How to Catch a Raccoon with a Live Trap

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How to Catch a Raccoon with a Live Trap

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Because raccoons are scavengers, they won't turn down a free meal. But it's always best to bait with something that they cannot resist. Use sweets like marshmellows or mashed bananas, and you will see a high capture rate."

How to Catch a Raccoon with a Live Trap

While they may look cute, a raccoon can be difficult to deal with. These animals may destroy your property and push over heavy items such as trash cans in search for food. Raccoons are intelligent, but can be aggressive. One method of removing a raccoon from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch a raccoon with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is a raccoon. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies. 

Raccoon in Trap

Raccoons are generally 12 inches tall and 24 to 38 inches long. It has gray fur and a striped tail. The black marking on its face resembles a mask. They normally weigh between 15 and 25 pounds and are intelligent animals. At times, raccoons can adapt to be "cage-wise". This means that once they understand that they will be stuck in the live trap, they will avoid all traps. This makes your live trap ineffective.

Raccoons are nocturnal and particularly aggressive wild animals. Take caution when approaching or handling this animal. They are great climbers and are able to swim.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with a raccoon on your property.


Once you have confirmed that your pest animal is a raccoon, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from raccoons. These animals are most likely searching your property for food. Areas where trash is stored, as well as any vegetation will most likely be spots where raccoons are most active. If your property is near a wooded area or a body of water, raccoons might be near these areas as well.

What to Look For

Because raccoons are nocturnal animals, any damage will be done at night. There are certain signs that signal raccoon activity, such as trash cans that are pushed over, damaged gardens, and raccoon tracks. These tracks will look like tiny hands that are about 2 to 3 inches wide. If raccoons are trying to enter your attic, you might see damaged roof shingles.


Now that you have identified your pest animal as a raccoon and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a raccoon picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources

You want the raccoon to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. Keep your trash sealed in trash bags and stored in trash bins with a lid to keep it closed. Any pet food or bowls of water should be placed inside as soon as possible.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high raccoon activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. A raccoon might push or knock over the trap in order to reach the bait inside. Place a brick or weight on top of the trap to avoid this.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Live Trap

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching a raccoon. These animals prefer sweet foods such as marshmallows. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the raccoon will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door.

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap


You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade raccoons from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Raccoon

Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have captured a raccoon in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approach the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the raccoon. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area raccoon-free. 


Keeping trash out in the open is an invitation for a raccoon. Be sure to place all waste in a trash can, preferably with a lid so it can be kept closed. Remove all clutter and debris from your property, since raccoons may be drawn to nest and burrow in these areas. Any potential food or water sources, especially pet food, should be properly sealed in a container and stored indoors. Regularly check the property for spots that retain water.


If your property is near a wooded area and you have no fencing, you are more susceptible to having raccoons and other wild animals invade your property. Consider blocking off your property with some fencing.

To avoid raccoons from entering your home, be sure to check the foundation for cracks and crevices. These can be sealed with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk. Stuf-Fit is a breathable material that many animals cannot chew through. It will not rust and can be stuffed into cracks and crevices before sealing with caulk. Repair any voids or openings around the home or structure, such as damaged screens around windows and dilapidated fences.

Key Takeaways

  • Raccoons are nocturnal animals. They have gray fur, striped tails, and black markings on its face that resembles a mask. They are intelligent and curious but can be aggressive when searching for food or when provoked.
  • Bait the live trap with sweet food like marshmallows, making sure it is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap. 
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once a raccoon is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly release it.
  • Prevent raccoons from entering your property again by removing any potential food sources and trash, as well as sealing any cracks and crevices with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk.
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