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Do Lights Keep Away Animals?

Do lights scare away raccoons and wild animals

In this post, we discuss whether outdoor lighting will keep away wild animals like skunks, raccoons, and others.

If you have unwanted wild animals coming into your yard and doing things like getting into your trash cans, digging holes or eating plants in your garden, you’re probably ready to try anything to keep them away.

There are many DIY solutions that will be suggested and one of them you will probably hear will be installing outdoor lights.

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Will installing outdoor lighting really keep animals away? Will lights keep away raccoons, skunks, and other pests?

 

Using outdoor lights as wild animal deterrents

Opossum showing teethIt’s easy to understand why you would think outdoor lighting would keep away animals. Many nuisance animals are only active at night, so it seems natural that they would be afraid of lighting in your yard.

This is somewhat true. An animal visiting your yard for the first time or first few times are going to be cautious and fearful. An outdoor light might keep them away.

However, this fear is likely not to last forever. Raccoons are much smarter than people often give them credit for. They learn from experience and have the memory to apply these lessons in the future.

Lights may frighten away an animal the first time they visit your yard but on future visits, they may not have the same effect. A raccoon is smart enough to learn that outdoor lights in your yard aren’t actually a threat.

The lights may work at first, but over time they may not continue to be effective.

Related: Do raccoon repellents work?

 

What types of lighting to use

Raccoons and RabiesIf you’re going try to use outdoor lighting to scare animals away, your best bet is to use motion sensor lights.

Lights that are off most of the time but triggered by movement are more likely to startle and deter wild animals. They also help take away hiding places, making them feel less safe.

It’s good to know what kind of animals you are trying to keep away because some will not be bothered at all by lights. These include mice, rabbits, and squirrels.

Raccoons and opossums may also be deterred by lighting, at least initially. The lights may become less effective over time if the same animals keep returning and learn there are not any actual threats.

 

Remove food sources

Raccoon with rabies memeInstall outdoor lighting if you want because it may be helpful, and might also keep away unwanted humans as well.

But the most effective deterrent you can use is to try and remove the food sources that bring animals into your yard in the first place.

They are coming into your yard looking for food. It might be that your trash cans are stored outside and they can get the lids off. In that case, secure your garbage can lids with rope, bungee cords or a weight of some kind.

Clean up fruits and nuts that fall from trees. Keep your compost piles covered. Don’t leave pet food out overnight. Fence in your garden with a fence at least two feet high and have the bottom edge go another 6-12 inches into the soil. Bend the fence outward into the soil and bury it.

Related: What animal is digging in my garden?

 

Remove hiding places

Besides using lighting to take away hiding places, you can also keep your yard clean to help keep wild animals from having safe places to hide or build a nest.

Clear debris from your yard, including leaves, and piles of sticks or wood.

Trim trees and shrubs away from too close to your home.

You can use wire mesh buried into the ground around decks and patios to help discourage digging.

Related: How to keep raccoons away from your home.

 

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