Raccoons are a common nuisance animal across most of North America, and they're one of the wildlife problems we're most frequently called out to resolve.
According to reports, the largest raccoon ever weighed a whopping 70 pounds and stood more than 55 inches tall — but thankfully, very few raccoons actually get to that size. The average adult raccoon weighs approximately 7 to 20 pounds, with males larger than their female counterparts. They tend to stand no more than 12 inches tall when on all-fours, and around two-to-three times that when standing on the powerful back legs. Generally, they move around on all-fours, using an upright standing stance for looking around, eating, grooming, etc.
Raccoons are a combination of grey hues tinged with brown and darker, black flecks. They have very familiar facial markings and colorings: light, with a dark eye-mask and nose, and their noses [snouts] are quite long and pointed.
Raccoons can live for 10, 15, even 20 years or more with the right conditions. Sadly, many wild raccoons rarely live longer than two to three years because of disease, conflicts with humans or other animals, vehicle collisions, lack of food or shelter, exposure, and other factors. It has been estimated by experts that almost half of all raccoons die before they reach their first birthday.
Raccoon babies [kits] are born in mid-to-late spring: April through to June. Mating season is in the early part of spring: February through to April, and females are pregnant for approximately 8 weeks. Raccoons found in/on residential properties in the spring, summer and early part of fall are often females with kits and will need to be removed with care and caution.
Raccoons live in dens, which are protected hollows or similar closed-in spaces often found in tree hollows, under tree logs or rock piles, and underneath piles of brush. In residential back gardens, dens are commonly found in crawl spaces, attics, chimneys, underneath porches or decking, basements, and in protected spots around the back yard.
Den sites can be quite eclectic in nature, and raccoons are very well known for stealing the burrows or dens of other animals, or moving into abandoned sites.
Raccoons are a little bit like rodents in the fact they will eat EVERYTHING. Nothing is out-of-bounds if they're hungry. They're omnivorous, opportunistic scavengers, and are quite lazy; they would much rather find food than go out of their way to look for it or chase it down.
Raccoons, though cute, cause utter devastation when they encroach on human habitats. The nuisance animal has strong limbs which, when combined with sharp and long claws and teeth, can literally tear strips from your home or other buildings. They commonly cause damage to the roofs of homes and businesses, and then more damage inside the attic/chimney/building itself.
Raccoons are also dangerous in terms of disease. They are one of the most prolific carriers and transmitters of the rabies virus in North America, and in some states, they are in the number one nuisance animal likely to have the disease.
Raccoon droppings, also known as scat, is also known to spread multiple potentially dangerous diseases to humans, pets, and other wildlife.
The best approach to prevent raccoons becoming a problem on your property is to eradicate all sources of food. First, the animal finds the food; then, it moves in and finds a place to call its den. That's how the process almost always works, so by removing that first step, you are reducing the chances of the second step happening.
As well as removing or protecting all sources of food (as best as you can), it is also recommended that you ensure the building is completely sealed, all potential den sites are sealed up or closed off, biological hazards are cleaned away and sanitized, and other barriers or obstacles are installed. This can include a fence, underground panels on existing fences, adding bafflers to bird feeders, cage-like mesh wire structures to protect young trees and plant areas, and trimming back tree branches to stop animals from being able to access the roof.
The professionals have a number of options when it comes to the safe and humane removal of raccoons, including exclusion, physical removal, and trapping.
Exclusion approaches (using one-way doors or devices) can work in some cases, but not when an adult female has raccoon kits still dependent on her.
Physical removal of the kids before using them as bait to trap the mother, for complete family removal, is another option that experience removal technicians may use.
Live cage trapping is a great resource for trapping nuisance wildlife, allowing the animals to then be released in a safe and responsible location, passed over to rehabilitators for potential future release back into the wild, or humane euthanasia.
The right approach to raccoon control and removal will often depend on the laws and restrictions regarding that animal, in that state or jurisdiction. We will personally assess the nuisance wildlife problem in its entirety before coming up with a removal and control treatment plan, to ensure that all factors of the problem are then taken into account.
1 - There are actually 6 different species of raccoon found in both South and North America. You will commonly come across the ‘common raccoon', also known as Procyon lotor.
2 - The typical masked raccoon look has an actual purpose: the dar coloring around the eyes helps to reduce the amount of glare that artificial and natural light would create, absorbing it instead.
3 - A raccoon was once a White House pet! During the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, a raccoon called Rebecca joined a number of other White House pets, including a wallaby, a goose, a couple of lion cubs, and a bobcat.
To learn more about raccoons, see: