The Best Bait for Trapping Raccoons

When you're on a budget but want to get rid of some bandits, what's the best bait for trapping raccoons? Some of these may surprise you.

The Best Bait for Trapping Raccoons

The best bait for trapping raccoons is the one that works most effectively.

Right? That's one simple way of looking at the situation and, honestly, not a specific answer. But it's the right answer. Figuring out which bait works best for the raccoons in your area may require some trial and error.

Raccoons are smart, curious and enjoy eating. Put out the right bait and they'll come investigate. Whether you're using a leg-hold dogproof trap, a live trap or something else, get the right bait placed in the trap and you should have bandits coming to get it.

Here are some raccoon baits that could bring ringtails to your traps.


Buy the cheapest stuff you can find and make sure it's in oil. Tuna in water probably is fine, but I'd opt for anything in oil. The smellier the better. Raccoons love fish, the aroma will help attract them and several cans probably won't cost much at the dollar store or big box mart. If you open a can and it makes you wince due to the fishy aroma, that's perfect. 

Cat Food

Cheap, dried cat food usually is made with oily roughfish and has an inviting aroma. Inviting to raccoons, of course. A 3-pound bag of cat food costs only a few bucks. Carp, buffalo, gar and other non-glamor species often wind up in animal food. These tiny, cat-bite nuggets are loaded with oil, which raccoons will find. If it rains and the cat food dissolves, they'll still find it.

Wet cat food also is good. As with the dry, the cheaper and smellier the better.


The sugary sweet smell attracts raccoons to marshmallows. These little sugar bombs fit neatly in a dog-proof trap. Raccoons will reach in to get it and trigger the trap. Should you want to add a little boost to a marshmallow, put a few drops of oil from a tin of sardines or tuna on it after putting it in the trap.


Speaking of sardines, these are great to use. A few tins of sardines doesn't cost much. Open one and put a sardine or two in the trap. Use the oil, too, if you'd like a boost. I love sardines on crackers with some hot sauce and a cold Coca-Cola, but they're also great for catching raccoons.


Sugary fruits like canteloupe, watermelon or strawberries could be dynamite in spring and summer. Don't forget that raccoons will gobble native mast such as persimmons and other berries if (or when!) they find them. Ask at your local grocery store about any over-ripe or damaged fruit they possibly could sell or give you. Cheap jelly or jam also may work.

Peanut Butter

A nice schmear of peanut butter gets the job done. Swipe it on a slice of white bread for added oomph. Use creamy peanut butter. Chunky is the best for sandwiches, on white bread with grape jelly, of course.


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