. They don’t bother my feeders at all. They eat all of the spill over. But what worries me is that i saw a article about that their feces can have diseases. And kids or pets can get infected if they come into contact with it.

Bonnie Lin Nimerfroh May 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

If you have Raccoons and Foxes the best thing to do is feed them away from you home with Wildlife Mix or Dog Food which I do because most areas are being taking over by Housing and Roads and they need help in the Winter for Food. I still put out Treats every so often so they get a good meal!!!

Willa Garner May 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm

The raccoons are beautiful animals; however, they have descimated my nesting birds – eating the Phoebe’s babies on her first nesting, the eggs on the second; she started a third and gave up. It pulled the bluebird nest box apart and ate the about- to-fledge babies. This year it has eaten the chicadee’s eggs. I have set a trap with cat food, but so far, to no avail.

Rich Baker May 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I am able to control them by using hot pepper sauce. I dilute the sauce (the hottest sauce I can find) with water just enough so that the liquid can be sprayed. Then I spray the area, the food, and wherever they may walk. If it gets on their feet they will want to lick it off and then they will not approach. It works great on the feeder posts, the squirrel baffles, and trash can lids. If it doesn’t stay on the posts or other areas, I mix the hot sauce with petroleum jelly so that it will stick to the posts, or trash can lids even if it gets wet from rain. Then it will also stick to their feet which they will try to lick it off.

Jacob May 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm

For using traps to trap racoons bait with marshmallows. Its lkke candy to them and cheap

larry McNamara December 10, 2013 at 11:30 am

I got a section of PVC about 6 inches in diameter. I cut to fit from the ground to the feeder. the pipe moves freely from side to side.

I think it is to large around to get a grip and it has a slick surface. I think the movement makes it harder for them to get a grip. So far so good.

Jess May 22, 2015 at 8:53 am

One note, since I see this a lot on websites, NEVER USE PETROLEUM JELLY to discourage raccoons or squirrels. This will get into the birds feathers and they won’t be able to get it out, which renders their feathers useless. Come fall and winter when it gets cold, the birds will freeze to death. Please be kind and find another option, just don’t use jelly or any other oily substance.

Chris OBanion June 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

As a wildlife control officer I always prefer to see people attempt non-lethal methods when dealing with raccoon pests. Great article, good information!

Linda Brey June 30, 2015 at 7:47 am

I have tried the galvanized stove pipe around my feeder post and they still can climb up and raid my feeder.

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