There’s a reason why Toronto is known as the raccoon capital of the world. You can’t call yourself a true Torontonian without having one (or a dozen) raccoon anecdotes. Estimates put the raccoon population anywhere from 100k to 200k within the GTA, or 100 raccoons per square kilometer. That’s a lot of competition for your garbage!
Raccoons are very adaptable which makes it easy for them to live in the city amongst humans. Raccoons are omnivorous and in the wild they tend to subsist on berries, eggs and insects, but in the city, raccoons zero in on our garbage because it’s usually the most available food source.
If you’re tired of cleaning up after these unwanted dinner guests and want a solution for banning them from your compost and garbage bins for good, the easiest answer is raccoon prevention. If you can, keep your bins inside a garage or mud room until the morning of garbage pickup. Raccoons are nocturnal creatures and tend to feed at night, so waiting until the morning to put out potential dinner fare will force them to move on to someone else on your street.
However, not everyone has a garage or mudroom, and keeping garbage in your kitchen just isn’t appealing. We’ve all seen how well those clips and straps work – they don’t. Raccoons have very dexterous hands and can get into anything. So what else can you do? Is there such a thing as raccoon repellant? And if so, does it work?
The quick answer is yes, but in truth, most raccoon repellant methods only work for a short period of time. Remember that adaptability trait? Well, it also helps raccoons adapt to a number of deterrents you may use. As a result, raccoon repellents are a short-term solution. In the end, you’ll need a wildlife expert like Swat Wildlife to help you find a permanent, humane solution to your raccoon problem.
According to McGill University Urban Information Service, homemade raccoon repellents are a fairly effective method. Soak rags in ammonia (the main ingredient found in urine) and place them in areas where the raccoons are known to rest.
You can also try coyote urine, which is a natural predator of raccoons, however, this method can get prohibitively expensive since coyote urine is expensive and wears away quickly, meaning the area needs to be sprayed pretty frequently. Plus, when you spray your backyard with urine, it will naturally smell like, well…urine. Not a pleasant fragrance for your next outdoor BBQ.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can concoct your own spray that is part soap, hot sauce, and urine. There are a number of different recipes on the Internet so you’ll probably need to play around with the mixture before finding one that works. And according to McGill University, this method will most likely only work for a short period, eventually the raccoons will become accustomed to it.
The store bought repellents such as Ro-Pel tend to have as many bad reviews as they have good, so it’s best to be wary when purchasing one of these, especially since most are designed to repel a number of different rodents, not just raccoons, making them less effective.
Ultrasonic Repellents and Other Raccoon Repellant Methods
There are a number of other methods such as ultrasonic repellents, however, like the sprays, raccoons eventually will become accustomed to the noise. Another method that has various success is water. Spraying water on raccoons is effective, but it also means you’ll spend most nights guarding your garbage bins armed with your garden hose.
According to Suzanne McDonald, a raccoon expert who produced the CBC documentary Raccoon Nation, without the help of a professional wildlife expert, your best bet is to employ a number of methods of raccoon prevention, such as securing garbage bins, removing tree branches that overhang roofs and securing access holes, to remove the temptation for raccoons to move into your neighbourhood in the first place.