Time for a late night snack
October 8, 2009 6:38 AM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of my garbage eating raccoons?

Lately, I've been finding the garbage spilled over and totally ripped apart in the morning. Used diapers and other terrible terrible things must be picked up.

For some reason, only my garbage has been deemed edible by the local critters. Due to the aforementioned diapers and such, it is just not an option to keep the garbage in the garage overnight -- we'd never get the smell out.

Anybody deal with this? I'm in the western 'burbs of Chicago.
posted by MustardTent to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hot Chili's dipped in peanut butter on top of the bags in your garbage. They will devour and then never come back after the pain is causes them.
posted by elationfoundation at 6:40 AM on October 8, 2009

Get yourself a sturdy can with a "locking" lid, the kind where the handles flip up over the lid or some other device that will keep it shut. Keep the outside of the can clean and odor-free. Expect it to be tipped over a few times till they get the message that there is No Food Here Anymore.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:42 AM on October 8, 2009

They're going after your garbage because it's easier to get to it than your neighbor's garbage.

You need a trash barrel with a locking lid. Use some bungie cords to keep the lid closed as well. Clean the barrel and keep all trash inside plastic bags to cut down on the smell. If you can't keep the trash inside, put something around it so it's not easily tipped over. Chain it to the side of the house if you can. Maybe tie a mesh bag filled with mothballs to the side of the barrel. They deter squirrels, not sure about raccoons. Maybe scatter some hot pepper around the barrel.

Bears and raccoons are thieves. Like all thieves, you probably can't keep them out if they really want in, so the key is to make it difficult for them so they'll move on to somebody else.
posted by bondcliff at 6:45 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes, another vote for the locking-lid, animal proof garbage cans. I know you're not in Canada, but this is the one I use and your local equivalent store will have something like it.
posted by meerkatty at 6:47 AM on October 8, 2009

Forget old wives tales about paprika or whatever, I've never met anyone that's worked for, you need to secure the bin. Around here they already know how to undo the "standard" lockable tops. We put our green bin (ie for organics here in Toronto, the one the raccoons want) sitting inside a large garden waste box, and then we wedge the box between the two large wheelie bins (recycling and regular garbage). Then we put a heavy bag of sidewalk salt on top of the green bin's lid. This doesn't take as long or look as awful as it sounds. They STILL manage to knock it over every so often. I know others who've had success hanging it off a fence at odd angles (which still took some trial and error on their part) and there are many bungee cord type products available.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:50 AM on October 8, 2009

My dad used to pour some ammonia in the bottom of the cans. Apparently the smell annoys them or something.
posted by smackfu at 6:50 AM on October 8, 2009

Spray some peppermint oil around the garbage. Or get some mint-infused garbage bags.
posted by greatgefilte at 7:09 AM on October 8, 2009

(Ordering info for the mint bags.)
posted by greatgefilte at 7:10 AM on October 8, 2009

Well I do have a locking lid on my garbage can, but it's a cheapo and obviously ineffective. These are all great answers and I'll be trying these out. Thanks!
posted by MustardTent at 7:12 AM on October 8, 2009

Just to the north of you in Winnipeg, MB (similar climate.) We had the locking garbage cans; those work fine until the day you forget to lock them (or get lazy and lock only one side.) It seems they come by old feeding holes pretty regularly as they took advantage of our lapse right away. Other things like raising the bins, enclosing them etc. always seemed to have some flaw they could exploit.

We eventually had to get the province to loan us a trap. I was told to expect more than one but was surprised when we just kept catching them. We stopped at six. A few trips out of town and they were finding their own damn food in the forest.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:14 AM on October 8, 2009

Ditto on a very tight bungee cord attached to the handles if you can't secure the can any other way.
posted by Elsie at 7:19 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ammonia works pretty well, but at this point I think you are going to have to retrain them by making the can impossible to get into.
posted by caddis at 7:30 AM on October 8, 2009

I solved the problem! I moved and now have garage. Keep the cans inside the garage.
posted by Postroad at 7:45 AM on October 8, 2009

Just bungee over the lids. Esp if you have the tall crapo locking type where the handles snap over the lip on the lid.
posted by TomMelee at 8:01 AM on October 8, 2009

In our area, Animal Control will come trap raccoons that are becoming regular pests. You might inquire.
posted by lakeroon at 8:26 AM on October 8, 2009

Well, my Mom worked out an understanding with the raccoons: she left the tasty stuff (meat scraps, basically) out for them, and they never dug through the cans looking for anything else.

We had cans that were sunk into the ground with heavy metal lids that were supposedly raccoon-proof, but they could lever the lids open with a heart-stopping clang and crash in the middle of the night. It was pretty clear, from the stuff that was strewn around that they didn't eat, that they were just going after meat and fat trimmings. So Mom put the meat scraps in a styrofoam tray, set this on top of the lids and in a few weeks the raccoons figured out that all the good stuff was right there out in the open, and left the cans alone. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
posted by Quietgal at 9:40 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, forgot to add that the raccoons started coming around quite early, before it was fully dark, to get first dibs on the good stuff. No more midnight snacks - we could see them in the evenings snarfing the meat before any other scavengers could get to it. It was kind of cute to watch mama raccoon and her 3 roly-poly cubs waddling across the back yard.
posted by Quietgal at 9:43 AM on October 8, 2009

My parents, who live in Rhode Island, also had a raccoon problem (the whole area does) but they seem to have solved it years ago: instead of just buying one trash bin with a securable lid, they bought a small plastic dumpster that holds about a week's worth of garbage bags (it's been a while since I visited, so I can't remember exactly how many it was). It latches securely so that raccoons can't get in or pry it open, and it's on wheels so when trash pickup comes around, they just roll it to the curb so the garbage men come pick it up.
posted by runaway ballista at 10:46 AM on October 8, 2009

I live in a heavily wooded area with bears and raccoons. Really, the best way to get rid of the raccoons is the store the trash somewhere they can't get to it (like the garage). Since you don't want to store it inside, I'd recommend a bin with a locking lid that you can fit your trashcans into, similar to these. We keep our trash in the garage until the morning of pick up, so I can't vouch for that particular company or overall effectiveness, but I have seen quite a few of those bins around at other homes in our neighborhood.
posted by geeky at 11:30 AM on October 8, 2009

If you need extra bungee hooks I will gladly mail the six or seven that my raccoons have chewed off the cords.
posted by leafwoman at 12:09 PM on October 8, 2009

We used to put bungee hooks on our garbage cans.

Also the beginning of your post made me giggle, because it could be interpreted as the garbage eating the raccoons!
posted by radioamy at 5:15 PM on October 8, 2009

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