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Are racoons supposed to be in the city?

Raccoons are among the many native species of wildlife that call Washington DC home. Raccoons in the city have learned to take advantage of food and living spaces that are provided by living close to people.

It is a common misconception that a raccoon out during the day is rabid. Raccoons that are out during the day could be looking for food, shelter or were disturbed while they were sleeping. If the raccoon appears disoriented, is falling over, approaching people or appears lethargic or not moving, immediately call 202-723-5730 to have an officer dispatched.

Raccoons are great climbers and may occasionally climb to the top of a pole or roof and appear to be stuck. They are cautious animals and may be too nervous to come down, waiting for the cover of night to make their move towards the ground level. If the raccoon is in the same spot high up for more than 24 hours, he could be sick or injured. Please call 202-723-5730 to have an officer dispatched.

Raccoons are attracted to food. The most readily available source of food in any city is unsecured trash. Open trash cans are like a buffet to wildlife, with abundant food available to them with minimal effort. To solve this issue, trash can be stored in animal proof trash cans, some trash cans have screw tops and others have a locking system to keep animals out. You can also secure the top of your trash can with a bungee cord. Trash can also be stored inside the home and only taken to the curb the morning of trash pick up to eliminate any kind of temptation it may pose to a hungry animal. Dumpsters should be closed to eliminate animals from entering to look for food. If you notice a dumpster that is open, please call the number on the side of the container to notify the company and to ask them to secure their trash receptacle.

Do you have a raccoon pooping on your deck or in your yard?

If you notice a raccoon is defecating on your porch, deck, roof top or in a particular area of your yard there are steps you can take to eliminate that behavior. Raccoons prefer to defecate on surfaces that they can gain a firm footing on. If the location is on a hard surface, sheets of plastic, like disposable drop cloths or open trash bags can be secured to the surface with nails or tape making the area more slippery. If the raccoon is defecating on soil, the area can be over-watered so that it becomes muddy and slippery. This will cause the raccoon to look elsewhere for a new place to defecate.

How do I keep raccoons from coming into my yard?

Raccoons are smart and opportunistic animals and are oftentimes unafraid of humans, because of their close proximity to living among us in urban settings. To keep them away from your home or yard follow these tips:

  • Keep openings to your home closed. Even the smallest hole can be an entry point for raccoons or other wildlife. Make sure your roof and siding are in good repair, as well as any vents or chimneys are capped and closed to the outside.
  • Do not leave food outside. If you feed cats or your pets outside, be sure to pull the food up after the animal has finished eating. Trash cans need to be secured closed with a bungee cord or a special animal proof bin can be purchased.
  • Using a motion detecting sprinkler can be used to scare off any animal that comes into your yard. It is important to move the sprinkler frequently so the animal does not learn to avoid the motion sensor.
  • A capsaicin based deterrent can be used to deter the raccoons from going into certain areas or chewing on anything. Capsaicin is the component of hot peppers that give them their heat. It makes the animal uncomfortable temporarily but will go away after a few minutes of discomfort.


A raccoon is in my house!

Open any doors or windows that lead outdoors to give the raccoon a way out of your home. If you have any children or pets, immediately put them in a secure area of the house away from the raccoon. Raccoons can carry rabies and may become aggressive if they feel cornered or panicked. Please call the Humane Rescue Alliance if the raccoon does not leave on it’s own. If the raccoon has bitten or scratched a human or animal in the home, do not open any windows or doors, but immediately call 202-723-5730 so the raccoon can be captured for possible rabies testing.


If a wild animal is in need, danger or you believe it is rabid, immediately call us at 202-723-5730.

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