How To Trap A Raccoon | Carlsbad NM Raccoon Control Tips

Humane Trapping & Relocation

Raccoon trapped on Callaway Drive in North Carlsbad.
Raccoon Caught In A Trap

i'm fairly confident that trapping raccoons in and around Carlsbad is pretty much the same as for most anywhere else. Southeast New Mexico or anywhere for that matter, these simple methods have worked fairly well for us.

There's nothing hi-tech about the "how" to do this. There is more to do with safety and handling when it comes to dealing with live wild animals such as raccoons.

And while we do offer raccoon trapping and relocating services in the Carlsbad area, this is actually one of those pest control tasks that doesn't require chemicals that some (not all) folks can do themselves...if they just knew how. This is for them.

Before I go any farther. Raccoons are wild animals that do carry several diseases. Sure, they're cute. And they are extremely mean and especially when caught in a trap. They can carry rabies and even their feces can transmit airborne diseases. Special handling is also required if you catch one. I'll talk more about handling, relocating, and health safety more in the article.

So why would we show folks how to do it themselves if we offer this service ourselves? Honestly, it seems that the raccoon population in Carlsbad has exploded and it simply takes a lot of time we don't have to continually monitor traps, re-bait traps, and relocate Raccoons when we catch them. This is especially true when folks have a lot of raccoons on their property.

So again, we will be glad to take care of this for you. But it may take a while for us to get there and it may get costly. Or you can read on and discover how to take care of your varmint issues yourself.

The majority of the calls we get are from around the LaHuerta and Orchard Lane neighborhoods of North Carlsbad. In this area, the living conditions are perfect with plenty to eat, lots of water from the Pecos River, and lots of Pecan and other trees for shelter. So most areas around the country like this with water, shelter, and food are likely to have raccoon or other varmint issues.

  • How Do I Know It's A Raccoon
  • It's A Raccoon - I Need A Trap
  • What Bait To Use For Raccoons?
  • Bait Placement
  • I Caught A Raccoon - Now What?
  • Safe Handling
  • Transporting
  • Releasing A Wild Raccoon
  • Is It A Female - Lactating Female

How Do I Know If I Have Raccoons?

Other than actually seeing them, there are other ways to know and identify if it's Raccoons causing your issue or something else.

Damage Caused By Raccoons

The number one cause and sign of damage that we get raccoon calls on is damage to lawns from raccoons digging grub worms out of the lawn. Most folks don't have any idea what it is other than they know it has to be some kind of an animal. And so they call us or some other pest control company.

Sometimes it's skunks but more often, it's raccoons. This of course is a sign that you also have grub worms in your lawn. And so beyond trapping the raccoons, lawn grub control will be needed to lessen the attraction to your yard.

Physical damage to property and structures is most often caused by gaining access. Sheds, storage areas, and most often, attic vents and open spaces on roofs are the most common damaged areas.

Raccoons gaining access into your attic is an issue that needs to be dealt with right away.This is especially true in late winter or early spring when female raccoons may be looking for a place to nest.

Poop, Scat, Feces Identification

Poop, Scat, Feces, etc. identification is one way to tell if it is raccoons causing your issues. Raccoons are omnivorous which means they eat most anything. And their feces will generally reflect what is in their diet. Most often, at least in the Carlsbad area, there is a presence of seeds and nuts in the scat.

Photos for identification can be helpful. Wildlife removal has some good photos for identification. See raccoon scat photos for several different examples of what raccoon poop looks like.

A word of caution about raccoon scat and droppings. Raccoon poop can potentially carry several different diseases that can be harmful to humans and pets. See Infectious Diseases Of Raccoons for more information about this Proper handling and personal protective equipment is critical.

It's A Raccoon - I Need A Trap

Remember that we're doing a humane catch and relocation and so we'll need a live catch trap that's large enough to handle a large raccoon if necessary. The trap should have an opening of at least 10"x 10" and be at least 30" long.

At the time of writing this, you can get a two trap set Catch & Release Live Animal Trap From Tractor Supply for 20 bucks. That's about a good a deal as you can get. You could also go online and search for "Catch & Release Live Animal Trap" and maybe find something comparable.

*** Once you get your trap, you'll want to get familiar with it BEFORE you get a live raccoon in it. Get familiar with how it works, how to set and bait it, and most importantly, how to open it to release the raccoon you're going to catch. You'll want to know all this ahead of time.

Where And How To Place The Trap

Of course, you'll want to place your traps where you see the most activity or evidence. While this is obvious, there are a few things we've learned about how to place traps rather than where to place them that may help you save some time and avoid some costly mistakes.

In The Lawn & Landscape

As I mentioned above, raccoons can cause a lot of damage to lawns when they're digging for grubs. And if feeding is good, they'll return to the same spot night after night. So of course, that's where you want to place your traps.

O.K., here's the words of advice about this. Place a piece of plywood under the trap that's at least a few inches larger than the trap on all sides. Why? Because once the door on the trap closes, that raccoon will pull every bit of lawn and soil underneath the trap, right inside with it. They will shred your lawn.

Raccoon caught in trap in west Carlsbad pulling landscape fabric into trap.
Raccoon Pulling Landscape Fabric Into Trap

As well, don't place the traps too close to any desirable plants, over or near sprinkle heads and hoses, or anything else you may want to keep.

As you can see in the photo to the left, this raccoon has pulled the ground cover mulch as well as the landscape fabric underneath into the trap.

We thought this one would be fine being placed on such a thick cover away from everything else. We were wrong. It's best to use a platform most everywhere just to be safe.

Roof Placement

Placing traps on roofs may be necessary if you have one or more taking up residence in your attic or just frequenting your roof a lot. I'd say, the main lessons we've learned about placing traps on roofs are -

  • Use a board platform under the trap. They will shred shingles and even scratch up metal roofs when caught.
  • Don't place the trap close to any wires, vents, pipes, etc. If they can get a hold of them, there will need to be repairs.
  • Make sure the trap can't roll off the roof if a raccoon gets in it. Ya. This happened. Fortunately the raccoon wasn't hurt but he was way mad.


What Bait To Use For Raccoons

Hi-Tech Raccoon Bait

While the bait we use is simple and inexpensive, it is what works best and it helps keep us from catching all the neighborhood cats. We use marshmallows. That's right. And they don't even have to be the expensive brands. They're all gourmet to them.

Raccoons are omnivorous meaning they will eat most everything. This includes marshmallows which they seem to like a lot. And so, while this makes a good bait, at the same time, it's not attractive to cats.

Our last trapping job right off of Orchard Lane in North Carlsbad produced three raccoons, one fox, and two squirrels using marshmallows as bait. And not one cat.

Proper Bait Placement

A marshmallow used as raccoon bait in a live trap placed under the trap behind the trigger.
Marshmallow Raccoon Bait In Live Catch Trap

It's one thing to have hi-tech bait. But if the raccoons and other critters can steal it, it doesn't matter how hi-tech it is. So how you place and secure the bait inside and outside the trap will help ensure better success.

Placement outside the trap is simple. Just two pieces leading in and one piece before the trap trigger. How you place it behind the trigger is what matters. If it's not secure, they can steal it too.

In this photo, you can see how we've placed the marshmallow under the trap between it and our platform board. Setting it like this requires a little work to get it and increases our chance of the raccoon stepping on the trigger.

I Caught A Raccoon - Now What?

First - Remember - Raccoons are mean wild animals that can carry diseases

Safe Sanitary Handling

Of course, I don't have to tell you not to try and pet the raccoon or stick your finger in the trap. Na. I didn't need to say that. However, there are things to consider when handling and relocating raccoons.

As I mentioned earlier, raccoons not only carry diseases that can be transmitted through biting and fluids such as rabies, their airborne dried feces can also carry disease. And since you're not going to try to pet it or stick your finger in the trap, we won't focus so much on getting bit. But rather on sanitation.

Here are some considerations for safe proper handling -

  • Wear at least a N95 dust mask when handling, transporting, or releasing.
  • Wear nitrile or similar type glove when handling trap and bait.
  • Disinfect trap, trapping, holding, and transport areas.

If immediate transport isn't possible

  • Keep raccoon in shade out of weather.
  • Feed sliced apple through trap - Provides food and water.
  • Transport as soon as possible
  • Disinfect trap, trapping, holding, and transport areas.

Is The Raccoon A Lactating Female

This isn't something that most folks would consider. However, with humane trapping and relocation of any wild animals, it needs to be considered. Not only is it inhumane to relocate a mother raccoon without her babies, it can also create some difficult situations. The biggest possibility of this is in the spring and early summer.

Often it's obvious and easy to tell if the raccoon is a nursing mother. Often, it's teets are visible and even moisture may appear present. Other times, it may not be so obvious. The best you can do is be mindful of the possibility and look for the signs. If there's any question or possibility, it may be best to wait until she brings the babies out.

Transporting And Re-Locating

There are really just a few things to keep in mind when transporting a trapped raccoon to its new home and releasing it.

  • You need to take it a good enough distance so that it won't return. I have heard of raccoons traveling ten miles or so to get back to where they were trapped. I don't know this for certain but we've made it the general rule. At least ten miles.
  • Take it somewhere where it will have a good chance of survival. Like around water. We generally release ours on different areas of Black River and the Pecos River.
  • When transporting in a vehicle, use the platform board and make sure there's not anything near the animal. Again, it will shred anything it can get a hold of.
  • Try to make the transport be as little shock to the raccoon as possible. It really has no idea what's going on. As well, keep it out of direct sun and too much wind in the back of a truck.

Releasing A Trapped Raccoon

A trapped raccoon being released on the Pecos River near Brantley Dam.
Releasing A Trapped Raccoon - Pecos River

Releasing a raccoon or any trapped animal back out into the wild can be the most intense moment of the entire process. Your mind thinks, there's no telling what this critter is going to do when it's out of the trap. Will it turn around and attack me?

These are all valid concerns and thoughts. And you should treat it seriously and be prepared. However, my experience so far is that the raccoon wants to get away from you just as much as you want it to.

So point the trap opening toward the water or wide open spaces, stand behind it, open it and keep your fingers out of the way.

Carlsbad Raccoon Control

Once again, Horizon Pest Control does provide wild animal trapping and relocation services in and near the Carlsbad New Mexico area. However, at the time, there seems to be more raccoons than we can get to. So if you need any advice or help with this, give Horizon Pest Control a call for service today at 575-725-9331 .