Raccoon FAQ’s: Info about Nuisance Raccoons
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Raccoons are one of the most commonly seen wildlife animals, they are also becoming one of the most well-known. In today’s day and age, you can see raccoons all over the internet in viral videos and memes, and on TV in commercials and movies. Many are starting to call them by an affectionate nickname of “trash pandas”, they are thought to be adorable and funny creatures but they are still very mischievous. Raccoons are extremely intelligent and can become troublesome. Raccoons are native to the North American Continent, however they have recently spread to other countries such as England. They have adapted to the ever-growing modern cities throughout America, and are able to thrive in suburban settings. In fact, if you’ve ever noticed your garbage can overturned and rifled through, you probably have a raccoon in the area. Raccoons can often grow to be over 20 pounds! While raccoons only have a lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild, they can live up to 20 in captivity. Their short lives are often due more to diseases, rather than natural predators – which they don’t have very many of.
When they aren’t in your neighborhood causing a ruckus, raccoons tend to stay in heavily wooded areas. They seek out a constant food and water source, which is why suburbs are becoming the perfect place for them to take residence in. When they are in the wild, they will use hollowed out trees and abandoned burrows to make their homes in. As you’ve probably guessed from their trash-eating habits, raccoons will eat just about anything, they enjoy fruits and veggies as well as meats. They are opportunistic animals and will eat anything so long as it's easily accessible for them, they will also eat eggs and insects when available.
Raccoons are more often than not nocturnal, meaning they are out in the evening; however, they will also come out during the day on occasion. It is a common belief that if you see a raccoon during the day it is sick, possibly with rabies or distemper, but this is not necessarily true. Raccoons will often sleep through the winter months and try to stay out of extreme weather. They are able to open doors or containers with ease, due to the amazing use of their paws that they have.
Signs of Raccoons in the Attic or Around Your Property
Raccoon activity is pretty easy to discover, rather it is outside on your property or up in your attic. Raccoons will not clean up behind themselves, and are known to leave a mess wherever they go. One of the most common things that you may notice are trash cans being overturned with the garbage in them strewn about. For those who own a pond in their yard, they have noticed fish carcasses discarded on the lawn around the pond half eaten. They will also dig up gardens to get to the fruits or veggies that you are growing. You often won’t be able to catch the raccoon in the act, as they scavenge late at night.
If your raccoon has figured out his way into your attic, you're more than likely experiencing more problems. Raccoons are heavy animals and will make loud dragging or thumping noises all throughout the night. Because of their large size, raccoons often sound larger than they actually are, often times like there is a person walking around in your attic. This can be exceedingly frightening for young children. When a mama raccoon is inside with her pups, you may also hear the crying of the babies late at night if the mama goes out hunting.
Rather you are hearing sounds or finding signs of destruction all over your yard, raccoons are rather easy to identify. This means that you are able to identify a raccoon problem quickly. While the removal process ahead is long and tedious, it is best to get a head start on the issue.
Raccoons in the Attic: Areas Raccoons Use to Access Your Attic
Raccoons will often choose to move into your attic, it provides them a safe place to reside and the fact that attics are elevated simulates the burrows in trees that they live in in the wild. Your attic provides them shelter from any harsh weather or natural predators. Often, you can be dealing with a momma raccoon seeking a safe place for her pups, and the added protection of your attic is perfect. Raccoon reproduction time is frequently in the spring, which means you may observe a considerable growth in raccoon activity during this time.
Raccoons are relatively large animals, especially to be getting into your attic, so they typically need a larger access points than many other animals. Raccoons are also relatively strong animals, and can often pull material out of their way to create their own access point, the most common area to see them do this is in the soffit. While less common, they can also gain access through an open garage door.
Among the most frequent areas that raccoons gain entrance is a roof return, this is the location where the soffit will meet the roof in a dark corner. Roofers will generally leave the spot open a little, making it easy for the raccoon to pull the soffit back and gain entry. They often use one main entry point, which can easily be identified by black rub marks from them pushing their way inside.
Low hanging branches over your home, make access that much easier for them. However, once a raccoon has made up their mind to get into their head, they will find any way they can to gain entry.
Raccoon Diseases: Health Risks from Raccoons in the Attic
While raccoons are common carriers of the rabies virus, they are also known for carrying many other diseases as well. A number of which are transferrable not just to other animals but people too – which, if you have household pets, can be double the bad news! Among the most common diseases that raccoons are known for spreading is roundworm, raccoons are often found carrying roundworm and excrete the eggs in their droppings. These eggs are possibly harmful to people and may become airborne, meaning they are capable of being inhaled. Another common disease spread by raccoons is leptospirosis, which is carried in their waste. It does require direct in order to be contracted, which is why it is vital to wear gloves when possibly coming into contact with raccoons or their waste.
While not disease related, there are other risks that are involved with having raccoons in your attic. Often, raccoons will destroy the attics that they are residing in. They are known for ripping insulation, scratching and perhaps even splitting the wooden beams, and possibly causing damage to the AC ducts. These types of damages can not only affect the integrity of your home’s structure at risk, but repairing these damages can also end up rather costly. Raccoons are known for chewing through electrical wiring as well, which can be a severe threat to you and your loved ones. If the break in the wiring goes unnoticed it can be a fire hazard.
While they may seem adorable, raccoons are a severe risk as soon as they're in your attic. The health risks and potential damage to your home are some of the main reasons you should take care of a raccoon problem as soon as it is noticed. The quicker you get ahead of the problem, the more you reduce your exposure to harmful risks!
Raccoon Poop: Raccoon Feces Identification Guide
Get ready, because this next part is nasty, identifying the poop. While gross, it is also one of the most important steps in identifying your attic guest. Identifying the poop that you find is the best way to make for certain that you are dealing with a raccoon and not a different animal. Their poop is distinctive from most other animals so the droppings are relatively easy to identify. The feces can potentially carry diseases though, so it is important to take precautions when possibly coming into contact with the feces.
Raccoon feces is often located in one set area, making it easy to locate, however there may be a few stray droppings elsewhere in the attic as well. Raccoon dropping typically favor those of a small dog, and are often 2-3 inches long. Unlike droppings made by rodents which are rice-like, raccoon droppings are more tubular shaped. You can often find berries in the feces of raccoons, it is one of the most common identifiers.
Raccoons utilize the "latrine system", which is why their feces are often located in one set area, they will select a designated area to leave their droppings. It is in this area, you'll most likely find massive piles of feces that's been built up from utilization of the region over time. Many times, these latrines can be found in corners of the loft space or alongside the walls. You can often find the latrine area away from where the racoon is nesting. This is because, like many mammals, they do not enjoy sleeping where they have waste.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons: Trapping, Exclusion, & Sanitation
So, what should the next steps be following confirmation that you have a racoon? Well, you will first need to identify how many raccoons you are dealing with – is there one or is there a mother and her babies? This is crucial to identify because, if there are babies in the attic, the mother will be more combative with you, especially if you are in the attic with her and her babies. You also run the risk of the babies dying in your attic if you trap the mother and don’t remove the babies.
One of the most important steps in raccoon removal is sealing your home to prevent possible re-entry. You may begin this process while the raccoons are still inside, however you cannot seal their main entry point while they are still inside. You can identify which access point is the main one by the presence of rub marks, feces, or hair near the entrance to the hole. If you seal the main entry while a mother is away from her babies, she will go ballistic trying to get back to them, potentially causing more harm to your house than initially.
The sanitation process is the final step in the raccoon removal procedure. While it is definitely the nastiest part of the process, the sanitation is also the most vital for protecting yourself against harmful bacteria’s that raccoons can bring in. It is best to wear gloves and a face mask for this, so if you don’t have any they would make a good investment. As long as no significant damage is done you can more than likely get the sanitation done relatively fast. All you will need to do is eliminate all stool in the area and proceed over the whole region with a disinfectant or bleach mixed with water. The worst case scenario is the raccoons might have done considerable damage to multiple things from inside the attic- such as insulation, beams, or AC work- which might require an expert to come out and repair.
Raccoon Trapping: How to Trap a Raccoon
You will most likely want to start trapping immediately to catch your raccoon as soon as possible. Your options as far as types of traps are incredibly limited, however the ones that are on the market have been proven to work! You can choose between a 1 door or 2 door trap, the only main difference is that with a two door trap you often have the capability of capturing multiple raccoons. You should be sure that you are purchasing large traps, or you may run into the problem of the raccoon not being able to fit into the trap.
One of the most important part of trapping a raccoon is placing the trap in the ideal location. This is often going to be the place where you see the most raccoon activity. An excellent location is frequently near the primary entrance point they're using, but you cannot place the trap on the roof so make sure you are placing it on the ground outside the entrance. Many people will try to place the trap in the attic or on the roof to increase their chances, however this is not the best decision for trapping. When a trap is on the roof, the raccoon can panic and cause the trap to fall off the roof; this could end up breaking up harming the raccoon, and even breaking your trap, allowing the raccoon to escape. If the trap is from the attic, the raccoon is going to freak out and begin grabbing at random things, resulting in even more devastation inside the attic that previously. Traps should be set on the lawn, close to fence lines and concealed by a tree or bush. If there is a set path that the raccoon takes frequently, you can also set the trap along the path.
When you set the trap, be sure that it is set properly so that the raccoon cannot walk in and out without triggering the door to shut. You should be certain to check your traps each single day, likely more than once daily, to make certain that once the raccoon is trapped, it does not suffer and possibly die from exhaustion. If you have been dealing with a mama and infants, you’ll want to try and trap the mother first, from there you can reach in and hand remove the babies. You’ll then be able to release the babies with their mother, giving all a chance to survive. Once you have your raccoon trapped, be sure to pick a spot far away from your home so that they don’t wander back. Try to find a nice wooded area with a water source for them to give them a higher survival chance.
What do Raccoons Eat: Best Bait to Use for Raccoons
Since you know that raccoons LITERALLY eat out of the garbage, you could be wondering what sort of baits are going to help you catch your unwanted guests. While it’s obvious that raccoons will eat pretty much anything you put in front of them, there are baits that raccoons will be more attracted to than others. Similar to a small child, raccoons will go crazy for sugary fatty treats. Because of this, one of the best baits to trap raccoons are marshmallows, the sticky sweet treats will tempt the raccoon in believing they are getting a chance to have their favorite fluffy treat. You can also use cat food, but be cautious with this method as you may often wind accidentally trapping the neighborhood cat a few times too- and in case you've got a crazy cat woman next door she won't enjoy it.
Be careful to not just haphazardly throw food into the cage of the trap, it must be set carefully in the middle of the backside of the trap. This will encourage the raccoon to fully walk into the cage, triggering the door to close and successfully trapping the raccoon. Additionally, you may want to wear gloves to mask your scent when you are placing and baiting the trap, the scent of humans may cause the raccoon to be more cautious which will reduce your chances of trapping them.
It is likely that you will not catch your raccoon on your first couple days of trapping. It can be a tedious process that could continue to go on for a couple of weeks. While you may want to switch bait immediately when you don’t catch something, you should probably wait for a couple of days. Switching baits too frequently can tip off the raccoon as there is too much change happening in a short amount of time. You should give a bait about 3-5 days before you switch it out. Too much change too quickly won't be helpful.
Raccoon Control: Is there a Raccoon Poison or Deterrent?
While there's no designated "raccoon poison", many people still want to try to poison a raccoon rather than going through the process of trapping it. Using common household toxins to saturate their bait may end up killing your pest, however you may not be completely happy with the results. Why not? If a raccoon takes the poisonous bait and goes into your attic to die, it is likely that the raccoon may find a secluded spot to pass away in. Often, this spot is difficult to find, and sometime impossible to reach. Meaning that as the raccoon decomposes, you are left with a terrible odor.
There are raccoon deterrents on the market that can work for you. These are best used for a mother and babies when they are trying to still get settled. Male raccoons are known to eat baby raccoons, so you can purchase synthetic male raccoon urine to give the mother the idea that a male is around the area. When the mother feels threatened, she will pick up her babies and move them to a new location, hopefully out of your attic. While this technique is not guaranteed, there are people who have had success with using this; however, trapping is still the most effective method in trapping raccoons.
There are repellents that are specifically designed for outdoor use, in case your raccoon is still just causing damage to your property. While these are not guaranteed methods, they have been helpful in deterring the raccoons at the very least. These are typically applications that you can spray on your garbage cans or around your property line. They must be constantly re-applied and are best used in combination with other methods – such as flood lights or noise machines.
Raccoon Poop in the Pool: Why do Raccoons Poop in Pools?
While you may enjoy using your pool during the summer, you may have noticed that so do raccoons! Raccoons will often go for swims in any kind of water, and a swimming pool is excellent for that. You will often see raccoons washing their small paws, or perhaps different foods, in the bodies of water; it is super cute, until it’s in your own backyard in your pool.
While you may thing that sharing your pool with a raccoon isn’t all that bad, they are also known for pooping in pools. It is all fun and games until somebody poops at the swimming pool, after all. You could be asking yourself why? Why would a racoon poop in the pool? Commonly, this is because they are trying to hide their poop; and in natural bodies of water, the poop gets washed away for them. So they have associated water with making their poop go away.
Although it's disgusting, and undoubtedly more work for you than anything else, you can at least take solace in the fact that the raccoon isn't being spiteful. It is just doing what comes naturally. If you have been having an issue with a raccoon pooping in your pool, you will want to make sure that it is properly cleaned and the chemicals are balanced before you allow your family to go swimming again.