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Raccoons are intriguing and dexterous creatures known for their mischievousness. Although they are wild animals, they have adapted to living in urban environments, even intruding into homes. As great climbers, they sometimes build their nests in attic spaces, even raising their litters of babies there. With their agility and strength, they destroy anything that lies in their path. From breaking into garbage cans, ripping holes through denning areas, and even killing smaller pets, raccoons can be serious nuisances. They carry canine distemper and rabies, which is harmful to unvaccinated dogs and humans if transmitted. Their feces contain a special breed of roundworm eggs that is pernicious to
humans.

With their egregious credentials, it’s little wonder why they are despised. But they couldn’t care less! They are unyielding and will continue to invade your property. However, critical actions must be taken to consistently keep them away from your home. In this article, we’ll look at some common attractions for raccoons and how to handle a raccoon infestation.

What Attracts Raccoons?

Like most animals, raccoons are attracted to food and shelter. However, due to their high intelligence, curiosity, and adaptation to the urban environment, they draw no line in their quest to seek these necessities.

1) Food

Human settlements are usually filled with food that raccoons crave. Although they are mainly nocturnal, it is not unusual for them to gather food during the daytime. Common sources of food include leftover foods in trash cans, pet food, fresh soda and grubs, goldfish ponds, bird feeders, dumpsters, chicken coops, and gardens with fruits like cherries and apples.

2) Shelter

In the wild, raccoons find solace in fallen tree trunks or abandoned burrows. However, they have learned to live in spaces like attics, crawl spaces, and basements. Female raccoons, especially, love to live in attics because it provides warmth and security from weather and vicious predators, due to their enclosed nature. Furthermore, attics are close to abundant food sources, making it the perfect spot to raise their kits.

Signs of a Raccoon Infestation

There are three basic steps in opossum removal. They are inspection, treatment and decontamination, and prevention.

1) Strong Scent of Feces or Urine

As a raccoon lives in a home, its feces and urine accumulate. With time, it begins to give off a strong
smell. When their den is located, avoid touching their feces, as it carries several diseases.

2) Structural Damage

Raccoons are highly destructive. With their nimble fingers, they will tear off insulation papers, rip off pipes, rip open ducts, and dislodge chimney caps. With their sharp teeth, they usually chew on wood and electrical wires. If you notice damage to different places in your home including shutters, vents, shingles or even scratches, this might be an indication of a raccoon infestation.

3) Strange noises

As raccoons are nocturnal, they are usually hyperactive at night. Raccoons produce a variety of sounds including purring, snarling, hissing, growling, chittering, screeching and whimpering. If you notice any of these strange sounds coming out of your walls, crawl spaces, or attic, it might be a raccoon.

Dealing with a Raccoon Infestation

Due to the menace caused by raccoons, it is important to exclude them from entering your property.
Once you’ve established that a raccoon is in your property, the necessary steps should be taken to
remove them and prevent reentry.

1) Remove Food and Water:

As we’ve stated, raccoons invade your home or yard in search of food. By removing food sources, you make your property less inviting. This can be achieved by:
  • Removing trash and securing garbage cans.
  • Cleaning up any leftover food, drinks, or pet food lying around in your yard.
  • Ensuring that all fallen berries, nuts, and fruits in your yard are properly disposed of.

2) Identify The Extent of Damage:

By investigating the extent of the damage caused, you get to know where the raccoon spends most of its time, enabling you to launch a targeted control method. Also, you can pinpoint vulnerable points that need to be repaired to prevent reentry. Some usual places with high raccoon activity include:
  • Attics
  •  Porches
  •  Gardens or fish ponds
  • Trash can areas

3) Choose the Right Control Method

It is important to note that raccoons are classified as furbearers in many states. This means that you
need a license or permit to trap or hunt them. Furthermore, it is illegal to kill them indiscriminately,
even when they cause you havoc. Therefore, it is advisable to employ a licensed professional to aid
with the removal. Some of the common methods of removal include:

Live Traps
Live traps can be used to manually remove raccoons from your home. All you have to do is bait your
trap accordingly. You must also check the trap frequently to ensure that the raccoon does not stay for
too long in the cage before disposal, as this is also illegal in some states.

Raccoon Repellents
Raccoon repellents can be applied to areas frequented by raccoons on your property, like trash cans.
Raccoons are persistent so it may take several weeks before they associate a repellent with an area
and learn to stay clear of it. Some common repellents include odor repellents like hot pepper
repellent. Raccoons have a good sense of smell, and they detest the smell of pepper.

Usually, the best strategy to apply depends on a variety of factors like the location of the raccoon or if
it has little cubs. For instance, if an adult with a litter of baby raccoons is living in your attic, care must
be taken to first remove the babies while cautious of an imminent attack from the mother.
Thereafter, the live babies are used as bait to lure the mother into a trap cage. This process is quite
difficult and must be executed perfectly. This is why it is best to involve the service of a licensed
professional for raccoon removal.

4) Decontamination:

After successful removal, it is important to remove their droppings, hair, urine, nesting materials and so on, as they can attract insects like cockroaches. Also, the scent can attract new raccoons that might attempt to break in. Moreover, special care must be taken while removing their feces as they can cause diseases like Leptospirosis and Salmonella. Their feces also contain roundworm eggs that can infect people.

5) Repairs

Finally, all damages caused by raccoons have to be repaired. This involves fixing cut electrical wires,
damaged pipes and insulation. Furthermore, potential reentry points should be reinforced to make
sure that raccoon problems do not arise in the future.

Damage That Raccoons Do to Your Home or Building

Raccoons are a serious nuisance if they make it into your home, as their sheer size makes them clumsy and destructive. However, this depends on the individual raccoon: some raccoons stick mostly to the edges of any crawlspace like an attic, many do not touch the insulation, and most use one or two spaces to deposit their bodily waste. Regardless, raccoons make bad tenants more often than they make good ones.

Raccoons weigh a lot: anywhere between 20-30 lbs. (9-14 kg), which means that in attics, raccoons walking on insulation compress it, making it less effective. When it comes to a mother raccoon with kits (the most common scenario involving raccoons in an attic) the mother will often flatten a large area for their young, at times even choosing to shred the insulation. Insulation that is shredded or flattened does not insulate as well, leading to heat leaking through your roof, potentially impacting your heating bill.

During their stay in the attic, raccoons like to explore what lays inside: they will tear apart vents out of curiosity, sometimes electrocuting themselves in the process and leaving a foul odor; sometimes, they will attack pipe insulation, which can lead to inefficient water heating; and very often, they will accidentally damage wires while trying to claw through your wall, posing a fire risk to you as well as a risk of death to themselves. Raccoons tend to pose a greater fire risk than other pests due to their tendency to tear everything apart, turning your attic into a giant kindling pile ready to blow at the flick of a switch. Additionally, raccoons tend to pose a risk of structural failure in your attic by gnawing on the wood beams supporting the roof, making it essential that you inspect your attic beams for signs of raccoon damage.

However, one of the worst things a raccoon will do is leave their waste everywhere: raccoon poop carries a mix of potentially lethal diseases, like leptospirosis, raccoon roundworm, canine distemper, and giardia, among others. These diseases, especially roundworm, can become airborne if disturbed, making it essential to wear safety equipment when disinfecting an attic that was visited by raccoons. Ideally, a raccoon clean-up operation should be left to professionals. We at A+ Animal Solutions both possess the equipment and the expertise to decontaminate an attic and to remove any scents which may attract raccoons in the future.