Can Raccoons Climb Fences?

Raccoons are one of the cutest nocturnal animals. This is especially true when you compare them to other night movers such as opossums or bats.  However, raccoons can cause some serious problems around the home if they feel comfortable enough to stick around.

They are notorious for raiding outdoor garbage cans and not being neat about it. Other problems they may cause include denning in accessible areas of the home, mixing it up with family pets, and carrying rabies/parasites. 

Given the troubles raccoons can cause, many people wonder if a fence will keep them out of the yard. In other words, can they climb a fence? Let’s take a closer look. 

 Raccoons and Fence Climbing

Unfortunately, raccoons can climb fences. This is especially true for the typical wood or chain link fence found around many residential yards. The University of Nebraska Extension states that raccoons are “exceptional clumbers” and will attempt to climb, squeeze under, or through a fence. Digging under a fence by a raccoon can happen but it is often not worth their effort.

Additionally, they are smart enough to exploit weaknesses of a fence. For example, if a fence has a wide gap between boards or a loose board, a raccoon will often capitalize off these imperfections.

The below videos provide visual evidence of racoons climbing fences. You can see that their struggle to climb a fence or even a house is minimal. 

Raccoons Climbing a Chain Link Fence

You can see in the below video that even the young raccoons have little trouble climbing both the chain link and wood fences. 

Younger raccoons climbing fences

Even an extremely tall fence can be climbed by raccoons. The below video confirms how easy it is for raccoons to scale large structures. In other words, do not build a fence for the sole purpose of deterring raccoons. They will have a good chance of making it over it. 

Preventing Raccoons in the Yard

Since a fence is not an ideal way to prevent raccoons from entering your yard, let’s look at some other ways to deter them. 

Eliminate Food Sources – Gardens, fruit trees, unsealed trash cans, outdoor pet food, birdseed, compost, and grubs are examples of food sources that may attract raccoons and keep them coming back. If you eliminate the food sources or secure them away, your pest problem is often solved. Be sure to also eliminate water sources such as bird fountains, pet water bowl, and leaking outdoor spigots. 

Eliminate Shelters – In the yard, make sure potential dens or resting areas are eliminate or sealed off. This might include wood piles, sheds, porches, and old trees to name a few preferred areas. Additionally, you can saw how well raccoons can climb a house in the above video. Make sure access to the attic or upper areas of the home are sealed as well. 

Scare Them – There are many products designed to scare away raccoons and other pests from the yard. These include ultrasonic signals, light flashers, and motion sensor water sprayers.  This Petbroo found on Amazon is an example of an ultrasonic pest repellent that also flashes lights. People often have success with certain types of these products, but remember that raccoons are smart and can quickly learn when something isn’t a real threat after a few encounters. 

Electric Fence – The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension states that an electric wire strand on the top of the fence using a UL fence charger is often effective at deterring racoons and other climbers such as skunks

Traps – It is often best to leave trapping to pest management professionals. They will be able to properly relocate the raccoon(s) or use other means of elimination as permitted or required by law. This Havahart X-L live trap is an example of a trap that may be considered for home use if you are able to trap in your area and are willing to humanely do so. 

Dogs – Raccoons can be deterred by dogs but they may also look to fight in certain circumstances. We do not recommend using a dog to deter raccoons considering the potential risks. You should consider leaving your dogs inside at night if raccoons are frequenting your yard.