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Raccoons leave a wealth of evidence in their wake, and as well as plenty of noise and mess, there will also be a host of other signs that prove they have been living in your home or on your land. They are generally nocturnal animals, although it is not uncommon to see them out and about during the day. They are easily lured out of their comfortable nesting spots with something tasty they can eat.
Raccoon Paw Prints
If you have a source of water in your yard, or you have water close to your home, you are likely to see a lot of raccoon tracks. They generally spend their time in areas close to sources of water, and this makes life easier for you when it comes to identifying them. They leave paw print indentations in the soft mud, soil and dirt around the water, and they also walk their paw prints around too. Those muddy paw prints will show where the animals have visited, and if the animal is managing to get inside your home, you can use the tracks to show you some or all of the way.
The paw prints themselves will be larger at the back than they are in the front, and they’ll be pushed down more heavily in the mud at the back too. This means that the back prints are often more visible than the front prints, and this is because those back feet take the brunt of the animal's weight.
The front paw prints of the raccoon can be 3.5 cm to 8 cm wide, and 3.5 cm to 7.5 cm long. You may or may not see claws in the prints. The fur of the raccoon often disguises these.
The hind paw prints of the raccoon are considerably larger, but range between 3.5 cm to 10.5 cm in length, and 3.5 cm to 7.5 cm in width. These hind paw prints are likely to be more splayed-out than the front ones are.
Now, in some respects, identifying the droppings left by raccoons, otherwise known as scat, can be made much easier by the fact that they use latrine-style areas. This will be a toilet-space, of sorts, that many raccoons can use. If the scat is all in the same place, the disease threats aren’t scattered around. It is also easier to clean it all up.
At the same time, however, raccoons aren’t the only animals who are known to use these latrines out in the wild. If you spot different faces in the same latrine, it could very well be that a fox and a raccoon, or a number of them, are using the same latrine. This can make it slightly more difficult to identify the animal that is causing you problems, unless it is possible that they both are. In fact, different animals leaving their droppings in the same latrine is thought of as a way of marking territory.
Raccoon scat often contains remnants of whatever they’ve eaten, so you might find berries and other food stuffs that have passed undigested. Believe it or not, both foxes and raccoons are known to create latrines very close to food sources. A drain cover right next to a food-filled dumpster is a great spot. This is actually quite different to other animals. Cats are well known to refuse to use their litter tray or eat if the two are too close to each other.
Warning: Please be very careful when dealing with raccoon scat. There are plenty of diseases present in the droppings of wild animals, and with raccoons, roundworm eggs are a real concern. These can affect you and your pets, as well as other animals.
These masked creatures are very well known for the serious amount of damage they can cause wherever they go, and if you have a raccoon living in your home or on your land, it won’t be long before you start to see signs of this. They will break anything apart to get into your home, once they learn it offers them everything they’re looking for. Chimneys are often the hardest hit areas, so make sure you keep your eye on things up there, and you should also consider giving the roof a once-over to ensure it’s as protected from wild animals as you hope it would be.
Garbage cans are another area prone to raccoon molestation, and if your garbage can or trash bags are being knocked over, ripped apart, or strewn around the place, there’s a good chance that a rogue raccoon could be behind it all. These are the most prolific garbage raiders, although they are not the only wild animal to do this.
If there’s wood around, raccoons will scratch it. Trees are most hit, but wooden siding on homes, and even wooden structures and foundations can come under attack. If you have trees in your yard, you should look at cutting them back and clearing things up. They make life very easy for the raccoon, as well as other wild animals, to get higher. From tree trunks, they can run along tree branches, tops of fences, and eventually onto the roof and inside your attic or chimney.
These creatures are much more active during the night than they are during the day, but you’ll be more likely to hear them around sunrise and sunset, the times at which they would wake up and get ready to go about their day.
You will hear a variety of noises. You might hear thudding and thumping noises to start with, and this is a good sign that you have an animal in your attic that shouldn't be there. There are reported to be over fifty different vocal sounds the raccoon can make also, and these can range anywhere from low growls, to sharp and intense howling noises. Low growling is likely to be a conflict over food, or perhaps even a territory/mating fight, and is a good sign that there is more than one raccoon hanging around.
Tiny cries and howls could be the sounds of a nest of babies, calling to their mother because they are hungry. This will, of course, complicate matters, and will require the removal of an entire family - the mother and her young.
There are many tracks and signs that you can follow to point you in the direction of the animal invading your home or land. Is it time to play investigator?
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does raccoon removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of raccoons - my main raccoon removal info guide.
Example raccoon trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Raccoon job blog - learn from great examples of raccoon jobs I've done.
raccoons in the attic