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HELP! 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 wait.
    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 problems.
  • 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 relocate themselves.
  • 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.
  • Raccoon 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 wildlife.