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Raccoon Removal

Raccoons are one of the cleverest creatures in the wild. They are extremely adaptable, smart and curious. Because they have hand like paws in the front, raccoons can unzip, open, pry, break apart, unlock and get into pretty much anything they put their little minds to. They can overcome almost any obstacle, of raccoon size, that they come across and if they don’t know how, they will figure out a way. This is because after decades and decades of living amongst humans, especially in urban areas, raccoons have now adapted to our ways of living and have evolved into smarter animals. It all has to do with survival of the fittest. In order to eat and find safe shelter, raccoons have had to get creative when it comes to living around people. They’ve learned how to break open our trash cans, rip open bags and boxes, tear into the eaves of our homes in order to get into attics, they can open cabinets and even turn door handles and open sliding glass doors. One might say that their evolving into little fury humans! And don’t tell your pets but raccoons are actually said to be smarter than both dogs and cats. Truth of the matter is, is that raccoons are all around us and may eventually find their way into our homes. But no matter how cute or smart they may be, they are still wild animals and must be handled by professionals when it comes to removing them from your home. Please read below to learn more information on raccoons, and how to deal with one if they decide to make a home out of your attic or garage.

Living Habits:

Raccoons are mammals that are part of the Procyonidae family and they are actually cousins to the bear. Raccoons can weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds and grow up to lengths of two to three feet long…That’s bigger than a normal house cat! However, although they are cute, furry and interesting to watch, raccoons can do major damage to your home if and when they decide to move in. Not to mention, they can be a carrier of Rabies, fleas and ticks. (see below for diseases)

Raccoons generally take up residence in places that are secluded and safe, especially if they have “kits” or baby raccoons. Common living quarters for a raccoon include hollow tree trunks, attics, garages, crawl spaces under homes and even chimneys. However, living in an attic is prime real estate for a raccoon because it offers warmth, safety and they can even use the insulation for bedding!

A raccoon’s mating season is between January and June and most raccoon mothers often give birth in Spring. This is one reason that many homeowners first take notice of raccoon action between February and May. Mama raccoons are also very close to their young and raise them until they are about a year old. When a mother raccoon comes out at night in search for food it won’t be unusual to see her little ones, usually two to five of them, following close behind her. Once the raccoons are finished with their dinner, they will all climb right back up into the attic from which they came and repeat the process the next night.

Raccoons are nocturnal, and will go gallivanting in the evening hours in search for food. They’re not the most graceful or discrete creatures, so if a raccoon is living in your home, you’ll probably hear it thumping around at night and even sometimes during the day. You may even spot it as it climbs down the side of the house or a tree next to the house. Also, contrary to popular belief, raccoons are up and about during the daytime. So it’s not uncommon to hear them moving around the attic during the day. You may even see one outside in the daytime if it’s a mother in search of food for its young. However, there are some signs to look for if you think that a raccoon may be rabid. See Diseases for more information

Signs that a raccoon is in your home:

The first sign that a raccoon is in your home is the noise. Full grown raccoons are a pretty good size and their not the most graceful creatures so you more than likely will hear him or her thumbing around in your attic. Also, raccoons that live in attics are active during the day, so it’s not unusual to hear them moving around, making your house into a home and even, at times, playing. If it’s a mother raccoon, you may also hear her scratching as she proceeds to make a nest out of insulation, wall paper, and even by tearing apart the roof. If there’s more than one raccoon, you might hear them “talking” to each other in a series of hisses, whistles, screams, growls and snarls.

Another sign is actually seeing the animal. If you have a raccoon in your home, you will almost inevitably see it climbing in or out of your roof, up or down a tree or rummaging through your trash can. If it can find a way to get into your kitchen, you may even see it inside of your home, which could be quite shocking. Remember, raccoons have little hands and can open latches, cabinets and in some cases, have even learned how to open sliding doors. If you do spot a raccoon, it’s important to remember to NEVER try to catch it by yourself. Although they are cute animals, they are still wild. Call a professional if you think you may have one inside your home.

Another sign is actually seeing the animal. If you have a raccoon in your home, you will almost inevitably see it climbing in or out of your roof, up or down a tree or rummaging through your trash can. If it can find a way to get into your kitchen, you may even see it inside of your home, which could be quite shocking. Remember, raccoons have little hands and can open latches, cabinets and in some cases, have even learned how to open sliding doors. If you do spot a raccoon, it’s important to remember to NEVER try to catch it by yourself. Although they are cute animals, they are still wild. Call a professional if you think you may have one inside your home.

Another sign that an animal is in your attic is the smell. Raccoons will leave behind an abundance of droppings and urine, both of which smell terrible after being left in a hot attic. This odor can permeate through your home and we promise it will not be a pleasant smell to come home to.

Diseases:

Raccoons in the wild run the risk of carrying a variety of dangerous diseases such as:

Rabies: an acute infectious viral disease of the nervous system transmitted by the saliva of infected animals, esp dogs. It is characterized by excessive salivation, aversion to water, convulsions, and paralysis

Roundworm: any nematode (worm), especially Ascaris lumbricoides, that infects the intestine of humans and other mammals. Symptoms may include passing a worm in your feces, mild abdominal (tummy) pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (you may also notice blood in your stools).

Giardia Lamblia: a protozoan causing diarrhea associated with ingesting food or water contaminated by raccoon excrement.

Leptospirosis: infectious disease caused by the spirochete Leptospira interrogans (bacteria) and characterized by fever, muscle pain, and jaundice, and in severe cases involving the liver and kidney.

You should never handle or come close to wild raccoons. If you are ever scratched or bitten, immediately scrub your wounded area in warm soap, completely flushing out the wound. Follow up by calling your physician and your local health department.

If a raccoon is living in your attic, your attic will have to be professionally cleansed once the animal is removed. This will involve a trained technician going into the attic, excluding any holes that the animal has made, removing any droppings that were left behind and treating the area for lice, fleas and ticks. The technician will also wear proper protective clothing, gloves, and respiratory masks and will also use the proper products to treat the infected areas. Because raccoon droppings can contain roundworm and are light, they can also become airborne, which presents a problem for humans who can run the risk of breathing in the egg spores left in the droppings. These spores can cause disease and illness. Infection of humans can lead to larval parasite migration to the central nervous system.

Lice, Fleas and ticks may also become an issue. Wild raccoons like any other wild animal, usually carry these insects on them. An infestation is very likely in your home, which can also be dangerous for you and your pets. Some homeowners notice that their pets, which have never had flea and tick issues before, will suddenly become infected after a raccoon has moved in. It is always important to make sure that your pet is currant and up to date with its vaccinations and are checked for worms once a year to avoid diseases, especially from ticks, fleas and other diseases.

Never approach a raccoon that looks sick, confused, or that is moving awkwardly. Distemper is also an important raccoon disease, the early stages of which mimic rabies.

IMPORTANT!

You MUST call ANIMAL CONTROL if you think you have come across a sick or rabid animal.

SIGNS THAT AN ANIMAL MAY BE RABID:

  • Staggering walk or run
  • It’s oblivious to noise or nearby movement
  • Erratic wandering
  • Discharge from eyes or mouth
  • Wet and matted hair on face
  • Repeated high-pitch vocalization
  • Self-mutilation

CENTRAL FLORIDA ANIMAL CONTROL: 1-800-123-4567

NEVER try to catch or tame the animal yourself. Doing so can be extremely dangerous and hazardous to your health!

Eating Habits:

Raccoons are omnivorous, and will eat anything, whether its plant or animal based. In the wild they’ll eat eggs out of nests, live snakes, lizards, insects, anything they can get their little hands on. And speaking of their little hands, which are really paws that have 4 fingers on them (no opposable thumbs), having those small, handy dandy, invaluable tools, makes it easier for raccoons to pry open trash cans, rip open bags of food, or break into pretty much anything they can in search of tasty treats. They especially enjoy eating left over pet food that has been left out over night on a back porch or patio, which is why it’s ever so important to always pick up any cat or dog food at night time. Not only will you attract raccoons by leaving pet food down, but you’ll also attract opossums, rats, squirrels, roaches and a slew of other creatures would love to join in on the feast.

Raccoons are extremely clever creatures and are great at problem solving. Paired with their little hands, you will find Raccoons, like humans, are omnivorous. They will literally eat anything, whether it be plant based or animal based. They will even eat insects. They are excellent problem solvers and are quite adept at manipulating things with their paws and fingers which help make them good at adapting to changing environments. Opening latches, unlocked doors, and garbage cans are relatively easy tasks for raccoons. They also use their paws and fingers to inspect their food and remove any unwanted pieces before eating it. It is quite common for raccoons to douse their food in water too, but the reason they do that is debatable. Are they washing their food, softening their food, moistening their food to make it easier to swallow, softening their paws in order to better feel their food, or are they simply playing in water?

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Raccoons seem to be pretty clean animals and like to wash their food before eating it. You’ll often see them douse their food in water, if available, before putting it in their mouths. The reason for them doing this is unclear to scientists; it may be because they don’t like dirty food or maybe because they like soft food.
  • A raccoon can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Raccoons are very good swimmers and can stay in water for several hours.
  • They make a variety of vocalizations including hisses, whistles, screams, growls and snarls.
  • A series of studies in the mid-to-late-twentieth century show that a raccoon can remember solutions to tasks for up to 3 years! That’s longer than some humans can remember things! Like online passwords.
  • The English word “raccoon” is an adaptation of a native Powhatan word meaning “animal that scratches with its hands.”
  • The German word for raccoon is “Waschbär” which means “washing bear”, because they wash their food before eating it.
  • Baby raccoons are called “kits”
  • Toronto is the Raccoon capital of the world and boasts more raccoons per capita than anywhere in the globe.