Raccoons in Chimneys

Allstate Animal Control chimney trap with live raccoon.

Our specialized traps will catch that raccoon in your chimney.

One of the most common animal complaints I hear is that of raccoons in chimneys.  I get several of these calls every day.

Why chimneys?

Mama raccoon wants a place that is warm, dry and safe for her young.  When she walks across your roof and smells the chimney, to her it is like smelling a burned out tree.  She likes this man-made tree and so crawls right down in there to the cavity above the fireplace. 

Mothers seek safety from the male raccoons who would kill the babies if given the chance.  We often find murdered baby raccoons strewn across the rooftop because a male got to them before we did.  A male raccoon is threatened by the presence of babies, because it introduces to possibility of more male competition.

Common Mistakes

Raccoon climbing a chimney artwork
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her info.)

They must have fallen in. Sometimes people assume that raccoons are in their chimney because they fell in and can't get back out.  This is not the case.  Raccoons are excellent climbers, and the inside of your chimney has plenty of toe and finger holds for these strong and nimble creatures.  Babies may not be strong enough to climb up the chimney, but they are certainly able to climb down the chimney and into the fireplace, from which point they may go anywhere in your house.  If you see or hear raccoons on your roof, odds are that they also go inside the attic or chimney.

Don't smoke them out.   I have seen over and over again the results of a homeowner trying to smoke raccoons out of the chimney by lighting a fire in the fireplace.  This never works out the way it was intended, because you either kill the raccoons and they die and rot in there, or the mother leaves with maybe one of her babies, and the others are left behind.  Most of the time the homeowner was not even aware that there were babies in the first place. 

Don't seal them out.   The other mistake I see homeowners do is to wait until the big raccoon leaves and then seal off the chimney.  Same as before, you still have the problem of all those babies stuck inside that you didn't even know were there.  Remember, live babies in a nest are always easier to work with than dead ones scattered willy-nilly.  Live animals squawk and chatter and are much simpler to locate and remove. They will also cost you less money to remove than dead ones.

The Right Way

When removing raccoons, it is critical to get the mama and babies out together, so you don't end up with baby raccoons in your house or left in the chimney.  Although they make a real mess while they're living, they make an absolutely horrendous mess and smell after they die.  I have gone into chimneys to remove babies that were left alone to die and literally had maggots raining down on my head and on my hazmat suit.  This type of work is much more expensive for you and unsanitary for your home.   The best course of action when you have raccoons is to hire professional removal while the animals are alive and the family is intact.

My wildlife technicians are extensively trained and have experience in removing raccoons.  We have methods by which we are able to catch an entire family of raccoons at once, using the babies as bait and mama's instincts to protect her young to get her to remove them for us.  This method is safe and very effective, leaving no unnoticed babies  mistakenly behind.  This process is the best, and if at all possible is the one we like to employ.

We also have special cameras, chimney traps, and other specialized equipment to remove raccoons from hard to reach places.  It can be very difficult to get raccoons out of a chimney, but we have never yet had a job we were unable to complete.

Live or dead, once we get the raccoons out we finish up the job by removing all contaminated material and disinfecting the area, and by sealing off all access points so your problem does not recur.  If your ceilings and walls are stained with raccoon urine and fecal matter, you are surely very desirous to know that you only have to deal with this once.  A quality animal removal job will always prevent tomorrow's animals from coming into your house.

Raccoon defending it's territory drawing
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her info.)

A Word of Caution

Another thing to remember is that a mama raccoon will defend her babies with everything she's got.  If she feels threatened, or feels that her babies are threatened, she will manifest herself as a wild and unpredictable animal. 

I once sent two technicians out on a raccoon removal job where the chimney was in such a state of deterioration, the homeowner allowed them to destroy the chimney to get to the raccoons (he needed to rebuild it anyway). She had wedged herself and the babies between the flue and the brick, and when they slid the chimney off, she just went nuts.  She ran after Brandon, who had been on the ladder, like lightning.  He is a fast runner, but she was right on his heels, a ball of teeth and claws and fur.  Finally she was diverted over a fence and into some trees and he was fine, but had she caught him she would have ripped him apart.  A mother will do all in her power to protect her little ones.