The Spring of Unsolicited Housemates, Urine Soaked Tennis Balls and Sleepless Nights

If you found this post from google when searching “how to remove raccoons from your house” and just want that, without any fanfare, scroll to the bottom.

Or if you are a visual person and don’t want to read this, go to my instagram (@bethany_jane) and watch my story highlight on the entire escapade. For some reason I can’t get it to upload correctly here.

It was a night like any other, I was snuggled up in my pregnancy pillow (if you haven’t tried a U shaped body pillow, or stolen your sister’s pregnancy pillow after she gave birth—like me, you don’t even know what good sleep is) dreaming of what my house will one day look like after renovations. Then, I heard it. I sprinted from my bed in a stupor (but since I sleepwalk I have a leg up on being able to accomplish tasks in the middle of the night) and ran to the back windows of my house, searching for someone running thru my yard and over the tarp covered frozen ground.

My neighborhood has had break-ins in the past so I was sure I heard a human. Last fall I tarped my yard in hopes of killing everything and being able to start over, so this winter it was a slick sheet under crunchy snow. The sounds were so loud and disconcerting, but I never saw anything. But it kept happening, only at night, near the back of my house.

One night I ran into my bathroom and with horror realized the noise was IN it. I strained my ear against each wall and started debating which friend I could convince to go into my attic and possibly come face to face with whatever creature stays awake all night (and instantly I thought of my favorite This American Life episode Squirrel Cop). A friend came and checked the exterior of my house and inside my attic but couldn’t see anything. But the noise continued.

It continued for months…almost three months to be exact.

Partway thru I realized that the sound was inside my chimney. My house has two that were bricked over years ago and have no inside access. Once I realized there was a layer of brick between me and them, it was bearable. But then I realized there were babies in there and they started getting real chatting. It was pretty obvious early on that this was a family of raccoons.

I did my share of googling. It seemed like a consensus that if raccoons are in your chimney, and they can’t get into your house, to let them be and when the babies are big enough they will move out on their own. Some pest companies can’t get the babies out so it is the easiest option. But then somewhere I read that they don’t like constant noise and you can sometimes annoy them out…

I went to LA for the weekend and butted a radio up to the chimney before I left. I was sure to leave it on the worst AM talk radio station I could find.

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When I got back I dropped by bags and ran into my downstairs bathroom to pee. I had my pants halfway down, when suddenly I whirled around and screamed, “what the hell is that noise?!” It only took me a second to realize that the radio had totally worked but to my chagrin the mom had moved the babies from my chimney and relocated them between my wall and bathtub by going into my crawl space. This was 1000% worst…

I tried putting the radio in the bathtub on full blast.

I tried turning on the shower.

I tried yelling at them to leave.

But they stayed. And not only did they stay, the did somersaults and tried to break-thru the wall, pushing small bits of material under my baseboards with their terrifyingly dexterous little hands. The noise died down a little and since it was after business hours, I thought I could last until the next morning to call a pest control company, so after showering on top of a family of raccoons, I went to bed—but not before making a oneway door on their entrance and setting up my security camera outside…

A few hours later, thru the drone of talk radio playing in my bathroom, I heard them from the second story of my house. I heard their cries, their somersaults and their little hands ripping at my tub jets. I ran downstairs and in total dismay, sat on the closed toilet debating what to do. I tried everything I could think of, and finally I resorted to Marco Poling my sister on the east coast who I knew would be awake. At one point she said, “what are you going to do if they break thru? What exactly is your plan?” All I could reply was, “well I have a plunger I stick over the hole they make until I think of a better plan…”

After three hours of sitting on my toilet and debating my exit strategy if they came face to face with me in the bathroom, I glanced to my right and saw a beacon in the night, a half full can of Fabreeze. At this point I was halfway delusional but thought, if they hate extreme things, they will surely hate intense smells. I shoved the nozzle into the cracks of the tub (first time I have ever been stoked at the shoddy craftsmanship of something in my house) and pulled the trigger. As I sprayed a steady stream of fabric softener like scent into their faces I started to hear them squirm. Soon, I could hear them scurrying away from the tub. One stayed behind, crying probably because it’s siblings all left. Then suddenly the mom came back, grabbed the baby—who let out the most bloodcurdling scream—and dragged them under the tub to the others.

Sweet Victory!

(if I had a dollar for every time someone requested the video on the left, I could pay for the stupid pest control company. That means watch it—with the sound up—if you haven’t before)

My house was silent and I could grab a couple hours of sleep before work. I grabbed blanket and laid down on my couch, keeping one ear up to check on movement below my floor. I never heard a sound. My camera’s motion detectors never went off.

When I told my boss that I would have to leave in the middle of the day to meet a pest control company at my house, either the video she watched of me at 4 in the morning or my bloodshot eyes made conveyed that my sanity depended on this work absence.

I met the pest man at my house who explained to me that the best method for coaxing a female out with her babies is to throw, wait for it, male urine soaked tennis balls into my crawl space. You throw them in so they bounce all over spreading the delightful scent. Then the female gets nervous that the “male” will come kill the babies so she will vacate with the young. And guess what, this service is only $349! What a steal. Literally, a steal, as my friend quickly pointed out. But at this point, I didn’t care, I needed peace of mind a bathtub in once piece. (for the record, I am not easily swindled on every front, he wanted $95 to cover the 5x7 hole they were entering thru and $150 to put a piece of plywood on my chimney, I declined both of those highway robbery items…)

Once the balls were gingerly tossed to and fro he put many a classy piece of duct tape over the entrance, his way of knowing if the mom had come out (somehow my camera aimed at the hole wasn’t good enough…).

Days pasted.

No movement. No breaking thru the duct tape. No motion on the camera. No sounds.

Those bastards somehow moved out BEFORE I spent a small fortune on tennis balls. I have no idea how, my camera was always armed and I could hear them using the door I made. No now has any answers for this. The property has been checked multiple times for other entrances, there are none.

They won yet again.

On the plus side, I now how a bunch of tennis balls mixed in with the already plentiful amount of debris in my crawl space, every homeowners dream.

And if you came to this post to find out how to remove raccoons from your house, here is what you need to know:

  1. They do not like noise, constant bad talk radio WILL make them want to relocate.

  2. They do not like intense smells, such as Fabreeze, a partial bottle of airfreshner will suffice nicely—if you have direct access to where they are nesting.

  3. One way doors are for dummer animals

  4. Pest Control companies charge WAY too much and if they aren’t actually trapping (and then killing) the raccoons, they are basically useless because…

  5. …you can buy your own raccoon male urine AND tennis balls to douse on Amazon.

And if you use one of these methods and it works for you (or you laughed at my videos and realized I could have spent that money on something cool like the countertop I am about to buy), feel free to Venmo me (@Bethany-Davis-1) a few bucks for the HUNDREDS i just saved you by not calling pest control. You are welcome.

Oh and in case you were wondering, my brother in law covered the access to my crawl space, and yes, for free. I shall give him $95 worth of favors next time I stay at his house.