The adult raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a stocky mammal about 2 to 3 feet long and weighs 7 to 30 pounds. It is distinctively marked with a black “mask” over the eyes and is heavily furred with alternating light and dark rings around its tail. Raccoons are active year round but may take cover in dens during periods of severe winter weather.
BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR
Raccoons prefer wooded areas near water and natural habitats. They den in hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, or rock crevices. This nocturnal animal adapts extremely well to urban and suburban environments, where it often dens in backyards, beneath decks, or in accessible outbuildings. Attics, chimneys, and the spaces beneath houses are also used as dens, if access can be gained. Because they are active mainly at nighttime, raccoons are often present but may go undetected for some time.
Raccoons are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals. Plant foods include all kinds of fruits, berries, nuts, acorns, corn, and other types of grain. Animal foods include crayfish, clams, fish, frogs, snails, insects, turtles, rabbits, muskrats, and the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds, including waterfowl. In urban settings, in addition to feeding on backyard fruits, nuts, and vegetables, they scavenge from garbage cans and compost piles. Pet food left outside overnight ranks high as a food resource, and some people intentionally provide food for raccoons. Bird feeders provide another dependable food source for raccoons.
Young are generally born in April or May, but earlier and later litters are not uncommon. Litter size ranges from three to six young, averaging about four. Family groups usually remain together for the first year; the year-old young begin to assert their independence the following year when the new litter arrives. Because of the availability of food and den sites, urban and suburban raccoon populations can become very large
Common problems occur when raccoons look for nesting sites in buildings. Females in search of nesting sites may rip off shingles, fascia boards, or rooftop ventilators to get into the attic. Once inside the attic, insulation on walls may be torn up and displaced; and insulation on heating and air conditioning ducts may be ripped off and destroyed. Raccoons may begin using an area of the attic for a latrine, and the ceiling beneath may become stained with urine, accompanied by an objectionable odor. Ectoparasites may infest the attic and migrate to other parts of the house. Uncapped chimneys are often used as den sites, as are spaces beneath porches and decks. Doors covering crawl spaces are sometimes damaged in an effort to den beneath the house.
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a medium-sized mammal that is common throughout Indiana. Its black mask makes it easy to identify. Raccoons are found in both urban and rural areas and are a species that thrives around people.
Adults weigh 8-20 pounds, although weight can vary considerably based on food and habitat. Males are usually heavier than females.
They have a distinct black mask around their eyes.
Their bushy tail measures 8-16 inches long, with alternating rings of light and dark fur.
Their coat is a mixture of grizzled gray, brown and black, but there can be large variations in color even among littermates.
Raccoon ears are slightly rounded with white fur on the edges.
Although not fast, they can reach speeds up to 15 mph.
Raccoons are good climbers and climb down trees headfirst.
Raccoons are usually nocturnal and usually spend daylight hours at rest. Contrary to common belief, a raccoon active during the day is not necessarily sick. Sometimes to beat other animals to good food sources (like chips around a park picnic table), raccoons will be active during daylight.
Raccoons occur statewide. They are most numerous where a mix of woodlands, cropland and shallow water are found. Northeastern Indiana, with its glacial lakes, is where the raccoon population is the greatest. The farmland of central Indiana is also home to many raccoons. The heavily forested south-central hills and northwestern prairie regions are less attractive to raccoons, but they are still common in these areas.
Most mating occurs in January or February. The male assumes no part in raising young. Most raccoons are born in tree cavities. If tree dens are not readily available, a female may use abandoned barn lofts, rock outcroppings, ground burrows or even attics and chimneys as dens.
Raccoons are opportunists, eating both plants and animals. Some common food sources are:
Turtle and bird eggs
Fruits, vegetables and crops like corn
Beechnuts and acorns
Raccoons have very sensitive paws, making their sense of touch one of their most important for finding food. If water is nearby, the raccoon will appear to “wash” its food; however, the animal is actually kneading and tearing at the food, feeling for matter that shouldn’t be eaten. Wetting its paws enhances the raccoon’s touch. If water is not nearby, the raccoon will forego this ritual. Sometimes raccoons will appear to be “washing” food when really they are hunting for crayfish or mussels along the shores of creeks and ponds by feel.
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is common throughout Missouri, including urban and suburban areas. Their curious nature and habit of taking refuge in chimneys and attics, as well as their constant search of food, can lead to conflicts with property owners.
The Wildlife Code classifies the raccoon as a furbearer and game mammal that may be taken during prescribed hunting and trapping seasons. See current regulations for details. The Code also specifies that you may shoot or trap damage-causing raccoons out-of-season without a permit
Raccoons frequently enter buildings, attics, and chimneys. Female raccoons may breach attic screens or roof vents to gain entry to establish dens to bear young. Limit access to rooftops by removing overhanging branches. Prevent climbing on outbuildings by wrapping and nailing sheets of slick metal at least 3 feet square around corners. Protect poultry houses by securing doors and covering windows with wire mesh. Exclude from chimneys by securely fastening a commercial cap of sheet metal and heavy screen over the top of the chimney. Young may be present April through August, so before evicting adults to make repairs, make sure no young are present.
Fumigants and repellents
These are not recommended because none are known to be effective. In particular, mothballs are not effective. The naphthalene they contain is toxic, and the vapor is harmful to humans.
Cage-type traps should be sturdy and at least 10 by 12 by 32 inches in size. Place on shaded rooftops, in attics, or in areas of known activity. Bait with cat food or sardines. Baiting with sweets such as bread with jelly or marshmallows is also effective and avoids capturing neighborhood cats. Young may be present April to August, so before trapping adults and making repairs, make sure no young are present
REASONS FOR RACCOON REMOVAL
Raccoon removal is necessary before they wreak havoc to your property or home. Raccoons make the home in places such as the attic, basement, and other less commonly used areas where they can shelter from the cold winter weather.
A pregnant raccoon looking for a safe haven will find the attic and other such secluded spaces ideal to make a nest. The unwelcome visitor to the attic will bring along a trail of wanton destruction to wiring and the roof. Creation of holes in and around the roof will make the homeless energy efficient. Raccoons may choose to nest in your chimney and this will also bring its fair share of problems.
As earlier mentioned, do not attempt to removal raccoons on your own since they can easily turn protective and rabid especially if it is a mother with young ones. A bite from a raccoon could prove to be dangerous especially if they are carrying vermin and disease. Equally, you may end up getting rid of the mother leaving behind a litter of young ones which amounts an unsuccessful attempt at raccoon removal.
Professional raccoon removal services are better placed to completely get rid of the raccoon menace. The professionals will carry out a safe and successful raccoon removal since there are no repellents against raccoons. The experienced raccoon removal experts will trap the animals and take them away to animal protection services.
As is now evident, carpenters or other handymen are not well equipped to handle raccoon removal. A common inclination for homeowners has been to call for a carpenter since it is the attic that houses raccoons. The need for a carpenter comes after professional raccoon removal experts have trapped the animals. The carpenter will fix the damage caused in the attic by the removed raccoon.
WHAT DO RACCOONS LOOK LIKE?
Adult raccoons weigh an average of 15 pounds and are most recognized by the black “mask” on their face. They have reddish-brown to gray fur on their bodies and alternating rings on their tails.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF RACCOONS?
Raccoons are mainly active at night. Their diet often consists of fruit, nuts, garden vegetables, berries, small animals and insects. They will also eat pet food and garbage. Raccoons often invade homes in order to find safe, warm shelter in which to breed. Common places to find raccoon dens include attics, crawl spaces and under decks as well as inside walls and chimneys. Raccoons begin reproducing during the winter months and give birth in the spring.
WHAT DAMAGE DO RACCOONS CAUSE?
Raccoons will invade homes in order to find warm shelter in the colder months. Raccoons that enter your home could cause damage to insulation for nesting. They could also damage electrical wires and ventilation throughout your home. This could lead to fires.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT RACCOONS?
Ways to prevent raccoons from entering your home include:
Installing a chimney cap to remove an entry point.
Trimming branches that hang over the roof.
Repairing any holes in the roof or elsewhere on the exterior that would allow a raccoon to squeeze in.
Do not leave pet food outside overnight.
Do not let outdoor trash cans overflow and make sure to secure the lids (raccoons have nimble fingers so make sure they cannot access it).
If you see a raccoon enter your home, do not seal it or they will be trapped inside.
HOW DO I GET RID OF RACCOONS?
If you discover a raccoon in the attic or even a litter of babies without their mother, do not touch these animals. It is also not safe to touch items contaminated by raccoon urine and feces. Contamination can cause a type of roundworm known as Baylisascaris.