Wildlife: Raccoons

Are you experiencing an issue with wildlife in your area?  If you have an urgent concern, please get in touch with us right away.  If you are looking for more information, please click on one of the questions below to expand the content and find your answer.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at DFW Wildlife Coalition.

A baby raccoon should never be out of the den by itself.  A few exceptions may be an inquisitive juvenile that ventures to a puddle of water or to the base of the tree while the mother is napping.  Typically, in this situation, when you approach the juvenile it will run to the den where mother is present. If the baby does not lead you to the den, it is orphaned and requires rescue.  If in doubt, cover the baby with an inverted laundry basket and wait a couple hours to see if mom retrieves the baby. If she does not, contact the hotline or a wildlife rehabilitator.

Always rescue a baby that is vocalizing out of the den.  An adult wearing gloves should gently cover baby and pick up and place in a secure container for transport.  Mother raccoons are excellent mothers. If the mother does not return, the babies will begin vocalizing and leaving the nest 24 to 72 hours later.  If you know a raccoon was trapped and relocated or hit by a car or some other misfortune, please proceed with rescue when you hear the babies.

For more information please read the following FAQ:

Please reference our “Quick Tips” located in the upper right corner of our website for instructions on containing, transporting, providing life saving heat, and finding a wildlife rehabilitator.

Nocturnal wildlife will, on occasion, forage during the day. This is common with lactating mothers or wildlife that have been accustomed to dining on reliable resources of pet food.

If you observe a wild animal traveling from point A to point B, this would be considered normal healthy behavior.

Behavior to be concerned with is an animal that is lingering and not aware of the dogs or humans nearby.

Raccoons, skunks, fox, and coyote are susceptible to canine distemper and parvo. Bobcats, raccoons, skunks and fox are susceptible to panleukopenia. Responsible pet owners vaccinate their pets annually for these diseases. However, wildlife does not have the benefit of vaccines. Symptoms include any one or a combination of the following:

  1. Out during the day. The difference is the animal is just lying in the yard and does not care what is happening around them such as barking dogs or people.
  2. Dragging hind legs, twitching, seizures, symptoms of the nervous system.
  3. Appearing to be tame.
  4. Staggering.
  5. Matted eyes, or nasal discharge.

These symptoms can also be rabies.  In Texas, there are very few incidences of rabies in the raccoon, coyote, fox, or bobcat however eastern states do report a greater incidence of rabies in the raccoon.  In the DFW area, we see an occasional skunk with rabies.

A sick animal needs to be removed by your city animal services and euthanized. Distemper is not curable. As the sick animal lingers, it spreads the air borne virus. Animals with distemper can spread it to others 12-15 feet away. Removal protects the rest of the wildlife. Most wildlife rehabilitators do not have the resources to euthanize for the public, as well, do not want to introduce viruses to the animals in their care.  People cannot contract distemper. 

Please do not feed wildlife such as raccoons. The transmission of distemper usually occurs when someone is intentionally feeding, and unrelated raccoons dine together. The results are devastating as neighborhood populations die off. Show respect by not feeding wildlife.

For more information on rabies please the visit Center for Disease Control;


For the annual report documenting cases of rabies in Texas:

Texas Health and Human service annual report


First an understanding of why we have wildlife in our cities.  

Our mid-range wildlife has found life is easier in the city. As our cities encroached on previous fields and woods the wildlife adapted.  Two examples, raccoons and opossums have been so successful that they live in a higher concentration than their country counterpart. Others require smaller territories to be successful.  Prey species such as rabbits, deer, or squirrels have fewer predators.  Our cities provide all of the requirements for life; abundant food, shelter and water. 

Mammal predators in our cities include, bobcats, coyotes, and to a lesser degree raccoons, foxes, skunks and opossums.  Their diets consist of a wide range of insects, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, and ducks. All except the bobcat are omnivores which extends their diet to also include plants such as fruits, berries, and nuts.  A quick look around in your neighborhood, you will understand there is plenty of food. We have made those food sources even denser with accessible dumpsters and feeding of wildlife such as ducks at the park, bird or squirrel feeders in our yards.  In fact, food is so plentiful that hunting is not always a requirement when you can quickly dive into a dumpster and dine on our leftovers.

As our cities grow, developers build greenbelts and water features in our planned communities.  We enjoy a daily walk or run or a visit to the greenbelt to watch the birds, ducks and squirrels.

It is understandable that wildlife and humans will have conflicts.  As we learned to live with our wild neighbors, studies have revealed that traditional trapping of wildlife does not solve the urban wildlife conflict. With abundant resources of food, water, and shelter the remaining animals will absorb that vacant territory in a very short time. In many cases, such as the coyote, absorbing the vacant territory allows for the success of larger liters.  Resulting in greater population than prior to removal.  Studies also reveal that relocated trapped animals seldom survive, as most are territorial.

Another consideration is keeping the predator prey balance.  When this delicate balance is disturbed there is an increase in rodent, rabbit, and deer populations. Increased rodent population can be a public health risk.

To resolve wildlife conflicts, address the basic needs of life.


If you want to feed the birds, please put a day’s portion of seed when you can enjoy the songbirds. An overflowing bird feeder attracts rodents, rabbits, and squirrels.  The prey eating the seed on the ground attracts the opossum, raccoon, skunk, bobcat, fox, or coyote. You are responsible for creating this food chain in your backyard.

Place your garbage out the morning of pick up.  If you must place out the night before, put half a cup of ammonia in the can to discourage rummaging.  Keep dumpster doors and lids closed.  Consider purchasing animal proof containers.  Place your containers away from walls or fences to discourage access.

Do not keep pet food out.  If you must feed your dog outside, please pick up any remaining food after 20-30 minutes.  Consider feeding indoors to prevent fire ants and flies in your pet’s food.

When feeding feral cats, alter the time of feeding frequently.  This will discourage some of the wildlife from dining as they will not arrive on time for the buffet.

Do not store pet food or seeds in your garage or out buildings unless secured in a container that cannot be opened or chewed.

Compost.  Don’t put food scraps in your compost pile.  Rodents and insects drawn to your compost and/or the scraps are food for several wild neighbors.

Manage pets. Coyotes, bobcats, hawks, and owls considers our small pets (rabbit or smaller) to be fair prey.  We have to be responsible for their safety when outdoors.  When walking, keep your pet on a six-foot leash.  Small pets should be housed inside. Vaccinate your pets annually.

Keep cats indoors as there are multiple dangers in our communities such as cars, disease, cat fights, dogs, hawks, owls, coyotes and bobcats.  Cats are the major cause of song birds, rabbits, baby opossums, and baby squirrels’ admissions to a wildlife rehabilitator.


Water your lawns during the day. Adjust sprinkler systems to prevent pooling of water.


Avoid allowing landscape to become overgrown.  Trim overhanging limbs to discourage roof access. Thin brushy areas.  Keep your grass maintained.

Don’t keep junk piles or accumulate debris.

Seal areas and/or correct any erosion that could become den sites under a storage shed, a deck, or under a pier and beam home.

Pier and beam homes check your foundation vents and replace with a sturdy hardware cloth to prevent entry.

Decks should be constructed so that wildlife cannot get under. The base can be wood, rock, brick or hardware cloth to ground level. To prevent digging bury wire from the base “L” shaped attached at a 45-degree angle with the base extending at least 12 inches away from the sides. The 12 inches will discourage digging. Buried depth is recommended to be 4 to 6 inches.

Cap your chimney.  Keep your roof and eaves in good repair to prevent entry by rodents, squirrels, or raccoons.

Our urban predators are naturally fearful of humans.  Don’t allow a food source to create a conflict inviting unnatural behavior from your wild neighbors.

Teach children to respect and never approach or touch wildlife.  Explain the wildlife’s role in our cities and to always get an adult to help if wildlife is in need.  Small children should always be supervised as there are many dangers in our cities.

Share this information with your neighbors, family and friends.  Through education and responsible behavior, animals and humans can coexist in our cities.

A good video showing predator prey in an urban eco-system

If you already have a raccoon occupying your home, it is easy to evict the raccoon. Trapping is not recommended as babies are very often left behind. Territorial animals rarely survive relocation, especially a mother raccoon with kits that will be forced to abandon her family to survive. Raccoons are a rabies vector species and the law states they may not be relocated more than 10 miles as a prevention to stop the spread of rabies. In the Dallas Fort Worth area, we experience canine distemper in the raccoon every few years, relocating raccoons just contributes to the spread of canine distemper.

Eviction is a simpler solution because you do not have to relocate or tear into walls or other tight areas where raccoons prefer to den. With deterrents you encourage the raccoon to vacate and take her young which prevents orphaning. Eviction is the most humane solution.

To evict, first identify where the raccoon is gaining access to your home. Inspect for damaged vents, soffits, and or flashings. The entry may have fur around the edges. To evict you will need a light (possibly an extension cord), a portable radio, apple cider vinegar and some rags. A utility clamp light purchased at your local hardware store is very handy to use.

  • You must do the eviction at dusk because you are evicting a nocturnal animal.
  • At dusk light the den area.
  • Turn the radio on a 24-hour talk or rap station and place near the den.
  • These two deterrents are normally enough.
  • You may add the third deterrent the apple cider vinegar-soaked rags at the den, especially if it takes more than one night to complete the eviction.
  • You must turn these deterrents off at dawn.

The raccoon will be alarmed at these deterrents and will move to another den site. The mother raccoon is a single mom and these deterrents are a threat to her babies when she is out hunting/foraging. Remember they prefer quiet dark locations and you just created the opposite conditions. If there are babies the mother raccoon will begin to move her babies one at a time like a dog or cat. Often moving babies will take more than one night.

  • At dawn when you turn the deterrents off, plug the entry hole with paper or tape a plastic trash bag over the hole. The purpose is not to restrict entry, it is to alert you as to activity coming and going.
  • If the plugged entry is left untouched for 24-hours the raccoon has moved. If there is still activity repeat the deterrents as above and include the apple cider vinegar-soaked rags for the second night. Dawn of the second morning, again turn deterrents off and plug the hole to monitor for activity. When babies are involved it may take two nights for the mother to relocate the babies.
  • Once there is no activity, immediately repair or at the very minimum cover the entry with hardware cloth and a ¾ to 1-inch sturdy staple.
  • A special note, if there are adverse weather conditions that may limit the mother’s activity, wait to begin the eviction as you do not want the mother to become accustomed to the deterrents.

Remember prevention is the best solution. Keeping wildlife babies with their natural mother is the most humane solution. The simple use of deterrents is effective. If you are having difficulty or need advice, please contact the wildlife hotline. If you suspect the mother left a baby behind, call the hotline.

When considering a removal company, please check references and ask questions regarding practices as most removal companies will gladly take your money. However, they may have no regard to preventing orphaning or inhumanely killing the animals or may just relocate the family which will not survive at this delicate time in their life. Some removal companies orphan the young and then take to local rehabilitators with no concern of the expense and time required to rehabilitate these babies. It is very difficult for rehabilitators to say no to these babies in fear of how they may be disposed of. Be an informed consumer, ask questions or you may call the hotline for referral of a humane exclusion services.

The following video shows removal of a raccoon family by a trained humane exclusion company.

“How to Evict your Raccoon Roommates”


For more information read:

Urban raccoons will den in a variety of locations such as, under sheds and decks, under pier and beam homes, in chimneys, attics, barns, wood piles or similar locations. Studies of the raccoon have shown that they may have as many as five den locations. They will seek out quiet dark dens and do prefer small areas where they can feel secure. Once they locate a preferred den, they will return and may remain until you encourage them to move.

The preferred solution is to be proactive before the birthing season which can begin in Texas as early as January, however, is typically March through May. Weather changes such as cold temperatures also increase the activity of raccoons denning in homes as they are seeking shelter. Look for decaying eaves and soffits around your home. Repair permanently or at the very least, cover concerned areas with hardware cloth and a strong ¾ to 1-inch staple. A raccoon’s hands can remove and embellish an area if they are intent on occupying. Inspect or install a chimney cap. Inspect tree growth that is extending over your roof, or a trellis giving roof access. You may want to trim or relocate such landscaping as it gives raccoons and squirrels access and opportunity to get on to your roof and in to your attic through vents or decaying wood.

If you have a deck or outbuildings that an animal could dig under you may want to secure by building a skirt around the base. Secure by constructing a “L” shape barrier of hardware cloth. The horizontal of the “L” will be at a 45-degree angle away from the structure at least 12 inches width from the base and submerged four to six inches. An animal that typically digs to gain access will quickly be discouraged from this barrier and will move on. Any erosion around foundations can be an invitation for an animal to embellish and gain entry.

Prevention is the best policy when co-existing with our urban wild neighbors. The urban wildlife is here to stay, therefore maintenance and modification of our yards and homes to make them less desirable is the best lasting solution.
For more information read FAQ: Ways to discourage wildlife in your yard.

Skunk, opossum, raccoon, or armadillo enjoy dining on grub worms.  Digging activity is usually noticed after a lot of rain or overwatering from a sprinkler system.  The moisture causes the grubs to rise to the surface.  Wildlife eating grubs is beneficial and is free pest control.   Once the grubs are eaten the wildlife will continue their journey.  Patience and tolerance are recommended.

To Encourage the Wildlife to Move Sooner, adopt these changes to your lawn maintenance.

Practice deep watering of your lawn especially in August. The grub eggs require frequent moisture to hatch.  By limiting the frequency of watering, the moisture reduction will reduce the number of eggs hatching.

In late spring to early summer, reduce outdoor lighting which attracts the June bugs and other beetles.  This may reduce egg laying in your yard.

Do not cut your lawn short as this makes a more attractive site for laying eggs. Let it remain taller.

Over seed your lawn in the spring and fall.  A thick lawn is too dense to accommodate the beetles.

Use an eco-friendly fertilizer for your lawn in the spring and fall.  A healthy lawn is more resistant to pests. A good comparison with tips at this site:  http://www.greenhome.com/blog/cut-the-crap-making-your-own-eco-friendly-fertilizer-is-easier-than-you-think

Attract birds to your yard that may dine on grub worms and other insects.

These Products are Recommended for the Treatment of Grubs.

Your purchase through our product page supports the DFW Wildlife Coalition Hotline.  

Mix 1 cup Castor oil, 1 cup liquid dish soap, and 1-gallon of water.  Put in a garden sprayer and spray the area of concern. You will need to respray as needed due to rain or sprinkler system.

One longer-term solution is a product called “Milky Spore”, (not effective in Texas for the white grub), this is a natural non-toxic bacterium that will kill grubs and can be purchased online or your local garden store.

Beneficial Nematodes is another long-term solution for grubs and can be purchased online or at garden stores.  In Texas, commercially-available nematodes have shown a 50% reduction of grubs. Carefully follow instructions for the best results.

According to Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension the repeated use of spiked sandals (sold for aerating) over the infested turf may reduce grub population by 50%.

Apply Neem oil as a botanical pesticide.

Adopt the lawn care recommendations.  Encourage those insect eating birds.  And if needed the products recommended to reduce the digging activity in your yard.  Remember the wildlife are beneficial in keeping our rodent populations under control..


To gain insight on the raccoon and its intelligence view this documentary.

Raccoon Backyard Bandit