06.14.10

Raccoons

Posted in Raccoons at 11:03 am by Administrator

Baby raccoons in a tree

Don't let the cute babies fool you

Almost everyone in the United States has seen or encountered the masked bandit. The raccoon has adapted to urban living almost as well as their human neighbors and probably coined the term dumpster diving. As an omnivorous creature they will eat almost anything from the leftover lasagna you threw away, to the apple pie you left on the windowsill. Although raccoons look adorable especially when the mother has a full line of the little mischievous youngster trailing her, one must remember it is all an illusion. Raccoons have large teeth versatile paws and the unique ability to get into anything, anywhere at any time. You should never corner, taunt or tease a wild animal as the end result is usually detrimental to you or the animal. With that said, let’s examine a few ways to deal with this critter that is currently making your life a living nightmare.
Important Raccoon Facts:

  • Raccoons breed between January and March and have a 63 day gestation period. Typically that means 2 to 6 babies will be born between March and June.
  • Raccoons are omnivorous, they will eat almost anything.
  • An adult raccoon can weigh between 12 and 35 pounds and measure from 24 to 46 inches in length.
  • Raccoons can be identified by their bushy ringed tails and their black masks.
  • They are generally nocturnal and seldom seen in the day. If you see a raccoon during daylight, beware as it is probably sick or injured and contact with the animal potentially put you in a very hazardous situation.
  • Raccoons can carry several diseases; some might be transmittable to humans. In addition to diseases many raccoons are hosts to ticks, lice and fleas.

Prevention: It is always best to be proactive and prevent a possible problem, before it rears its ugly head and bites you in the bottom. With that in mind, let’s examine some simple things that we can do to make our homes and property less inviting to that problematic creature.

  • Ensure your trashcan has an animal proof lid and never overfill it so the lid will not close properly or leave plastic bags stacked beside it.
  • Cut back any tree limbs that overhang your roof.
  • Place an animal proof screen around your chimney.
  • Ensure any loose soffits are secured and any holes leading into your home are fixed.
  • If you’re feeding the birds, you’re probably feeding the raccoons as well and should ensure that the feeder is placed at an adequate height and has a barrier to prevent animals from climbing up the shaft.
  • Secure your doggie-door and if you’re feeding animals outside, stop! If you continue to feed the stray cat, then you are inviting every wild animal in the neighborhood over for the buffet.
  • If you have a trellis against your home, remember it is like a latter to a raccoon and if it is high enough they will be able to gain access to your roof.
  • If you have vines growing up the sides of your home, then you probably have a raccoon autobahn to your roof.
  • Consider an electric fence, situated about 2 ½ inches off the ground with the wires spaced about 3 ½ inches apart to protect your garden.

Removal: The Removal of an unwanted raccoon can be a daunting task.

  • Raccoon in the attic, crawl space or cellar:
    • The critter successfully found a way into your home and now you need to determine approximately how many might have infiltrated your defenses. First we need to know if it is March, April, May or June as this is typically when the babies are born. If it is one of those months, then you probably have a Momma and 2 to 6 babies in the nursery she built. You really only have a few options that can be exercised at this point.
  • You should always use a professional to remove wildlife. The potential cost to you, should anyone get injured far surpasses the cost of having a wildlife removal expert handle the problem.
  • Attempt to convince Momma to voluntarily move her young to a better location.
    • The use of chemical deterrents is typically ineffective and succeeds only in smelling up your home. These include things like mothballs, ammonia soaked rags and predator urine.
    • Devices, which use an ultrasonic sound typically, do not work either.
    • Taking advantage of the raccoon’s habits and tendencies can be effective and pose less risk to the homeowner than confronting the animal. Momma selected the location of her nursery, because it provided the protection necessary to birth and raises her young. Basically, what you are going to do is take away all the traits that Momma liked about her new nursery. Start by adding a garage style light and let the sun shine in. Next add an Am-Fm radio and turn the music up all day. If that does not convince Momma to move out that night, then it’s party time. Send up a nice warming gift of about ½ dozen balloons and slip one end of a garden hose as close to Momma as you can get, leaving the other end of the hose where you can use it like a direct line to Momma. About every 2 hours, slide a broom handle with a pin attached to the end in and pop a balloon. Each time a member of your family walks past the hose, have them scream and yell into it. Momma more than likely will find her new nursery unsuitable and start moving her babies. Make sure all the babies are gone, before fixing the entrance holes.
    • Trap Momma and locate the young. This is much easier said than done as the babies can be hidden anywhere and if Momma told them to shut-up, you won’t hear a peep. The last thing you want to do is trap Momma and not find the young as they will most likely starve to death and stink up the area. You must also check your State laws as trapping, even with a live trap may be illegal or require a special license or permit. Provided it is legal to trap a raccoon in your city, you will need to get a live trap sturdy enough to do the job. I recommend the Havahart Raccoon trap number: 1079. This trap is constructed of 14 gauge wire and has a spring loaded door. The trap itself measures 10”x12”x32” and is definitely durable enough to hold the most rambunctious of raccoons. Next you want to place the trap where you are most apt to catch Momma Raccoon and not the local Skunk or the neighbor’s cat. Raccoons will eat almost anything making your job of baiting the trap a piece of cake. Just pull out some leftovers from your refrigerator and place it as directed in the trap instructions. Once you have captured Momma, take her and the babies several miles away to your local forest preserve and release them. Ensure you seal up all entrance ways to prevent additional occurrences. I would recommend having a professional come in and decontaminate your attic.
    • If there are no babies involved and you are positive that the critter(s) are adults, then the removal process is simpler. Wait, until dusk or early evening and check to make sure they have left to forage for food. Seal all entrance ways and disable the method they were using to gain access.
  • Raccoon under your shed or porch:
    • First try and determine exactly what is living under the shed. Check your weather forecast and make sure you are going to have a few days of clear weather. Sprinkle a layer of talcum powder in the opening and wait. Visually check the hole each morning and look for foot prints or scat, once you find either, you can easily go online and find the culprit. If there is a possibility of babies, wait, until Momma starts bringing them out on her nightly trips and then lock the door to her den. I recommend putting some grass clippings in the hole and then using either rebar or wire mesh to seal off the hole. Visually check the hole and see if the grass has been spread down into the hole, this typically indicates something trying to get out versus trying to get in. If the grass has not been tampered with for a few days or is spread toward the outside of the hole, you have successfully evicted your guest. Now you can fill in the hole or make a permanent fix.
  • Raccoon physically in your home:
    • You should seriously consider hiring a wildlife removal expert. A cornered animal is not a friendly animal and you could find yourself going head to head with one unhappy critter. Not only that, but in your attempts to convince your guest to leave, you could end up with a lot of broken heirlooms.
    • Open up one side of your home, preferably the side with the most openings. Try and close off any doors leading to bedrooms, bathrooms, utility rooms or closets. It is very important to not block the exit route! Once you have sealed off all other avenues, you will want to enter the home from the non opened side and gently coax the raccoon to leave on its own accord. A large garage broom works great and is easy enough to control as you guide the interloper out of your home. If the animal becomes aggressive, back off and slow down your approach.

A cute little baby all grown up, notice the teeth?

Raccoon with very large teeth

Notice the large canine teeth?

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