Danger of Raccoon Feces in Swimming Pools

Raccoons can be pests and can spread germs to humans. It is important to keep raccoons out of your pool and watch for raccoon feces (poop) in and around your pool. Raccoon feces can sometimes contain the eggs of a worm called Baylisascaris procyonis, which can infect humans, particularly children, and cause severe neurologic illness.

What is Baylisascaris? 
Baylisascaris is a roundworm parasite that commonly infects raccoons. Raccoons infected with Baylisascaris can be found in all parts of the United States. When people are exposed to Baylisascaris eggs they can become ill.

What illness does Baylisascaris cause?
Baylisascaris infections in people are very rarely diagnosed. Swallowing a few Baylisascaris eggs can result in no or few symptoms. However, swallowing a large number of eggs can result in severe disease that affects the nervous system or eyes

How is Baylisascaris spread?
The parasite is spread by swallowing Baylisascaris eggs, which are found in the feces of raccoons that are infected with Baylisascaris. People can be exposed to Baylisascaris eggs in soil, water, or on objects that have been contaminated with feces from an infected raccoon.

Additional information on the disease can be found on the CDC Baylisascaris Website.

What should I do if I find raccoon feces or a dead raccoon in my pool? 
Although chlorine in pools will kill most germs that a raccoon could carry into the water, it does not kill Baylisascaris eggs.

If raccoon feces or a dead raccoon are found in the pool:

Close the pool to swimmers. Contact Bohmz Pest Removal for a free clean up quote!

How do I clean my pool if it has been contaminated with Baylisascaris? 
Because Baylisascaris eggs are particularly tough, adding chlorine to the water will not kill them. If a lab test has confirmed that the raccoon was infected with Baylisascaris or you don’t know if the raccoon was infected because the raccoon’s feces were not tested, there are two options for cleaning your pool.

*Remember to close the pool to swimmers until you have finished cleaning the pool.

Option 1:

  • Filter the pool for a minimum of 24 hours and then backwash the pool filter.
  • Put on disposable gloves to replace the material doing the filtering (if possible). Double bag the discarded material in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.

Option 2:

  • Backwash the pool filter.
  • Drain and hose down the pool.
  • Put on disposable gloves to replace the material doing the filtering (if possible). Double bag the discarded material in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards
  • Refill the pool.

What can I do to keep raccoons out of my swimming pool?
Raccoons usually choose certain locations to defecate (poop) and then use those same places repeatedly. Raccoons can also be attracted to areas where humans live and play. In pools, raccoons usually defecate in the shallow areas (for example, on the steps).

Here are some tips for keeping raccoons out of your pool:

  • Cover the pool area that has been visited by raccoons.
  • Keep the fence around the pool closed.
  • Find out if anyone in your area is feeding raccoons, leaving pet food outside, leaving uncovered trash outside, or using trash cans that are not properly secured. Discourage this behavior as it could be attracting animals, particularly raccoons, to your pool.
  • Contact Bohmz Pest Removal, a pest control removal professional that can help!

Do You Think You Might Have A Raccoon Problem?

Identifying Raccoons in Wisconsin

The raccoon is a common backyard “bandit” that is easy to spot with its black facemask and bushy, ringed tail. These animals are nocturnal. (That means active at night.) They spend the nighttime hours searching for food in cities and countryside. The raccoon is very good with its front paws, using them like hands. Its scientific name, Procyon lotor, means “a washer.” Raccoons often seem to wash their food in the water.

How can you identify a raccoon?

Besides their mask and bushy, ringed tail, raccoons are covered with 1-2 inch-long fur. They weigh an average of 14-24 pounds — but they can grow to 40 pounds! Their fur is a grizzled gray color or sometimes black with silver tips. Raccoon fur can range from a light brown to reddish, to a dark black color. Look for their broad head, pointed nose, and black eyes. Their ears stand straight up and are about 1 ½ inches long. Raccoons make a variety of sounds including purrs, whimpers, snarls, growls, hisses, screams, and whinnies.
raccoon track drawing,

Raccoon tracks are easy to spot because their paw print looks like a pair of small human hands. Each foot has five long toes with short, curved claws. The raccoon’s body is round. It has short legs and flat feet that cause it to waddle. The bottoms of raccoon feet are hairless. Look for tracks near the water since they like to wade in woodland streams, prowling for food.

Night Walker

Look for raccoons at night, as they start moving around at sunset and then “disappear” after sunrise. You can find them all across Wisconsin, but they are less common in the northern counties. During the day, they rest on high ground or in hollow trees, rock crevices, burrows, caves, or buildings.

Nighttime means mealtime for raccoons. They are omnivorous, which means that they eat both plants and animals. Raccoons like a mixture of nuts, fruits, berries, seeds, insects, frogs, turtles, eggs, crayfish, carrion (dead meat) and garbage! They like wooded, brushy areas near water and can often be spotted wading in a pond or stream “dipping” their food in the water.

In spring and fall, they love to rest in empty nests of large birds or squirrels. Raccoons can also make their home in buildings. In the warm months, raccoons are known for their nighttime activities in neighborhoods where they tip over trash cans, and raid gardens and bird feeders looking for a bite to eat. You might catch a glimpse of one coming out of, or scurrying into a storm sewer. They can be a problem for homeowners when they move into buildings.

Urban raccoons

Due to its adaptability, the raccoon has been able to use urban areas as a habitat. The first sightings were recorded in a suburb of Cincinnati in the 1920s. Since the 1950s, raccoons have been present in metropolitan areas like Madison, Chicago, and Milwaukee. Home range sizes of urban raccoons are only 3 to 40 hectares (7.5 to 100 acres) for females and 8 to 80 hectares (20 to 200 acres) for males. In small towns and suburbs, many raccoons sleep in a nearby forest after foraging in the settlement area. Fruit and insects in gardens and leftovers in municipal waste are easily available food sources. Furthermore, a large number of additional sleeping areas exist in these areas, such as hollows in old garden trees, cottages, garages, abandoned houses, and attics. The percentage of urban raccoons sleeping in abandoned or occupied houses varies from 15% in Washington, DC (1991) to 43% in Kassel (2003).

Health

Raccoons can carry rabies, a lethal disease caused by the neurotropic rabies virus carried in the saliva and transmitted by bites. Its spread began in Florida and Georgia in the 1950s and was facilitated by the introduction of infected individuals to Virginia and North Dakota in the late 1970s. Of the 6,940 documented rabies cases reported in the United States in 2006, 2,615 (37.7%) were in raccoons. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as local authorities in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces, has developed oral vaccination programs to fight the spread of the disease in endangered populations. Only one human fatality has been reported after transmission of the rabies virus strain commonly known as “raccoon rabies”.

Raccoons and human Conflicts

The increasing number of raccoons in urban areas has resulted in diverse reactions in humans, ranging from outrage at their presence to deliberate feeding. Some wildlife experts and most public authorities caution against feeding wild animals because they might become increasingly obtrusive and dependent on humans as a food source. Other experts challenge such arguments and give advice on feeding raccoons and other wildlife in their books. Raccoons without a fear of humans are a concern to those who attribute this trait to rabies, but scientists point out this behavior is much more likely to be a behavioral adjustment to living in habitats with regular contact to humans for many generations. Raccoons usually do not prey on domestic cats and dogs, but individual cases of killings have been reported.

Be Careful

Wild animals do not make good pets! Raccoons can carry diseases like the distemper virus. If you see a wild animal acting strange, stay away and contact a professional at Bohmz Pest Services Immediately by calling (608) 201-0807 or visit our CONTACT PAGE.

Raccoons can be found living in attics, crawlspaces, dumpsters, and basements in homes and businesses throughout Janesville, Madison, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Verona, Fitchburg & Beloit.

General Raccoon Questions & Answers

Q. Why did the raccoons pick my house?

A. Wild animals, including raccoons, pick a house by its exterior first.  If you have food available, like bird feeders, garbage, gardens, lawn grubs or pet food, the raccoons consider this great curb appeal.

Once they see a good place to eat, the next check is for a good place to sleep and raise their young.  Raccoons can squeeze through any opening that their head will fit through, or about a 4″ hole.  Anything that gives them access to the interior of the building (like loose fascia), or to the chimney makes your house their home.

Q. Why do raccoons want to live in my attic?

A. Raccoons seek a safe place to live and to raise their babies.  As human populations spread, construction and development destroys natural raccoon homes.  Manmade structures are very similar to the natural habitat of a hollow tree, with the extra bonus of climate control and very few predators.  Attics, chimneys and crawl spaces or even wall cavities make great nurseries.

Q. Why do I need to get rid of raccoons?

A. Raccoons do not make good roommates-they never pay rent and they leave the place a mess.  You want to get them out as soon as possible or suffer from noise, attic damage, chimney blockage, tipped garbage cans, missing pet food, alarmed pets and possible disease. Once raccoons are accustomed to your home they return year after year-scratching, mating, fighting, growling and generally tearing up the place.  Raccoons can weigh up to 50 pounds and make a mess that seems much bigger than that.  They also create holes that give access to other animals, such as bats.  Their messes attract even more animals, like mice and rats. We recommend you get them out of your building as soon as possible.

Q. When are raccoons a problem?

A. Raccoons in homes are always a problem.  They have a well-deserved reputation for mischief.  The very name “raccoon” comes from an Algonquian word meaning “he who scratches with his hands.”  That gives you a good idea of the problems raccoons cause. They are also intelligent, omnivorous (will eat nearly anything), and strong.  When they enter the human world they damage property, scare people, injure pets, threaten your physical and mental health and keep you up at night.

Q. When do raccoons come into houses?

A. Raccoons most commonly enter homes and other buildings between April and September, depending on location, but we get calls year-round from people with animals in their attics, chimneys and crawl spaces.  Raccoons seek shelter or a place to birth and raise their young. Females hide from the male raccoons (boars), which hunt and kill young raccoons.

Q. When is the best time to get rid of raccoons?

A. As soon as you know they are in your home.  We can remove raccoons, even with litters of young, any time of the year. The longer you wait the more damage they cause and the harder it is to keep them from returning. If you know there are raccoons in your area or have heard that your neighbors have had raccoon problems, quickly put preventative measures in place or you may be next.

Q. Where do raccoons usually enter a building?

A. A raccoon can enter your building anywhere she finds or can make a 4-inch hole.  That’s right, if her head fits, she can squeeze her body through!  Favorite access spots are chimneys, weak soffits, dormers, and under eaves.  Unfinished areas, such as under decks, are also favorite doors, as are locations where two types of material meet (brick to wood or siding to stucco).

Q.  How do I know if I have raccoons in my attic?

A. Don’t ignore the probability that an animal is there.  99% of the time when people call me with a possible animal problem, they are right! With raccoons, you usually don’t really have to wonder because they are not sneaky.

Walk around your home and look for raccoon activity: bent or broken vents and mud or scratch marks near corners and downspouts. Raccoons tear holes with their strong and clever hands. Listen for chirping sounds in your fireplace or screaming and crying (raccoon mating noise) in your attic. You will commonly hear a lot of walking, thumping and wrestling noises, almost like two boys in a fight.  Late night and early morning are very noisy times as the raccoons wake up and leave and then return to den in the morning.

Raccoons leave droppings similar in size and smell to a dog and have a strong body odor as well. You may also see animals occasionally during the day.  Be cautious. Raccoons are primary nocturnal and activity during the day can mean rabies.  It can also just mean the animal is unusually stressed or seeking food.