How to Catch a Raccoon in a Live Trap: Step-by-Step Guide

how to catch a raccoon in a live trap

Are you dealing with a raccoon nuisance and wondering how to catch a raccoon in a live trap? 

If raccoons have gained entry to your attic or deck, these clever creatures can become a nuisance. Using a live trap is an effective and humane way to address this issue. In this guide, we’ll explore simple and practical steps to successfully capture a raccoon using a live trap, ensuring a safe and considerate resolution to the situation.

How to Catch Raccoon with a Live Trap

Place the Trap Strategically

Before setting up your raccoon trap, carefully observe raccoon activity in your surroundings. Take note if you detect the distinct odor of raccoon pee or identify paw traces. These signs can indicate frequented areas. Additionally, look for scattered trash or raided bird feeders, as these are common activities for raccoons. Identifying such key locations, like entry points or pathways, is essential for strategic trap placement.

Bait the Trap

Once you’ve pinpointed an optimal location, entice the raccoon with appealing bait. Raccoons have varied palates, so options like marshmallows, cat food, canned fish, or peanut butter can be enticing. Place the bait at the back of the trap to encourage the raccoon to enter fully. A well-placed and tempting bait increases the chances of a successful capture.

Read the full guide on the best baits that you can use for raccoon traps.

Remove Competing Food Sources

To make your trap more appealing, minimize alternative food options in the vicinity. Secure trash bins to prevent easy access and remove any potential competing food sources. This ensures that the raccoon is more likely to be drawn to the trap, increasing the effectiveness of your trapping efforts.

Set the Trap

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to set the live trap properly. Ensure that the door is securely open, and the trigger mechanism is correctly in place. Confirm that the trap is stable and won’t accidentally close prematurely. A properly set trap is essential for both the safety of the raccoon and the success of your trapping efforts.

Monitor the Trap

Regularly check the trap to monitor for captured raccoons. Aim to check the trap multiple times a day to minimize the time the raccoon spends confined. This is crucial for the well-being of the animal and increases the chances of a safe release. Prompt monitoring also allows you to address any issues with the trap or captured raccoon promptly.


Once you’ve successfully trapped the raccoon, it’s time to relocate it. Choose a suitable release site away from populated areas, preferably an environment with ample food and water sources. Ensure you follow local regulations regarding wildlife release to ensure a responsible and legal process. Relocating the raccoon responsibly contributes to both its well-being and the harmonious coexistence of wildlife and human habitats.

Using Shiny Objects

Incorporating shiny objects can be an effective and innovative strategy when attempting to catch raccoons in a live trap. Raccoons are naturally curious creatures, and their attraction to reflective surfaces can work to your advantage.

Hang shiny objects such as aluminum foil strips, CDs, or reflective materials near the live trap. The glint of sunlight or artificial light on these objects can grab the raccoon’s attention and pique its curiosity. As the raccoon investigates the shiny items, use a swift and strategic approach to encourage it to enter the live trap.

Why Racoon is Not Coming in the Trap

If you see a raccoon in your yard and are having difficulty trapping it, several reasons might explain the challenge, and understanding these factors can improve the chances of a successful capture:

  • Suspicion and Wariness: Raccoons are naturally cautious animals. If they sense something unusual about the trap or the surrounding area, they may become wary and avoid it. Ensure the trap is well-concealed, and any human scent is minimized during setup.
  • Unappealing Bait: The choice of bait plays a crucial role. Raccoons have diverse tastes, so using a bait that doesn’t appeal to them may result in avoidance. Experiment with different bait options like marshmallows, cat food, canned fish, or peanut butter to find what entices the raccoon.
  • Poor Trap Placement: Incorrect trap placement can be a deterrent. If the trap is not positioned in areas where raccoons frequently roam or forage for food, they may not encounter it. Adjust the trap’s location based on observed raccoon activity to increase the likelihood of a successful capture.
  • Trap Anxiety: Raccoons may associate the trap with danger if they’ve had a negative experience with one before. If possible, use a new or thoroughly cleaned trap to minimize any lingering scents that could trigger anxiety.
  • Trap Size Mismatch: Raccoons may avoid traps if the size is not appropriate for their species. Using a trap that is too small or too large can decrease the chances of a successful capture. Ensure the trap dimensions align with the size of the raccoons in your area to maximize effectiveness.

How to Choose the Ideal Trap to Catch Racoon

Choosing the ideal trap to catch raccoons involves considering various factors to ensure effectiveness and humane capture:

  • Size and Design: Raccoons typically weigh between 10 to 30 pounds, with an average length of 24 to 38 inches, including their tail. Male raccoons are generally about 20% larger in size compared to their female counterparts. Opt for a live trap that provides ample space, measuring at least 32 inches in length, 10 inches in width, and 12 inches in height to comfortably accommodate an average-sized raccoon.
  • Material and Durability: Select a trap made from sturdy and durable materials such as galvanized steel or heavy-duty wire mesh. Raccoons are strong and resourceful, so a robust trap will withstand their attempts to escape.
  • Sensitivity of Trigger Mechanism: A sensitive trigger mechanism is crucial for a successful capture. Choose a trap with an adjustable and responsive trigger to ensure the door closes swiftly when the raccoon enters.
  • Visibility and Camouflage: While raccoons are intelligent, they can still be wary of conspicuous traps. Select a trap with a design that blends into the environment or, if necessary, consider adding natural elements like leaves or twigs for better camouflage.
  • Multi-Use Capabilities: Consider whether the trap can be used for multiple animal species. Some traps are designed to catch various pests, providing versatility if you encounter different wildlife challenges.

How Can I Create a Live Raccoon Trap At Home

Materials Required to Make DIY Trap:

  • Large box or wooden board
  • Wire mesh
  • Hinges
  • Nails or screws
  • String or twine
  • Bait (marshmallows, cat food, peanut butter)
  • Stick or wooden dowel
  • A small metal rod or wire for the trigger

Steps to Make DIY Trap:

  • Build the Trap:
    • Seal one end of the box or create a rectangular box with a wooden board.
    • Attach wire mesh to three sides, leaving one side open.
    • Use hinges to attach wire mesh to the open side, creating a door.
  • Add Trigger Mechanism:
    • Inside the trap, attach a stick or dowel horizontally, halfway up.
    • Secure the stick with a metal rod, allowing it to rotate freely.
  • Bait Placement:
    • Place bait at the back of the trap, beyond the trigger mechanism.
  • Set Up Trigger:
    • Connect a string to the stick, extending it out of the trap.
  • Position and Test:
    • Place the trap in a raccoon-active area.
    • Test the trap by pulling the string, ensuring the trigger releases easily.
  • Monitor and Release:
    • Regularly check the trap and wear gloves when handling trapped raccoons.
    • Release captured raccoons in a suitable location away from populated areas

When to Take Professional Help

When your efforts with a live trap prove unsuccessful, and signs of raccoon activity persist, seeking professional help becomes paramount. A failure to capture raccoons could indicate complexities in their behavior or habitat that require expert assessment.

Wildlife removal professionals bring specialized knowledge and advanced techniques, ensuring a more comprehensive understanding of the situation. Their assistance becomes crucial when faced with persistent challenges, allowing for a more effective resolution to raccoon-related issues and a restoration of peace to your property.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Catching Raccoons in Live Traps:

Q1: What type of bait works best for trapping raccoons alive?

A: Raccoons are enticed by various foods, but specific bait preferences can increase trapping success. Popular choices include marshmallows, cat food, canned fish, or peanut butter. Experimenting with different baits allows you to find what appeals most to raccoons in your area.

Q2: How do you prevent raccoons from detecting human scent on the live trap?

A: Minimize human scent by wearing gloves during trap setup. Additionally, consider cleaning the trap with unscented soap or immerse it briefly in an environment where raccoons frequently to reduce unfamiliar odors.

Q3: Can live traps be effective in urban areas with high raccoon populations?

A: Yes, live traps can be effective in urban settings. Identify key locations like alleys, entry points, or areas near garbage bins, and strategically place the trap. Urban-adapted raccoons often respond well to live trapping methods.

Q4: Is there a way to catch a raccoon without using a live trap?

A: Yes, an alternative method involves using a one-way exit funnel. Install it at the raccoon’s entry point, allowing it to leave but not re-enter. Once outside, the raccoon can be safely guided away from your property.

Q5: How do you handle a trapped raccoon to ensure both its safety and yours?

A: Wear protective gloves and approach the live trap calmly. Covering the trap with a blanket can help calm the raccoon during transport. Release it in a suitable location away from populated areas, following local wildlife release regulations.


In conclusion, effectively dealing with raccoons using live traps requires a strategic and humane approach. By carefully selecting suitable traps, placing them strategically, and utilizing enticing bait, you can increase the likelihood of capturing these clever creatures. Understanding the factors that may deter raccoons from entering traps and addressing them with patience and persistence is key. Whether in urban or natural environments, adapting your trapping methods to raccoons’ behavior enhances the chances of a successful and humane resolution.

Additionally, considering alternative methods like one-way exit funnels provides practical options for managing raccoon nuisances. Ultimately, by prioritizing the well-being of both raccoons and your property, you contribute to a harmonious coexistence with these resourceful animals.

About Tanya Garg 82 Articles
I'm Tanya, the dedicated raccoon enthusiast behind My mission is to share my knowledge about raccoons through insightful blogs, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these intelligent creatures. Join me on a journey to learn more about raccoons, their behavior, and the importance of ensuring their safe relocation when necessary. Let's together create a world where raccoons and humans coexist harmoniously and safely.