What Are Raccoons Afraid Of? (10 Things That Scare Raccoons)

In this article, we’ll answer the question:

“What are raccoons afraid of?”

First, you’ll find a short summary of the fears a raccoon has in its natural habitat, then get a detailed list and explanation of the things that scare raccoons such as predators, human activities, and scents which deter them from entering or staying in certain places.

Raccoons are medium-sized mammals in the family Procyonidae under the order Carnivora. These omnivores are native to North America but are also distributed across mainland Europe, the Caucasus, and Japan, and are well-known for their striped ring-tail appearance.

racoon running afraid

What Are Raccoons Afraid Of?

Raccoons are afraid of natural predators, human activities, and scents that scare them away from a habitat. Examples include birds of prey, carnivores, reptiles, hunting and trapping, poisoning, electrocution, vehicles, hot pepper, ammonia, and peppermint oil.

Natural Predators

Raccoons have few natural predators in their native range of North America, but they may encounter some animals that can prey on them, especially when they are young or sick. Some of the natural predators of raccoons that scare these mammals are:

Birds of Prey

Hawks, owls and eagles can swoop down and snatch raccoons from the ground or trees. They usually target baby raccoons or small adults that are alone or exposed. Raccoons are afraid of these birds and will avoid areas where they are present or active.


Bobcats, foxes, coyotes, wolves, bears, cougars, lynx and ocelots are some of the mammalian predators that can hunt and kill raccoons. They may attack raccoons at night when they are active or during the day when they are resting in their dens. Carnivores may also compete with raccoons for food and territory. Raccoons are afraid of these animals and will try to escape or fight back if confronted.


Alligators, crocodiles and large snakes can also kill raccoons if they encounter them near water sources. Raccoons may be bitten, constricted or dragged into the water by these reptiles. Raccoons are afraid of these animals and will avoid swimming or drinking in areas where they are present or active.

Human Activities

Humans are the biggest threat to raccoons, as they can kill them intentionally or unintentionally through various means, such as:

Hunting and Trapping

Raccoons are often hunted or trapped for their fur, meat or as pests. Hunters may use guns, dogs, traps or poison to kill raccoons. Trapping may be legal or illegal depending on the location and season. Trapped raccoons may die from injuries, stress, exposure or drowning. Raccoons are afraid of humans and will avoid areas where they hear gunshots, barking dogs or other signs of human presence or activity.


Raccoons may ingest poison that is intended for rodents, insects or other pests. Poisoning can cause internal bleeding, organ failure, seizures or death in raccoons. Some common poisons that can kill raccoons are bromethalin, anticoagulants and zinc phosphide. Raccoons are afraid of these poisons and will avoid eating food that smells or tastes strange or has been tampered with.


Raccoons may be electrocuted when they climb power lines, transformers or fences. Electrocution can cause burns, cardiac arrest or death in raccoons. Raccoons are afraid of these electric shocks and will avoid climbing on wires or metal structures if possible.

Vehicle Collisions

Raccoons may be hit by cars or trucks when they cross roads or highways. Vehicle collisions can cause severe trauma, fractures, internal injuries or death in raccoons. Raccoons are afraid of these vehicles and will try to avoid crossing busy roads or highways if possible.


Raccoons have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources. However, there are some scents that raccoons strongly dislike, and can be used to repel them from certain areas. Some of the scents that raccoons hate are:

Hot Pepper

Hot pepper spray such as a bear mace can irritate the eyes, nose and mouth of raccoons and make them flee from the area. You can spray hot pepper on garbage cans, plants, fences or other places where you don’t want raccoons to go. You can also make your own hot pepper spray by boiling chopped peppers in water and straining the liquid into a spray bottle.


Ammonia has a pungent smell that raccoons find unpleasant and associate with urine. You can soak rags in ammonia and place them around your property to deter raccoons. You can also pour ammonia into a spray bottle and spray it on garbage cans, plants, fences or other places where you don’t want raccoons to go.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has a strong minty smell that raccoons find offensive and overwhelming. You can dab peppermint oil on cotton balls and place them around your property to repel raccoons. You can also mix peppermint oil with water and spray it on garbage cans, plants, fences or other places where you don’t want raccoons to go.

What Do Raccoons Hate the Most?

Raccoons hate the most scents that are strong, pungent, or spicy, such as hot pepper, garlic, onion, peppermint oil, and Epsom salt. These scents irritate their sensitive noses and make them avoid the area. Raccoons also hate the smell of predator urine, such as coyote or wolf urine, which makes them fear for their safety.

Will a Porch Light Keep Raccoons Away?

A porch light may or may not keep raccoons away, depending on how accustomed they are to human presence and activity. Some raccoons may be deterred by a bright light that disrupts their nocturnal vision and exposes them to potential predators or threats. Other raccoons may ignore or adapt to the light and continue to scavenge for food or shelter. A motion-activated light may be more effective than a constant light, as it can startle or scare off raccoons that approach your property.

What Do Raccoons Hate to Walk On?

Raccoons hate to walk on surfaces that are sharp, sticky, slippery, or uncomfortable for their paws. Some examples of such surfaces are pine cones, gravel, aluminum foil, duct tape, or petroleum jelly. You can use these materials to create barriers or traps around your property to discourage raccoons from entering or crossing certain areas. However, these methods may not be very reliable or humane, and may also affect other animals or plants.

Learn More About Raccoons

Now that you know more about the things that attract raccoons, you may also be interested in these other educational guides on these mammals:

Things That Scare Raccoons Summary

You now know the answer to the question about what are raccoons afraid of.

As you discovered, there are three primary sources that scare raccoons: natural predators, human activities, and scents. Raccoons are smart and adaptable animals that can survive in many environments and situations. However, they also have some fears that can deter them from entering or staying in certain places. Knowing what raccoons are afraid of can help you prevent or solve raccoon problems in your property.