I have raccoons in my chimney. How can I get rid of them?
First, are there babies in the chimney?
If you hear mouse-like squeals from above your fireplace damper, chances
are they're coming from baby raccoons. March through June is usually baby
time, unless you live in Florida like me, then it can be year round. If
you know that there are young in the chimney, wait as long as possible
before you attempt eviction. Not only will relocation of the nest be easier
on the older cubs but mother coons generally move the babies on their own
when they are about 8 weeks of age. So if at all possible, just
Raccoons dislike bright lights, loud noises
and strong odors.
Place a radio in the fireplace. Tune it to
a loud rock or talk station, with the volume set as high as you can take.
Leave it playing all day long, to disrupt the raccoon's sleep.
If the flue is partially open, some suggest placing
a bright light in the fireplace shining up into the chimney. Others
suggest closing the damper securely (to prevent the raccoons from falling
through) and hanging a mechanic's trouble light down the chimney.
Do NOT start a fire in the fireplace to smoke
them out. This can be dangerous to you and fatal to the raccoons.
Place rags soaked with dog urine (or predator urine
available at hunting supply stores) in the fireplace or lower them into
the chimney. DO NOT pour ammonia down the chimney or use ammonia-soaked cotton rags and/or
bags of naphtha flakes or moth balls! If there are baby raccoons in the chimney, concentrated ammonia vapors or other caustic mixtures can damage the infant raccoons' mucous membranes. They can also cause an adult raccoon to become extremely agitated while attempting to flee from the vapors and it may provoke an attack. Ammonia should ONLY be used in open spaces, such as a yard.
I have had people tell me that they have placed rope
or poles going down into the chimney which successfully aided the animals
in leaving. This is recommended in cases where your "guests"
are other than raccoons or if it is a smooth metal chimney. When you are dealing with baby
raccoons, there is the possibility that the rope or pole could lead to
Because of the danger of rabies and other diseases
and just plain agitated wildlife, avoid any confrontation with the raccoon
itself. A mama raccoon might misinterprete your intentions as a threat
and attack in defense of her babies. If a raccoon stratches or bites you,
it will have to be killed and tested for rabies.
To heighten your success, before evicting
the raccoon, you might want to make provisions for an enticing den for
the raccoon away from your house (this can be anything from a woodpile
to a wooden box with a small opening, perhaps lined with blankets).
You may want to make a trail of dry dog kibble leading to the den.
Keep pets inside while eviction proceedings are under
way. Mama raccoon might not move her babies if your pets are outside.
Unless it is one recommended by a rehabber, call
animal control or pest removal services as a last resort.
Very few relocate raccoons and while some may have a rehabber they bring
wildlife to, most have no alternative except to euthanize the raccoons.
Relocating raccoons is not really the answer anyway. It is far better
and easier to use one of the above methods to encourage the raccoons to
You can find a list of animal rehabbers, grouped by state,
at the WRID
website, or perhaps in your phone book or through a local vet.
Eviction Fluid ??? This stuff is touted as being designed for use on
female raccoon and their young. While the testimonial for this product
for sale on this professional nuisance wildlife operators website is fascinating
reading, the raccoon eviction fluid sounds almost too good to be true.
Who knows. Might be worth a try.
Hit the road Jack, and don't come back no
more, no more.
Once you are absolutely certain that the raccoons
have moved, call a chimneysweep to remove debris and have the chimney
professionally capped or screened to prevent raccoons or other wildlife
from nesting there again. Raccoons can quickly get through amateur cappings
and a mother raccoon will literally tear apart your roof if you cap one
of her babies inside your chimney.
If the raccoon was using the chimney for a while,
it may have been urinating and defecating on the roof or gutter. Wear rubber
gloves and a mask and clean up such waste promptly, burying or burning
the feces. Raccoon feces
can harbor organisms (such as the parasitic raccoon roundworm known as
Baylisascaris procyonis) and if left exposed pose a hazard to humans and