Do Raccoons Mark Their Territory?

Adult raccoons can be aggressive animals who hunt for food at night. Despite the reputation for being dangerous to humans, which they can be when it comes to strong smells and sanitation, raccoons dig latrines to keep waste away from food sources and nests.

Because of their sense of smell, raccoons tend to be clean animals that use scents to communicate in overlapping territories.

Key Points:

  • Raccoons mark their territory by leaving scents from their anal glands and feces to alert other raccoons of their presence.
  • Mammals mark their territory to deter predators, locate food sources, and communicate with other creatures.
  • Prevention methods include using a water hose to discourage raccoons from returning and removing sources of feces as quickly as possible to avoid illness.

Male and female raccoons are solitary animals like raccoons, bobcats, mountain lions, and similar mammals. Sometimes a raccoon may decide your yard, with its many food sources, has become part of their territory and build a communal latrine. Unlike dogs who may leave droppings haphazardly, raccoons are strategic about where they go and will attract more raccoon presence once the bathroom is built.

This article has even more ways that raccoons let animals and people know that this is their territory and what you can do about it.

Do Raccoons Mark Their Territory?

Marking territory is a usual behavior among raccoons as individual raccoons choose to operate independently. Despite that, the presence of raccoons can easily be identified by communal latrines that are common along paths, on large tree branches, and near stumps and logs that keep nests, food, and water sources uncontaminated.

Raccoon restrooms also allow raccoons to keep track of neighbors in shared or overlapping yards.

Raccoons are known for marking their territory and letting competition and predators know that this is their area. They may not stay in the same place for very long and tend to be more transient than other nocturnal omnivores like bears or cats. Adult raccoons may claim territories as small as one mile or as large as 20 miles. Throughout this whole are, raccoon habits of scent marking are constant. 

The main way a raccoon marks surfaces is with butt rubbing. Strong smells are emitted from their anal gland (anogenital), as well as feces aiding in raccoon scent marking. All over their property, male and female raccoons will use their anal smell and the smell of urine to alert other raccoons of their presence so they can move through the same places without confrontation.

Reasons Mammals Mark Territory

Even though raccoons are considered solitary and territorial animals, they will still communicate with other creatures nearby. The main way adult raccoons and other mammals communicate is through smell. The raccoon activity of creating scents and leaving them on upright objects and trails help them when looking for a mate or announcing a food source. 

Raccoon urine can deter predators of other species from entering this furry animal’s territory. Like other wild animals, things like fresh water and different variety of food can be hard to find, so by marking areas with their scents; raccoons can protect what is there and relay information to other raccoons to help them survive. Below are what some of the scent-marking activities look like. 

ReasonWhat It Looks LikeWhat It Does
MatingScents left along trees and structures indicate a male is actively looking for a femaleWeaker males will avoid the area, and females looking to mate will be drawn there
ProtectionUrine and musk are used to alert other raccoons of a female with kits Keeps wondering or mating males out of these areas as females will be aggressive to protect kits
CommunicationCommon latrines and heavily used trails Lets raccoons keep track of neighbors and other animals in the area
WarningStrong and frequent scent markings, as well as urine and feces lets raccoons know of unusual dangers or other alarm-worthy circumstances

What are Some Ways to Prevent Raccoons from Marking Territory?

Before calling animal control after seeing a raccoon or two around your property, you can probably find a way to co-exist. Raccoons can co-exist as long as they aren’t domesticated. Raccoons that start coming to you for food or display more courage can become dangerous, but if space allows, no action is needed most of the time.

If a raccoon has made a common latrine in your yard, you will want to do something about it quickly. 

Raccoon urine contains a bacteria called Leptospirosis, which can transfer to humans and make them very ill. Additionally, raccoon roundworm and Baylis Ascaris procyonids exist in raccoon feces and can lead to problems if ingested by pets or end up in gardens with edible greens. To prevent you or your pets from getting sick, you will want to remove sources of feces and animal waste as soon as possible.

To make it unpleasant for raccoons to return to their latrine, you can use a water hose to spray the territory with water and the latrine to make it unappealing for raccoons who prefer dry surfaces for defecating. Make sure not to splash the feces around, or you could make more of a mess. A spritz of water is enough to send raccoons running most of the time, but since they hunt for food at night, it can be hard to catch them in the act.

You can prevent raccoons from returning to their pits if you cover the raccoon latrine with a layer of plastic for weaker plastics, use at least a double layer. The slippery surface of the plastic is foreign to raccoons, who will only move over surfaces they can grab onto securely. Covering the plastic with repellents can increase the effectiveness and mask the smell of the bathroom. 

Fences and predators like dogs and big cats can help keep wild animals out of your lawn and prevent them from creating a latrine. If you commonly have raccoons moving through your yard at night when no one is on alert, you can consider installing a motion-detected sprinkler to spray any pest in your yard at night. Eventually, any pests will find an easier territory to live in. 

How Do Raccoons Use Scent Markers?

Males travel alone unless they group up and females operate alone unless caring for a litter this means leaving scents is the main way they send messages to each other. Male territories often cover 1 to 20 square miles; males need to range further to find mates and will work harder to avoid competition.

Female raccoons have territories around 1 to 6 miles females need to keep kits safe and limit the territory to what they can safely patrol.

Marking scents lets other raccoons know where and when they were in an area last and other information, including how healthy they are. These messages help avoid confrontation due to territory overlap and make it easier to navigate dwindling wildlife areas.

The scents can also be used alerts raccoons of unfamiliar mammals and new visitors so they can adjust their route accordingly. Whatever the reason, raccoons will make their territory any chance they get using anal glands and feces and urine scattered where it is needed.