12 Smells That Attract Raccoons (Best Bait)

Animals That Stay Up All Night - Raccoon
© iLUXimage/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kathryn Dueck

Published: August 31, 2023

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Despite their adorable appearance, raccoons carry diseases and can be dangerous if cornered, making them unwelcome visitors. If you find yourself plagued by one of these masked mammals, you may want to consider trapping and relocating it. In that case, it’s helpful to know what attracts raccoons and why. Generally speaking, raccoons can’t resist foods with a strong aroma and high fat or sugar content. Whether you’re looking to lure a raccoon into a trap or simply avoid attracting it in the first place, check out this list of 12 smells that attract raccoons!

Check out 12 smells that will be sure to draw raccoons to your door!

1. Garbage

Raccoon eat - eating garbage

Raccoons are notorious for getting into garbage cans in search of food scraps.

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Garbage, including food scraps, is practically irresistible to raccoons due to the pungent aroma and the sheer variety of appealing smells. Many a homeowner has heard the sound of this pesky mammal rooting around in their trash cans in search of a meal. If you want to lure a raccoon in, consider saving up your food scraps to use as bait. Just about any type of scrap will do, but sugary and fatty foods are best.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid attracting raccoons, consider buying trash cans with tight-fitting lids or locks. Alternatively, you can secure the lids with bungee cords to keep raccoons from prying them off. At night, you may want to try leaving a radio on or hanging blinking lights to fool raccoons into thinking humans are present. Check out this article for a list of smells raccoons hate.

2. Marshmallows

A guy with a girl and a dog by the fire to toasting marshmallows

Raccoons find the smell and taste of marshmallows attractive.

©iStock.com/Vadim Gavrilov

You may not think that marshmallows would be one of the smells that attract raccoons, but you would be wrong. Marshmallows are very sweet, which is exactly what these mammals love. They may even mistake them for eggs at a distance, which could spark their curiosity. As a bonus, marshmallows are unlikely to attract other types of animals to your yard.

3. Watermelon

watermelon

Watermelon is attractive to raccoons due to its smell, taste, and appearance.

©iStock.com/panida wijitpanya

This sweet, juicy fruit is an excellent way to lure in raccoons, which can’t ignore its strong odor. In addition to its smell and taste, watermelon’s vibrant red color will activate a raccoon’s notorious curiosity.

4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

fresh Satsuma orange "mikan" Citrus unshiu on the branch in an orchard in Karatsu, Japan

Oranges and bananas are two examples of pungent fruits attractive to raccoons.

©Matthieu Tuffet/iStock via Getty Images

Being omnivores, raccoons have no objection to eating fruits and vegetables in addition to their usual diet. They quite enjoy it. Fruits with a strong odor like oranges or bananas are especially likely to draw raccoons to a trap.

5. Sweet Corn

A Pile Dried White Corn for Background

Raccoons love the smell and taste of sweet corn.

©Ika Rahma H/Shutterstock.com

This sweet legume is among the top smells that attract raccoons. It’s also a type of bait that is unlikely to draw unwanted wildlife to your yard. Corn happens to be a staple of a raccoon’s diet, which makes it especially effective.

6. Honey

Closeup of honey bee and brazilian honey cookie chocolate covered - Pão de mel

Use honey on its own or drizzle over other types of bait to attract raccoons.

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Honey smells good to raccoons and is incredibly sweet, making it nearly irresistible as bait. Set some out in a dish to draw these masked pests to your trap. Here’s an additional tip: if you’re using one of the foods on this list but it’s just not doing the job, consider coating it with honey to make it more attractive.

7. Bacon

A plate of bacon overflowing in a skillet

Bacon is both pungent and fatty, making it ideal as bait.

©nelea33/Shutterstock.com

Everyone loves bacon, and raccoons are no exception. This fatty, smelly meat makes terrific bait for raccoons, who are unlikely to resist its draw. If you want to go all out, try setting out bacon grease alongside the meat.

8. Fatty Meats

Try using fatty chicken, beef, or pork to lure a raccoon to your trap.

©Jacek Chabraszewski/Shutterstock.com

Raccoons love to sink their teeth into anything fatty. This includes chicken, beef, and pork, all of which emit powerful smells that attract raccoons. Use the fatty scraps from your leftovers to lure raccoons into your trap.

9. Pet Food

royal canin kitten wet food

Wet cat food gives off a powerful aroma that attracts raccoons.

©Elizabett/Shutterstock.com

Pet food is a surefire attractant, especially odorous canned cat food. In addition to the smell, raccoons rely on grains and corn in their diet, both of which are ingredients in many kinds of pet foods. However, you may want to avoid using this type of bait if you have pets.

10. Fish

Maguro Sashimi Bigeye Tuna

Raccoons love the powerful aroma of fish, especially canned tuna.

©AIVRAD/Shutterstock.com

The pungent aroma of fish is among the top smells that attract raccoons. Canned tuna is especially effective as it’s both fatty and smelly. Just be careful that other animals don’t come running to your trap. If you or your neighbors have a cat, it’s probably best to avoid this particular type of bait.

11. Eggs

Basket with fresh picked white large goose eggs close up

The odorous smell of eggs is a great way to bait raccoons.

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As anyone with chickens will tell you, raccoons love eggs. Try placing an egg or two in a trap, with or without the shell. A raccoon’s superior sense of smell will easily pick up the pungent aroma. If you have chickens and you want to keep raccoons from going for the coop, place the trap away from the coop in an accessible location.

12. Birdseed

Common grackle

Raccoons are notorious for raiding bird feeders at night.

©Phil Rosner/Shutterstock.com

Raccoons are notorious for raiding bird feeders to get at the nuts and seeds, which they can smell from a distance. Unfortunately, these pests are able climbers, meaning they can reach even the highest feeders. The good news is, that you may be able to lure a raccoon into your trap by placing birdseed inside. This also goes for most types of nuts, which tend to have high-fat content.

Honorable Mention: Tin Foil

The last item on this list isn’t smelly or even edible, but it deserves an honorable mention. Tin foil is shiny, which appeals to a raccoon’s natural curiosity. Try taking advantage of this fact by placing a sheet or ball of tin foil in a trap. Though it’s not guaranteed to work, there’s a good chance the raccoon will find it just interesting enough to venture inside. By the time it realizes tin foil is inedible, it will likely be too late. And don’t worry about the raccoon hurting itself by ingesting the foil – these mammals are very good at figuring out what they can eat and what they can’t.

How to Bait a Raccoon Trap

raccoon mating season

There are numerous ways to safely and effectively trap and relocate troublesome raccoons.

©Sebastian Schwegmann2/Shutterstock.com

Knowing the smells that attract raccoons is just the beginning. Here are a few other tips for effectively baiting a raccoon trap:

  • Wear gloves when handling the trap and bait. The smell of humans tends to scare away raccoons, meaning they are less likely to approach the trap, much less enter it.
  • Weigh down the trap. Consider placing something heavy on top of the trap to prevent the raccoon from knocking it over.
  • Place the bait well within the trap. The goal is to lure the raccoon in, including its tail. Depending on the type of trap, you also want to ensure the raccoon gets far enough in to trigger it.
  • Use a bait trail to lead the raccoon to the trap. Raccoons are curious by nature, but they may not decide to approach the trap on their own.
  • Use foods that are less likely to attract other animals. Sugary foods are better than fatty foods for attracting raccoons as they are less likely to attract other animals to your yard.

Summary Table of Smells That Attract Raccoons

NumberSmell
1Garbage
2Marshmallows
3Watermelon
4Fresh fruits and vegetables
5Sweet corn
6Honey
7Bacon
8Fatty meats
9Pet food
10Fish
11Eggs
12Birdseed
A summary table of smells that attract raccoons.


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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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