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.