Raccoons

Raccoons, the largest species of the procyonid family, are a medium sized mammal native to North America. The length of a raccoon varies from 16 to 28 inches, and their weight can stretch from 8 to 20 pounds. The most common physical characteristics of raccoons are its black facial mask, and their extremely dexterous front paws. In addition, the common raccoon can be recognized by its grayish brown fur coat, and its black-ringed tail.

 

Environment

Raccoons are most commonly found in wooded areas of the eastern United States, but due to their adaptability have extended their range to mountainous, and coastal areas. Homeowners commonly encounter them as pests in urban areas where they scavenge for food.

Raccoons rely on vertical structures in order to avoid predators and other threats, typically preferring hollowed out trees as dens. Their choice of habitat is most often determined by ready access to food and water. The diet of a raccoon consists of plants, insects, and other small animals. Breeding season for raccoons takes place from February through April with a litter consisting of 2-5 young. These young raccoons depend on their mothers for approximately nine months when they then leave to establish their own homes. The average lifespan of a raccoon is approximately 2 ½ years.

 

Behavior

Raccoons are best known for their high level of intelligence. In studies, raccoons have shown the ability to open complex locks, turn doorknobs, and open latches. Further, raccoons retain the solution to these tasks for up to three years. Aside from their intelligence, one of the most common habits of raccoons is the “washing” of their food. In actuality, raccoons are searching for food beneath the surface of the water rather than washing a piece of food that they’ve already found.

In general, raccoons are nocturnal. Most of their scavenging for food takes place at night while they sleep during the day. Once thought to be solitary creatures, it now appears that raccoons related and unrelated spend at least some of their time in groups.

The most common interaction with humans are when raccoons are caught by hunters, and when they are hit by cars. Due to their adaptability, raccoons are a growing concern of homeowners and businesses. Their high level of intelligence makes them difficult to capture and remove.

 

Damage caused by Raccoons

Most raccoon interactions with humans takes place when there is a ready food source. Uncovered trash cans, bags of waste, and vegetable/herb gardens all bring raccoons into contact with people. Raccoons enter a home to seek shelter from harsh weather, avoid predators, or to find a nesting site. Once inside, raccoons can wreak havoc on your home – tearing apart ductwork, trampling down and disturbing insulation, tearing holes in walls or roofs, chewing on electrical wires, and leaving behind large amounts of urine and fecal matter. Additional areas that can be damaged by raccoons include roofing tiles, soffits and facia boards, and gutter systems.

In addition to the damage they can cause, raccoons are also associated with outbreaks of canine distemper and rabies. Daytime sightings of raccoons aren’t necessarily an indication that a raccoon is diseased, but people should be wary of interactions with raccoons. People should be careful to secure garbage, and remove unnatural food sources like dog and cat food.

 

Terminix Raccoon Control and Removal

The most important step to getting rid of raccoons in a structure is to do a thorough inspection.   Raccoons commonly inhabit crawlspaces, attics, and sheds, but can also be found in interior walls and chimneys of homes. A proper inspection will reveal entry points as well as any areas that have been damaged by raccoons including ductwork, insulation, and roofing elements.

At Terminix we have a multi-tiered approach:

  • Locate raccoon entry and exit points, and place traps in a manner where the raccoon will be caught without causing more damage to your home

  • After the removal of a raccoon, permanently seal off all entry points to prevent against future re-entry

  • Work with homewowners to remove conditions that could be conducive for raccoons – unsecured trash, unnatural food sources, unobstructed gardens, etc.

  • Disinfect and clean all areas of the structure contaminated by raccoons, including the removal and replacement of insulation

  • Perform routine inspections and maintenance on an annual basis to ensure no future problems

 

Call Terminix today at 1-800-BUGS-911 to schedule a free raccoon inspection.