Trash bins provide a source of food for hungry critters, and a source of anger for homeowners who have to clean up from their meals. This article will explore how to identify what animals are snacking on your trash, and how to prevent them from becoming return customers.


raccoon by dumpsterRaccoons are tricky little trash bandits. They love to climb into dumpsters and knock over pails. Raccoons will dig through trash and can spread garbage and debris out to find the best scraps. They can use walls, poles, and trees to gain access to trash cans and dumpsters from above. They can also knock them over from the ground. A good indicator would be claw marks in plastic pails.


Skunks like to knock over pails and munch on scraps. Skunks are not as adept as raccoons at climbing, with long nails that are better at digging than gripping. They tend to bump into trash cans to knock them over, and may claw at the lid to get it off. Skunks can tear through softer plastic trash bins, but will prefer to knock them over if possible. Skunk claw marks, or their distinctive musk can help indicate that they are the source of your trash problem.


Opossums are not adept at getting into trash cans, but will often forage bins that raccoons and skunks knock over. They will often clean up scraps left behind by other animals. Their omnivorous diet mainly consists of mice, rats, and bugs such as slugs and ticks. Because they don’t really have the ability to access trash themselves, they often focus on their more natural food sources. Even in areas of NYC where garbage bags are left on curbs, opossums are more likely to forage in parks and gardens than scavenge in trash.


Squirrels are not well known for dumpster diving, but it is not uncommon. Squirrels may scrounge through trash for nesting debris or vegetable scraps. These expert climbers are too small to knock over a full trash bin, but can easily make use of an open can by climbing up and hopping in.

Preventing Trash Raids

The best way to reduce the likelihood of animals eating your trash is to get animal-proof pails with locking lids. Strong, sturdy pails with attached and locking lids will help stop animals from breaking into them. You can use bungee cords to keep your trash bins attached to your fence. For dumpsters, move them at least 3 feet away from walls, poles, and fences, to limit access from animals. Keep pail and dumpster lids closed and locked.

We specialize in the humane removal of raccoons, rats, squirrels, and other pests in the New York/New Jersey area. For a complete inspection and evaluation please contact us or call us at 718-227-7227 and we will be happy to make an appointment at your convenience.