Trashy Animals
September 24, 2004 9:49 AM   Subscribe

TrashTalk: How do I keep animals from getting into my garbage?

At least once or twice a week, I go outside to find that an animal has knocked down my trash can(s) and torn up the bags, presumably looking for food. How can I prevent this from happening?
posted by grateful to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Lock the lids somehow. Investing in new trash cans is not a bad idea. Use rags soaked lightly in ammonia and wipe them around the base of the trash cans [assuming you don't have pets that are in the area often] and the smell keeps animals away [keep it away from bleach whatever you do]. The same goes for black pepper, or pepper spray, or mothballs. If possible, build an enclosure for your cans that is openable easily by humans but not easily by animals, or bring the cans indoors somewhere. Make sure the can doesn't have cracks or holes where the food smells can get out and keep them clean for the same reason. You likely have a raccoon problem
posted by jessamyn at 10:04 AM on September 24, 2004

Make your cans more difficult to get into than your neighbor's cans. Bungie cords over the lids, etc.

One problem is, at least around here, the garbage collectors wont waste their time removing bungies and things like that. They'll just pass your house by. You need to find the line between what your raccoons can't get into and what your trash men can.

Do your collectors come at the same time every morning? Put your cans out at the last minute on trash days.

If the problem happens on other days, you can build an enclosure for the cans, either a solid-walled one or just a railing so that the cans wont tip over.

I have plastic barrells with "locking" lids but the racoons can still manage to get into them.

Once an animal learns the trick to something (ie ball point pen/Kryptonite Lock) he'll never forget it, so the technique becomes useless.

Also, seperate wet (food) trash from other trash.
posted by bondcliff at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2004

It's very humbling when you start to think that a raccoon is smarter than you. Believe me.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2004

We use big plastic bins with a hinged top and a spring-hinged clamp on the lid and lip of the bin's body.

The raccoons try. Oh, they try. But they fail.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:11 AM on September 24, 2004

12-guage pump. I'm partial to the Remington 870. :)

Sometimes the county animal control will lend you a trap (they did for me). They're pretty easy to set up and bait. Be prepared to catch a few neighborhood cats though. If you catch the bugger, put on work gloves before picking up the cage (by the handle), just in case. But raccoons, unless rabid, are surprisingly mild mannered. Drive them out to the "country" and turn 'em loose. You'll be doing everyone favor.
posted by Witty at 12:48 PM on September 24, 2004

I use 55-gallon Rubbermaid bins with side clamps- basically they're handles, but they fold up over the lid and hold it down.

At a very minimum, use a plastic trash can if you still have metal ones. Plastic bins will prevent much less odor from escaping, as well as conduct far less heat which could also help carry a scent for hungry woodland creatures.

On a side note, I actually have to refute Witty's advice. Raccoons tend to live in groups, and if you capture one, there's likely five more waiting in a local sewer drain.

Trapping and releasing is good for wolves and foxes and other animals that might have strayed too far, but if you start baiting a trap for a raccoon, you're essentially just leaving out food for it. More of them will just set up camp. Prevent them from getting food anywhere near your house, and they'll stop coming to it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2004

The most effective anti-raccoon garbage bin I ever saw was made of wood slats lined with chicken wire (so air could circulate but squirrels could not). The lid, angled downward toward the front, slid back and then lifted up, which no raccoon or skunk could possibly do, though I suppose a bear could.

Custom-made and no doubt expensive. Not good if you have a mobility impairment of any kind, or if you're merely short. And it does not solve the problem of lazy garbage collectors. But it looked nigh on impermeable.
posted by joeclark at 4:20 PM on September 24, 2004

Raccoons are darn hard to trap. I agree that they will just take food out of anything you set. If you poison them, you risk hurting animals that might feed on the corpse.

Take a gander at the "chinese airgun forum" for some other inexpensive, quiet solutions. Caveat: this would be my last choice, after animal control, enclosures, etc. and only if rabidity were likely or they were killing my ducks.
posted by mecran01 at 7:43 PM on September 24, 2004

Ammonia - just splash a little inside the can, not so much that you can not bear to open the can, but enough that you can easily smell it while open.

Bondcliff is right about how the problem increases once they learn how to open the cans. You might fight their education by getting different cans or storing them in the garage until the last possible moment for a year or so until they forget about your cans and dine at your neighbors instead.
posted by caddis at 1:37 AM on September 25, 2004

Thanks for all the ideas.
posted by grateful at 1:36 PM on September 25, 2004

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