How to Catch a Raccoon Without a Trap? 3 Expert Tips

If you’ve been searching for ways to catch a raccoon without a trap, we understand your concern.

While traps are a common tool for catching raccoons, we know that many people prefer a trap-free approach.

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to catch a raccoon without a trap.

In this article, we cover all the methods you need to know to successfully catch a raccoon without causing them harm.

So, if you’ve been searching for effective and humane ways to catch a raccoon without a trap, this article is the only one you need to read.

We’ve tested and compiled a list of methods that actually work, from understanding raccoon behavior to effective luring techniques.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to catch a raccoon without a trap.

Understanding Raccoon Behavior

Before attempting to catch a raccoon without a trap, it’s important to understand its behavior.

Raccoons are intelligent and adaptable creatures with unique habits and tendencies.

By understanding their behaviors, you can increase your chances of successfully catching a raccoon without causing them harm.

How to Catch a Raccoon Without a Trap?
Understanding Raccoon Behavior

Raccoons Are Nocturnal Creatures

  • Raccoons are creatures of the night, known as nocturnal animals.
  • They prefer to venture out under darkness to search for food, explore their surroundings, and avoid potential threats.
  • Their exceptional night vision and sharp senses help them easily navigate the darkness.

Raccoons Are Highly Intelligent

  • These little rascals are more than just cute faces.
  • Raccoons rank among the most intelligent animals in the wild.
  • Their problem-solving skills and adaptability have earned them a reputation for being resourceful creatures.
  • This intelligence can make them quite the challenge to outsmart.
13 Facts about Raccoons (Thera Planet)

Raccoons Are Curious

  • Raccoons are naturally curious beings.
  • Their inquisitive nature often leads them to explore new environments, including human settlements.
  • The smell of food or the promise of hidden treasures can pique their curiosity and draw them toward your property.
Related Article – What Do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons Are Social Creatures

  • Raccoons are not solitary animals.
  • They often live in small family groups and share a bond with their young.
  • Mother raccoons are attentive parents, nurturing and protecting their offspring until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

By understanding raccoon behavior, you’ll be better prepared to handle them effectively and humanely.

How to Lure Raccoons Out of Hiding

If you’re trying to catch a raccoon it’s essential to know how to lure them out of hiding.

Luring raccoons out of hiding can be a challenge, but by using the right techniques you can effectively attract them to your desired location.

Here are some proven methods for luring raccoons out of hiding.

How to Catch a Raccoon Without a Trap?
How to Lure Raccoons Out of Hiding

Place Food Strategically

  • Raccoons are opportunistic eaters, and the promise of a delicious meal is often too tempting to resist.
  • To lure them out of hiding, place enticing food near their suspected hiding spots.
  • Foods like cat food, dog kibble, peanut butter, or even ripe fruits can grab their attention and coax them out

Use Motion-Activated Lights

  • Raccoons are creatures of the night, and bright lights can be startling to them.
  • Place motion-activated lights near their hiding spots, such as at the entrance of a den or near a potential escape route.
  • The sudden illumination might pique their curiosity and encourage them to investigate.

Make Some Noise

  • As nocturnal animals, raccoons rely heavily on their keen sense of hearing.
  • Make some noise near their hiding spot to capture their attention.
  • You can try tapping on a bucket or using a gentle shaker to create sounds that mimic natural disturbances.

Use Smelly Socks or Clothing

  • Believe it or not, raccoons are curious about human scents.
  • Leave some smelly socks or clothing near their hiding area to intrigue them.
  • The presence of human scent might make them curious enough to peek out and investigate.

Play a Radio

  • Leaving a radio playing softly near their hiding spot can create the illusion of human presence, making raccoons more hesitant to remain hidden.
  • Human voices or music might prompt them to be cautious and curious about the potential human activity nearby.
Be patient when trying to lure raccoons out of hiding. 

They may not appear until late at night or early in the morning. 

It's also important to avoid making loud noises or sudden movements, as this may scare the raccoons away.
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How to Catch a Raccoon Without a Trap?

There are several effective and humane methods for catching raccoons without a trap.

Here we’ll cover three popular methods (tried and tested) for catching raccoons without a trap.

How to Catch a Raccoon Without a Trap

Using a Bucket

The bucket method is a clever and safe way to catch raccoons without causing any harm to them.

Here’s how you can do it.

Materials You Need

  • A large bucket with steep, smooth sides (at least 3 feet deep)
  • Bait (e.g., cat food, peanut butter, or marshmallows)
  • A ramp (e.g., a plank of wood) leading up to the rim of the bucket

  • Place the bucket in an area where raccoons are known to frequent, such as near their hiding spots or along their usual paths.
  • Position the ramp, ensuring it securely rests against the rim of the bucket.
    • The raccoon should be able to walk up the ramp and reach the edge of the bucket.
Best Live Trap for Raccoon & Skunk Easy Release (NBWildman)
  • Place the bait inside the bucket, enticing the raccoon to climb up the ramp in search of the delicious treat.
  • As the raccoon reaches the edge of the bucket to access the bait, its weight will cause the bucket to tip over, gently trapping the raccoon inside.
  • Once trapped, carefully approach the bucket, and cover it with a lid or a cloth to keep the raccoon calm.
  • Relocate the bucket to a safe and suitable release location, away from human habitation, and set the raccoon free.
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Catching by Hand

Catching a raccoon by hand requires caution, patience, and experience.

This method should only be attempted if you are confident in handling the raccoon safely.

  • Wear thick gloves to protect your hands from potential scratches or bites.
  • Approach the raccoon slowly and calmly, avoiding sudden movements or loud noises that may startle it.
Guy catches raccoon bare handed
  • Gently and firmly grasp the raccoon by its scruff (the loose skin around the back of its neck) to restrain it.
  • Keep a firm hold on the raccoon while avoiding any aggressive actions that may agitate it.
  • Carefully place the raccoon into a secure carrier or container for transportation.
  • Release the raccoon in a suitable location far away from human residences, ensuring it has access to food, water, and shelter.

Using Baits

Baits are widely used to attract raccoons into a specific area for easier capture.

Here’s how to effectively use baits.

  • Identify areas where raccoons are likely to frequent, such as near trash cans or their known pathways.
  • Choose enticing baits like cat food, marshmallows, fish, or peanut butter, as these can lure raccoons effectively.
  • Place the bait in a shallow dish or on a flat surface near the targeted area.
  • Be patient and allow the raccoon time to discover and approach the bait.
  • Once the raccoon is within reach, slowly and gently approach it to avoid causing panic.
  • Once you’re close enough, carefully secure the raccoon and transfer it into a secure container for transportation.
Catching raccoons without traps requires patience, a gentle approach, and respect for these intelligent creatures. 

Always prioritize their safety and well-being, ensuring that the relocation location is suitable for their survival. 
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Why Are Raccoons Difficult to Catch?

Catching raccoons can be a challenging task, even with the use of traps.

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, raccoons are intelligent animals that can quickly learn to avoid traps and other human-made devices.

They are also incredibly nimble and can easily manipulate trap mechanisms or escape from cages.

As explained above raccoons are nocturnal animals they are active at night and sleep during the day.

This makes it challenging to catch them during daylight hours, as they are often hiding in dens or other sheltered locations.

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When to Call Animal Control

So if you’ve followed all the steps we explained above for how to catch a raccoon without a trap, but you’ve failed to catch the raccoon multiple times, or if you’re hesitant to attempt catching the raccoon yourself, it may be time to call animal control.

Animal control services are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to safely and humanely remove raccoons from your property.

When calling animal control, provide them with as much information as possible about the raccoon’s behavior and location.

This will help them to determine the best course of action for safely removing the animal.

Animal control may use methods such as live trapping or exclusion to remove the raccoon from your property.

Attempting to catch a raccoon on your own can be risky, especially if you're not familiar with their behavior and habits. 

Calling animal control is always a safer option and can help to ensure the safety of both you and the animal.
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How To Know If All Raccoons Have Left Your Property?

It can be difficult to know for sure if all raccoons have left your property, especially if you have a large area to monitor or if the raccoons have multiple entry points.

However, here are some signs that may indicate that raccoons are no longer present on your property.

How to Catch a Raccoon Without a Trap?
How To Know If All Raccoons Have Left  Your Property

No signs of Activity

  • If you haven’t seen any signs of raccoon activity, such as tracks, scat, or damage to your property, for a few weeks or more, it’s possible that the raccoons have moved on.
  • Check the ground for raccoon tracks near trash cans, garden areas, or other places they frequented before.
  • The absence of fresh tracks may suggest that raccoons are no longer present.

No Noises or Smells

  • Raccoons can be noisy animals, and if they are living on your property, you may hear them moving around at night.
  • They may also leave behind a strong, musky odor.
  • If you haven’t noticed any noises or smells for days, it’s possible that the raccoons have left.

Blocked Entry Points

  • If you previously had raccoon issues inside your home, ensure that you’ve securely sealed off all potential entry points.
  • The lack of new evidence of raccoon entry suggests they are no longer gaining access.

Other Wildlife Activity

  • If you’ve noticed an increase in other wildlife activity, such as birds, squirrels, or rabbits, this may indicate that the raccoons have left your property.
  • Raccoons are opportunistic animals and will often prey on smaller animals, so if they are no longer present, other wildlife may feel safer returning to your property.
Kepp in my that raccoons are adaptable animals and may return to your property if they perceive it as a good source of food or shelter. 

To prevent raccoons from returning, it's important to take steps to deter them, such as securing garbage cans, removing potential food sources, and blocking off entry points.
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Final Thoughts

Catching a raccoon without a trap can be a challenging task, but it’s possible with the right approach.

Remember to approach raccoons with caution and respect, and to avoid causing them unnecessary harm.

If you’re uncomfortable handling wildlife on your own or if you’ve been unsuccessful in catching a raccoon, it may be time to call animal control.

Taking a proactive approach to deter raccoons from your property can also help to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place.


  1. Is it hard to catch a raccoon?

    Yes, catching a raccoon can be difficult, as they are intelligent, nocturnal animals that can quickly learn to avoid traps and other human-made devices.

  2. How to catch a raccoon without a dog-proof trap?

    You can catch a raccoon without a dog-proof trap using methods like a bucket trap, by hand (caution advised), or by using enticing baits.

  3. Can you catch a raccoon by hand?

    It’s possible to catch a raccoon by hand, but it’s not recommended unless you have experience handling wild animals.

  4. Will a raccoon bite me?

    Raccoons can bite if they feel threatened or cornered. approach raccoons with caution and avoid handling them unless you have experience and the appropriate protective gear.

  5. How do you lure a raccoon into a trap?

    You can use enticing baits like cat food, peanut butter, or marshmallows to lure raccoons into traps.

  6. Can raccoons outsmart traps?

    Yes, raccoons are intelligent and can learn to avoid traps if they’ve encountered them before.

  7. Should I feed raccoons to keep them away from my property?

    No, feeding raccoons can encourage them to stay on your property. Remove food sources to deter them instead.

Resources – (for further reading)

Montana State University – Non-Chemical Raccoon Control

I'm Ernest M Noah, the founder of I have years of experience as an exterminator in Texas and Idaho, and I'm passionate about educating people on how to deal with pest problems effectively and safely.