How Smart Are Raccoons?
With a knack for remembering tasks up to three years later, these smart, curious, and undeniably cute creatures will eat your ornamental fish, sully your pool, smash your bird feeders, lay waste to your garden, and eat right through your sheetrock.
Though raccoons are nocturnal, they sometimes forage during the day. They will engage in social behavior with other raccoons, but they are often solitary creatures. A group of raccoons is called a gaze.
What Do Raccoons Eat?
A raccoon’s diet consists of a mix of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plant material, but they’ve been known to feast on fish, bugs, fruit, Jell-O, and whatever you had for dinner the night before. Raccoons often “wash” their food before they eat it, but this is not to clean it; wetting their food allows them to gather more information while feeling it with their sensitive paws.
Where Do Raccoons Live?
While they typically thrive in sparsely wooded areas, in recent decades raccoons have adapted to urban life. Raccoons prefer to make their homes and have their litters in tree hollows, rock crevices, or abandoned animal dens, but they will also nest in attics and crawl spaces.
When Do Raccoons Have Babies?
Raccoons can give birth as early as March or as late as June, usually to a litter of three to seven baby raccoons called kits.
Are Raccoons Dangerous?
With bushy tails and a habit of washing their food in water, these critters are adorable, but they can also bite when threatened.
Raccoons also carry rabies, fleas, distemper, and parasites like roundworm, which can be contracted by humans attempting to clean up raccoon waste without wearing a mask. In addition to threats to your health, raccoons can severely damage crawl spaces and attics by chewing through walls, sheetrock, and support structures.
How Do You Deter Raccoons?
You can prevent a raccoon invasion through exclusion methods like using metal flashing and metal mesh to cover all possible entry routes into your home.
Before they reach your home, keep a lid on your trashcans and secure the lids with bungee cords or even cinder blocks. Double bagging meat products can also keep raccoons from smelling last night’s scraps. Don’t leave pet food outside, rake up fallen tree fruit, and bring in your bird feeders at night.
Installing electric fences around your yard, garden, pond, shrubs, and trees can also keep raccoons away. Clean up any yard debris such as brush, woodpiles, or old logs that could be used as raccoon cover or housing.
Motion-activated floodlights, radios tuned to talk radio stations, sprinklers, and ultrasonic noisemakers can also scare away these wily creatures. Strong smells like cayenne pepper, mothballs, human hair, bleach, ammonia, predator urine, and mint-scented trash bags can also act as deterrents.
Granular repellents provide effective protection around flowerbeds, attics, sheds, and barns, while liquid spray repellants are ideal around trashcans, plants, roofing, flowers, trees, and bird feeders.
Signs You Have a Raccoon Infestation
If you suspect you have a raccoon infestation, look out for raccoon footprints, which resemble human footprints, but are only four inches long. Scratch marks and droppings left at the base of trees or woodpiles are also strong signs of raccoon activity.
If these signs are undetected, look out for toppled garbage cans, trash-strewn across your yard, low growls, and shuffling noises as raccoons run along your roof or inside your walls.
How Do You Get a Raccoon Out of Your House?
Raccoons enjoy warm and dry places, so it’s no surprise that they might find your attic to be a particularly inviting place. Gaining entry through eaves, vents, and loose soffits, raccoons will wreck your screens and insulation, eat holes in the side of your home and lay waste to your attic.
If they have taken up residence in your attic, wait till dark and blast them with music and lights. Once all the raccoons and baby raccoons have been removed or flushed out, trim back any tree branches they might use to climb your roof, and patch up any holes bigger than four inches.
If adult raccoons are found in your attic, babies are likely to follow. If the mother is not present when you discover her nest, the babies can be used to lure her into a live bait trap. Female raccoons typically give birth in January or February in the South, and as late as April in the North.
How Do You Get Rid of a Raccoon Infestation?
The best way to get rid of a raccoon is to bait a live trap with fruit, marshmallows or starchy foods, and then take the raccoon to a hospitable place at least 10 miles away from your home. Since it is illegal in most states to trap and relocate raccoons without a license, it is best to leave this work up to the professionals. Contact the professionals at Stark Exterminators to safely remove raccoons from your property using the form below.