How to Keep Raccoons Out of Trash Cans

by | Aug 5, 2017 | Raccoon Removal

Have you ever woken up in the morning only to find your garbage can knocked over and its contents sprawled all over your yard? Having to clean the unnecessary mess can be irritating, especially if it has become a part of your morning routine. If this is the case, a raccoon is most likely to be the culprit behind the mess of the scene.  If you see a raccoon do not go near it, instead you should call a professional and have the raccoon removed from the property.  Raccoon can be dangerous and carries disease like rabies which can make you and your family extremely sick.

Raccoon Lifestyle

Raccoons primarily spend their time venturing outside in the dead of the night and by being nocturnal animals, foraging and feeding keeps them busy after dark.  However, spotting a raccoon up and eating during the day is not uncommon. Raccoons will be drawn to almost anything they can get their paws on, ranging from homegrown crops to gardens and especially what our garbage cans hold. For this reason, they can be quite pesky.

Just like humans, raccoons are also omnivores. With 40 strong and incredibly sharp teeth, raccoons are able to chew through all sorts of plants and meats. In fact, these furry animals have four sharp-edged canines at the front of their mouths that puncture through their food, followed by premolars and molars that further line the rest of their mouths. This set of teeth serves to finely ground their meal until they are able to be swallowed.

Fun fact:  Raccoons are notorious for their tendency to wash food at a nearby water source! (This however, does not prevent them from eating if water is not present.)

Raccoons in the wild can be spotted eating a diversified group of foods. By being able to skillfully use their paws, they can easily catch fish in nearby streams, collect nuts, steal eggs and even climb up to pick fresh fruit. In addition to fish, other animals that are prey to raccoons include rats, squirrels and insects. Slower organisms such as worms are an easy catch and a snack on-the-go.  Plants that raccoons are likely to be caught eating include berries and corn.

To their misfortune, city-bound raccoons do not have the same luxury of plentiful food sources as raccoons in the wild. The foods that they would generally gravitate towards may be difficult to find in heavily populated areas like the city. With this being said, raccoons are forced to scavenge through our garbage bins and gardens, leaving a displeasing mess behind. By being opportunistic feeders, they will eat whatever they can, at any given point in time. Therefore, adapting to the city lifestyle has not been too tricky for these animals and more and more trash continues to be tipped over.

Raccoon Paws

Alongside humans and other dexterous animals, raccoons have extremely nimble and skillful fingers located on both of their front paws. With a total of four paws and a combination of proficient fingers and toes, raccoons are able to do a lot more than just hunt and dig for their food.  Their larger back feet provide added power, stability and balance while running and climbing up fences along with other structures. But most importantly, the dexterity of raccoon fingers allows them to grasp onto things, untie knots and even open lids.

Being practical with their paws leaves raccoons with endless opportunities for food searching. In addition to freshly grown flowers, fruits and vegetables, possible leftovers from dinner and other forms of garbage have become viable meal options for these animals.  In favour of the raccoon’s dexterous paws, opening trash bins and tearing through garbage bags has not been a problem whatsoever. For this reason, trash cans are often found on the ground with their contents torn to shreds while homeowners across North America are left dealing with the messes left behind.

If you are interested in learning a few tips and tricks on how to keep your property mess free and pesky raccoons away from your yard, continue reading!


How to Identify a Raccoon

Raccoons are not always held responsible for tearing through garbage bags and bins, seeing as there are other animals and factors that may have been involved instead. Determining the identity of your garbage bandit will help provide an insight on how to deal with the animal and situation at hand and there are a few raccoon features to watch out for if a pest is spotted in your yard.

Raccoon characteristics:

  • Black “mask” of fur surrounding their eyes with an outline of white fur
  • Large fluffy tail with five to ten rings
  • Walks on all fours and has a hunched back (hind legs are longer than front legs)
  • Grey-brown fur coat with white detailing
  • Average length of 25 to 38 inches
  • White whiskers

Keeping Your Trash Safe From Pests

Once a raccoon finds a tasty treat from within your trash can or trash bag, the chances of it returning the following night and more on are high. If a raccoon senses a steady source of food linked directly to your garbage, then be sure to expect its company again.

With keeping this in mind, there are a few tips and tricks you can try at home to prevent pesky raccoons from messing with your trash and to stop them from re-visiting your home.

The easiest tip to follow is to keep your garbage bags and bins in a place that is out of the raccoons’ reach. Storing them in a confined space similar to a garage, shed or garbage can enclosure will not only prevent animals from tearing through your trash but will also block out foul odours and keep your yard looking tidy.  Garbage can enclosures can even be an added accessory to your yard!

Purchasing a garbage can strap or a lock will also do the trick! Raccoons are handy and smart, but not as handy and smart as they think they are. Using a lock or a tight fitting garbage can strap will leave raccoons and other intruders frustrated and will soon enough have them venturing away from the premises.

Using the element of sound is another simple pointer to take note of! Those who have reportedly left a radio on throughout the night by their trash, have claimed that it startles raccoons away. Having constant songs and voices radiate from the garbage area may be pleasing to our ears, but not to a raccoon’s.

If a stubborn raccoon remains persistent and continues to invade your yard, investing in a security system of lights and sensors is another option to consider. Having a system of sensors that trigger your lights to turn on will surely startle any unwanted visitor. The benefits of installing a security system include identifying the presence of pesky animals and intruders, alongside providing you and your family with motion-detecting lights to guide you through the night.

Unfortunately, raccoon control is not always as simple as it sounds. If none of the suggestions listed above seem to be effective, then putting the situation into the hands of trained professionals will be in your best interest. At SOS Wildlife Control, proper animal control methods (such as our live-trapping method) will be implemented to ensure that your property will be free of unwanted visitors while keeping the animal safe and unharmed!

For future prevention our technicians can do a thorough inspection of possible entry points and weak spots in your home.. After finding some major entry points and others areas that have the potential to become entry points, we give you options that take these problems, your property and the safety of the animal into account. We then seal off these entry points with galvanized steel mesh to prevent any re-entry.
To avoid encountering these issues and more, call a professional wildlife control technician at SOS Wildlife Control. For residential, commercial and industrial solutions, SOS Wildlife Control Inc. can be there to help you with your wildlife removal problem.

Call 1-800-981-0330 today!

General FAQs

What Do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons are omnivores. They are drawn to almost anything, ranging from homegrown crops to gardens, and especially what garbage cans hold. They also eat fish, nuts, eggs, fruits, worms, and more.

Do Raccoons Have Paws?

Raccoons have four paws and extremely nimble and skilful fingers on their front paws. Their hind feet are larger and provide them with balance and stability while running and climbing.

What are the Special Features of a Raccoon?

Raccoons can be identified by the black mask of fur surrounding their eyes outlined by white fur. They have a large, fluffy tail, white whiskers, and grow up to an average length of 25 to 38 inches.

How to Keep Your Trash Safe from Raccoons?

The easiest way to keep raccoons out of your trash cans is to keep them in a confined space. You could also keep a radio near the bin because the noise can deter racoons from reaching it.