Raccoon (procyon lotor) is found in all 50 states. Easily recognized by its mask and ringed tail the raccoon is a nocturnal creature. Thriving in rural and suburban areas, most people do not realize that raccoons live amongst us.
Moving mostly at night raccoons feed on a wide variety for its diet. Eating insects, frogs, lizards, berries, fish, birds, eggs, grass, and human garbage makes the raccoon one of nature’s most adaptable creatures.
The raccoon has the ability to open doors, latches, and rip through building materials. These abilities have suited the raccoon well for finding shelter in trees, attics, under porches, inside soffit spaces, and in chimneys.
Frequent living for raccoons is usually near a water source. Creeks, lakes, sewers, and ponds are never too far from raccoon dwellings. The hustle and bustle of the big city keeps the raccoons hidden at night, but the high concentration of trash and waste water in the sewers has made the big city a favorite place for the raccoon to live.
In the winter time raccoons sleep days at a time but do not hibernate.
January is when breeding starts and can continue up until June, depending on the state. The gestational period last about 60 days and 3-6 pups are born. The pups will remain with the mother for about a year. The raccoon mother is very protective of her young and will attack if felt threatened.
Favorite places for a raccoon mother to nest is in a hollowed tree, down a chimney behind the cast iron damper, inside an attic, an interior wall, or inside the soffit space on the outside of the roof. Raccoons fall into the wildlife removal category, not pest control. No pesticides are used in any way to remove a raccoon.
Raccoon scat (feces) is easily recognized. It appears to be almost like a small dog dropping. The meal being passed is not always digested and easily identified. Where there is raccoon scat there is a raccoon. Spotting scat on a roof or in the attic is a sure sign a raccoon has taken up residence on your property.
Foot prints can be used for raccoon identification. The front paw print is smaller and sometimes a drag print is made in between the tracks from the tail. The hind track often does not show all the toes.
RACCOON REMOVAL PROCEDURES
Raccoon removal procedures are varied by the state regulations and the preferred method for each situation. The three most accepted methods are: live catch, trapping, and a scent deterrent.
Live catch is simply being able to be close enough to grab the animal either by your hand (if young enough) or with a catch pole. Most raccoon pups are caught by hand once the mother raccoon is removed. Only a trained professional wildlife control handler should attempt hand removals. The dangers of handling raccoons exceed the obvious, refer to the below section RACCOON DANGERS.
Trapping raccoons and removing them to a non residential area. Raccoon traps are set with peanut butter, marshmallows, dog or cat food, or my favorite is bacon grease. Setting traps in an attic should only be done by a trained professional wildlife control handler that is trained in taking a MAD raccoon down an attic stair step. Homeowners beware, traps malfunction and raccoons will attack you. Leave it to the professionals.
Scent deterrents have become a great way to get mother raccoons from unwanted spaces. The scent of a male raccoon scares a mother raccoon more than a predator scent. Male raccoons will kill the pups and re-impregnate the mother raccoon. Unfortunately, I have found entire litters dead with the mother still hovering over them after a male raccoon has found them. The smell is why the homeowners called and these are the facts of nature. Putting the scent in the area the mother is nesting will scare her into relocating the litter out of the attic, soffit, or chimney. This is cost effective because less trips are needed to resolve the situation.
Raccoons carry diseases, fleas, and toxic enzymes that can be transmitted to humans and household pets.
Diseases carried by raccoons are rabies, raccoon roundworm, and leptospirosis. Rabies is a virus almost always fatal contracted from a bite from an infected animal. Raccoon roundworm (baylisascaris) eggs are passed through raccoon feces. Other animals and even humans accidentally swallow the eggs from soil or water. Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is carried by rat, raccoon, and other animals urine. Water that has been infected by animal urine gets on skin or on pets coat, ears, nose, throat, or swallowed is how it is spread. When a raccoon urinates in the attic the bacteria is present and can infect anyone that comes in contact.
How to prevent the spread of raccoon diseases.
Getting rid of the raccoons is only part one of a three step process. Part two is clean up of the feces and the urine soaked insulation or sheet rock. Part three is to sanitize and deodorize the infected area to kill any missed or left over bacteria.