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Animal Hazards : Raccoons

Raccoons are easily identified by their narrow mask-like faces with white patches above their eyes, and their bushy tails with alternating black and yellowish rings. They are about one meter long including the tail, and weigh from 7-22 kg. When conditions are favorable, they can live up to 10 or 13 years. They will produce one litter per year with an average of four or five kits.

  • Raccoons are opportunistic feeders and being truly omnivorous, will eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, insects, eggs, small birds and mammals. They are usually nocturnal although may occasionally be active in the daytime.
  • In cold climates they will hibernate for a good portion of the winter. They are fairly sociable and generally not aggressive, unless threatened, protecting their young or during mating season. They are territorial with a range of up to five kilometers. Raccoons are strong and agile and therefore, very good climbers. Their long and slender digits make their feet look more like hands and provide them with remarkable dexterity.
  • Raccoons' ability to adapt to different habitats, combined with intelligence and curiosity, have allowed them to become proficient city dwellers. This often brings them into conflict with homeowners as the animals seek food and shelter.
  • Raccoons are not usually aggressive, however, if cornered, frightened, or caring for young, they may become very aggressive. A mother raccoon will protect her young at all cost and will use their claws and teeth to repel any intruder.
  • Since raccoons are nocturnal, homeowners have tried to exclude them at night, repairing the damage and shutting out the raccoon or raccoons, only to find a hole in the roof the next morning where the raccoon or raccoons regained entrance into the attic. It is best left to a wildlife control professional to remove the raccoon or raccoons, as trying it yourself will only cause more damage or a horrible situation where baby raccoons are left inside. It takes a wildlife control professional to remove the mother raccoon and babies.
  • Life cycles in raccoons vary slightly, reflecting factors such as age, health, weather conditions, habitat, food supply and population density. A basic understanding of their yearly activities will help in formulating humane, effective prevention plans and dealing with existing problems.

Seasonal Characteristics:

  • Winter: As the weather gets colder, raccoons will seek out shelter to escape winter weather. During the winter months, juveniles born the previous year will leave the maternal den site and seek out their own dens. Raccoons mate during mid to late winter, usually between January and March, with a gestation period of approximately 63 days.

    Adverse weather conditions, such as snow, severe cold, or a lack of food may cause raccoons to stay in their dens for three weeks or more. Homeowners should be aware of this behavior when testing for the presence of raccoons and planning raccoon-proofing strategies. It is extremely important that all animals be locked out of the area, not in it. Animals locked in may cause damage to the home and may suffer a lingering death which is inhumane and will be very offensive for a long time and costly to have removed.

  • Spring: Between the months of March and June, homeowners should not attempt on their own to remove wildlife other than by trying the radio and lighting techniques explained in the next section. If a mother is locked out with the kits inside, she will do considerable damage trying to get to her kits. If the mother is trapped and taken away, the dependent kits will be left to starve and die in the den. Only when the mother and her kits have been seen coming outside can a homeowner begin to encourage them to leave and repair the entrance area.

    Kits are born during this time and the mother will stay with them for up to three days without going outside. Their eyes remain closed until the age of three weeks and they will remain solely in the den site for approximately two months. During this time the mother will go outside on her own to find food. The homeowner may hear chattering noises. As the kits grow and develop, they may become noisier and they may be heard moving about.

    After about 2 ½ months, they will slowly start to accompany the mother on her nightly excursions. The young will stay with their mother for nine months, learning necessary survival skills from her. Observe the kits coming out for a week or two and getting to the ground before starting any removal attempts. It may take the runt of the litter several days longer than its siblings to gain the strength to leave the den with the rest of the family. At this time of year, raccoons may begin foraging in lawns looking for insect larvae.

  • Summer: The kits will start to regularly accompany their mother on nightly foraging excursions. The importance of making sure that all the animals are out of the den cannot be overemphasized.

    During hot summer months when the temperature rises above 25 C, some attics and roofs will become too hot for comfort. Animals may then seek out cooler areas under decks, sheds, patios and other sheltered areas.

  • Fall: As the weather gets colder, raccoons will prepare for winter by seeking shelter and consuming extra food to store fat for the winter. They may continue to dig up lawns looking for insect larvae. Discourage this activity by using the methods described in the section on gardens and lawns.

    During this season, from September to the beginning of November, raccoons can occasionally be encouraged to leave roofs, attics and chimneys using the noise and lighting method described under Problem Solving.

::Health Risks

  • Raccoons carry several diseases which can be a health hazard to humans and domestic pets. Rabies is the most easily identified disease in raccoons. Rabid raccoons have been identified in the south.
  • Another disease that raccoons carry is distemper. The type that they carry is contagious to canines and felines. Distemper is usually fatal to the raccoon. The human danger is that these raccoons become very docile and can be found "sleeping" on decks or in plain view in backyards.
  • Curious children may approach the raccoons and think it is tame. The result may be a nasty bite.
  • CDC of Atlanta issued a report stating that "Raccoon feces can cause fatal brain infections". Children may put themselves at risk of a severe fatal infection by ingesting soil or other materials containing raccoon feces."
  • You should never approach a raccoon or raccoons that appear friendly, they may very well have rabies or distemper. If you notice a raccoon or raccoons during daylight hours or walking around in a stupor, you should contact a wildlife control professional.

::Other Risks

  • Raccoons can gain access into your attic by damaging facia boards or the roof. Once inside your attic the raccoons mate and use your attic as a denning site. The raccoon will care for her young in the attic or even down in a wall space. She will often move the kits several times in order to protect them. Raccoons also use chimneys as denning sites, caring for their young just above the damper.

::Removal & Treatment

  • Animals B' Gone, Inc. has removed 100's of raccoons from homes in Georgia. We safely and humanely remove female raccoons and babies from attics and chimneys. We can remove a mother ‘coon and her babies from most fireplace chimney's and have a chimney cap installed in under 90 minutes. Raccoons are usually removed alive but in some cases lethal means maybe needed.
  • We use American Veterinarian Medical Association approved methods of euthanasia. If this outcome is unacceptable to you the ODNR regulation may provide for us to release the animal on your property.
  • Our technicians will identify the primary point of entry into your home. They will then check the entire home/building and make the needed recommendations to prevent future animal intrusions. You will receive a written estimate start date and completion time. All work comes with a lifetime Warranty. This Warranty covers animal re-entry at all excluded points and re-repairs.
  • We are also trained to inspect, clean, sanitize and deodorize your fireplace or furnace flue. We will carry quality single and multi flue chimney caps in galvanized (6year warranty), stainless steel or copper (life-time warranty).
  • We are also can spray for ecto-parasites ( fleas, flies, maggots, lice, etc.,) that the raccoons/babies/feces may harbor and deposited in your homes attic or fireplace. Once the raccoons are removed and the point of entry closed and guaranteed, we clean and disinfect the nesting and toilet area(s) and we can apply the correct pesticides as Affordable Animal & Pest Removal Services is a licensed pest control company.


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