Pest Profile: Raccoons
Children’s cartoons are full of friendly raccoons running around and causing mischief. Sadly, because human-created waste is an excellent source of food, wild raccoons have moved into urban environments, and their child-like trouble making has become a problem for homeowners. Living among humans for generations has encouraged wild raccoons to become bolder around people, which makes the whole situation even more tenuous.
Raccoons grow to be between 10 to 30 pounds, making them about the same size as a small to medium-sized dog. They are best known for their distinctive “bandit mask” facial markings and ringed tails. Raccoons can and will eat nearly anything, and they have been described as perfect omnivores. Raccoons breed in early spring and give birth to their kits in late spring to early summer. The kits need a safe nest away from predators for the first eight or so weeks of their lives, so their mothers seek out dens in hollowed out trees, rock crevices, and human-built structures. In captivity, raccoons can live to be 20 years old, but wild raccoons live much shorter lives, typically 2 to 3 years, due to disease, hunting, and traffic encounters.
Why They’re Pests
Raccoons are pests because pregnant females actively seek out the safest spot to rear their kits. Oftentimes, the safest spot they can find is in an attic or under a deck. Expectant mothers will often go to the extreme of ripping shingles off a roof to get into the safety of an attic. Once your unwelcome guest is inside, she’ll make herself at home, using a part of your attic as her bathroom and another to birth and raise her kits.
Raccoons also love to dig through garbage to find the delicious things people throw out. This can create a mess for homeowners to deal with, and it can also make an encounter with a raccoon more likely, which increases the danger for everyone.
Are They Dangerous?
Like all wild animals, raccoons can and will attack if they feel threatened or cornered. They have been known to attack people and pets alike when on the defensive. Because urban raccoons have become accustomed to being around people, they may seem deceptively comfortable in your presence until you make the wrong move and are suddenly considered a threat. Raccoons are not aggressive without cause, but you do not want to risk giving a raccoon a reason to feel like it has no choice but to fight you.
Do They Carry Diseases?
Raccoons carried over 1/3 of the recorded cases of rabies in 2006. In addition to carrying rabies, raccoons also carry raccoon roundworms, which can be transferred to humans and pets via contact with the infected raccoon’s feces. Raccoons also carry several other diseases, like distemper, which pets can catch.
With raccoons that are in your home or structure, there is always the chance of baby raccoons getting left behind. It is important to hire professional wildlife control experts to take care of any raccoon removal to ensure that every raccoon is removed from your property before the entryways are all patched up. Once they’ve removed the raccoon population from your attic or deck, professional wildlife removal experts will be able to offer you suggestions on how to make your home more raccoon-proof and how to repair the damages caused.