When Camping Outdoors Do Raccoons Attack Tents?

Raccoons are nocturnal animals that can be found across the majority of the United States… and your campsite is no exception.

In fact, because of their love for human food, raccoons have earned a reputation for being a real nuisance around campgrounds throughout the country.

We know your food isn’t safe from raccoons if left unprotected, but do you have to worry about raccoons attacking your tent at night?

Let’s take a look at whether raccoons are known to attack tents, plus how to keep them out of your tent and away from your campsite.

Do Raccoons Attack Tents?

So, when camping outdoors do raccoons attack tents? Technically, no, raccoons don’t attack tents. But that doesn’t mean they won’t attempt to enter a tent if there’s food in it.

In fact, raccoons aren’t even known for attacking humans, dogs, or other pets, let alone tents unless they are provoked (or are rabid). But, they can sometimes be curious and may even approach you. And if startled, raccoons may bite or scratch in self-defense, which is why it’s advisable to avoid them altogether.

With that said, raccoons are one of the few animals that can and will damage tents with their teeth and claws if they are trying to get in. Raccoon’s sharp nails and powerful jaws could easily tear or puncture holes in even heavy-duty tent fabrics.

Raccoons are incredibly crafty creatures with almost human-like hands (minus the thumbs). This allows them to open doors, windows, coolers, and just about anything else you can think of.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), they likely won’t unzip your tent’s door zippers to gain entry. Instead, they will claw or bite their way through the fabric.

But even in this case, they are not attacking your tent. They are just trying to gain entry to get any food that’s in your tent.

Luckily, you can prevent this from happening altogether.

How Do I Keep Raccoons Out of My Tent?

The best piece of advice to keep raccoons out of your tent is to simply not store food in it at night.

It’s that simple.

There are a dozen or so home remedies to keep raccoons out of your tent, like placing mothballs or fabric softener sheets throughout your tent, spraying ammonia around the campsite, or even sprinkling strong spices like cinnamon or chili pepper around the tent’s perimeter.

They don’t work.

A determined raccoon will not be deterred by any of those things if you have what it wants in your tent – food.

So, again, to effectively keep raccoons out of your tent, do not store food in it during the night when they are active.

How to Keep Raccoons Away From Campsite

What’s better than keeping raccoons out of your tent? Keeping them away from your campsite completely!

And again (I hate to sound like a broken record), it really comes down to properly storing food and getting rid of any food remnants that might be in or near your campsite.

There are several effective ways to do this, and you should follow every one of these tips that are applicable.

  1. Proper Food Storage: The best approach to keep wild animals out of your campsite is to store your food safely and away from raccoons’ reach. Consider using lockable, hard-sided food storage containers, steel dedicated bear boxes, storing food in a locked car if local laws allow it, or backpacking with a bear canister like the Backpacker’s Bear Vault
  2. Use a Bear-Proof Cooler: Raccoons are capable of opening regular coolers, so having a bear-resistant model will protect your food from being stolen at night. Bear-resistant coolers such as those made by Yeti (the Yeti Tundra Coolers), which have been bear-resistant certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee will help keep raccoons out (and away).
  3. Use Air-tight Storage Bags: Raccoons are known for their exceptional sense of smell, which may aid them in detecting food from miles away. Storing your food in air-tight, odor-proof bags might help keep those pesky raccoons away at night. You’ll still need to keep your food in raccoon-safe containers, but these bags should help in preventing raccoons from being drawn to your campsite in the first place.
  4. Cleanliness Is Key: Keeping your campground clean is a must to keep raccoons away. To do this, clean out your campsite every night, as well as sweep the site to find any food scraps that may have fallen on the ground, into your campfire, or into your stove’s burner. And don’t forget to thoroughly clean any eating and cooking utensils before bed.
  5. Empty the Trash Every Night: Raccoons are equally drawn to our trash as they are to our food. As a result, you’ll need to consider what you want to do with your trash while on your camping trip. If staying at a campground, you may be able to throw your trash into a raccoon-proof garbage container each night. The best option for backpackers out hiking away from a campground is to place any trash into an air-tight bag and then put that in their bear canister.

Not only will these tips help keep raccoons away from your campsite, but they will also help offer protection from other wild animals while camping, like bears, coyotes, mice, and so on.

Remember, the first step of campsite protection from wildlife is not to give them a reason to come to your campsite in the first place.

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