Raccoon Questions and Answers


01.18.2006 - Question: David, I found your sight through a Google search and have a question... actually any advice you might be able to give. I'm located in the NW suburbs of Chicago & have had a raccoon mamma raccoon with her kits in my attic now, for aprox 18 days. She had the babies probably about 14 days ago ( that's aprox when I heard for the first time, the babies chattering). The raccoon entered my attic ( and is currently entering & exiting at night only ), from the front roof louvres... which she tore apart a wide enough opening. I've seen her numerous times at night, come in and out of the louvers for her nightly foraging. During these periods, she does not stay out long at all... maybe 3 minutes max., then goes back up there. And she does not go far from the house, once she's on the ground ( probably a radius of only 50-75 feet )... obviously because of staying with-in close distance to her den w/babies. I've had a licensed trapper working on this now, for probably 17 days. I called the trapper the very next day I realized I had a raccoon up there ( but this was still before she had her babies ). He's using the standard trapping cages, baited with special raccoon paiste bait... it's kind of a dark purple/violet color. There is a trap set up right on the roof, just outside the louvre (where she goes in & out) another one on the roof on the other end of the roof, where she's jumping on & off & one more on the ground next to some bushes, right where she gets up & down ( to jump on the fence then on the roof ). They are all with the same paste bait. Do you have any suggestions of what I might try, or even something different as an obvious visual bait? The trapper seems to think that this raccon was probably trapped in a cage at one time and released. She's leary/cautious or knows what the cage is? Or is just super intelligent? BTW: I have tried the blasting radio (with just talking and tried just music). I ran it 24 hours a day for like the first week. This didn't even seem to phase her one bit. If you have any suggestions at all... I really would appreciate your input. -thanks, Mike

Answer: Your trapper is not very good. The raccoon is trap shy, and will not enter the trap. Here is how it must be done - the babies must be removed, by hand, from the attic. Then the babies (alive of course!) are set in the back of a trap as bait - use a different type of trap, such as a solid-wall trap, so that she'll be less cautious. The babies must be restrained of course, in a separate holding unit, like a small cage or tupperware with air holes drilled. She WILL go in for her babies, and then you'll have them all. Relocate far away, and seal up the opening. I've removed over 500 baby raccoons in my career, often with the mother nearby. The mother raccoon has not attacked me once. She paces back and forth a few feet away, but never attacks. If in doubt, and due to the tough location, just use a snare pole to grab them remotely. The trapper could also use Raccoon Eviction Fluid, and that will make the mom move out on her own, the young with her.

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What kinds of damage do raccoons cause?
Raccoons are most notorious for their damage to the internals of a house: they will rip up insulation and ventilation, chew and claw at wires, and leave their droppings all around them for good measure. Most annoyingly, raccoons interfere with pipe insulation, which can serve to cause plumbing problems down the line: in the winter, uninsulated pipes may freeze over, leading to expensive damage and a disabled water supply. In addition, raccoons will damage home exteriors in an attempt to get in, tearing up exterior walls and soffit fittings to gain access.

Can I claim insurance on raccoon damage?
Generally, no: homeowners are often expected to maintain their homes to a standard that prevents any raccoon infestation from happening in the first place. Thus, insurers are likely to attribute any infestation and any damage associated with it to neglect, rather than an unforeseeable event. Even when the home is kept up to a high standard and a tenacious raccoon causes extensive damage trying to enter, the homeowner is not likely to be seen as an innocent party, and it will be presumed by insurers that pre-existing damage attracted the raccoon.

Why do raccoons like my backyard so much?
Raccoons are attracted by, and thrive in, environments that have four basic components: food, water, shelter, and darkness:

Food attractive to raccoons includes fallen fruit, fish in ponds, pet food, and open garbage cans.

Water sources, like streams, ponds, and undrained puddles give raccoons a useful drinking spot.

Holes in your home wider than four inches (10 cm), easy access to your rooftop (e.g. via textured walls, creeping vines, trees, gutter pipes, etc.), and damaged roof tiles invite raccoons to use your home as their shelter.

Finally, a lack of lighting in your backyard or garden makes raccoons feel safe while they trawl through your property.

Eliminating each of these components (by, for instance, installing motion-sensing lights and keeping garbage cans shut and sealed with rubber bands) should make your backyard far less attractive to any furry passers-by.

Can I keep a raccoon as a pet?
Legally, keeping raccoons as pets is prohibited in many countries, and even in the United States, many states forbid the keeping of wild animals without a permit. However, even if you are lucky enough to live in a place that allows raccoon pets, the wild nature of raccoons makes them undesirable pets for many reasons. Firstly, raccoons need round-the-clock supervision, as they have no regard for human boundaries: if left to their own devices, raccoons will eat and destroy everything in their vicinity. Secondly, most ordinary vets refuse to see raccoons, meaning that you are mostly on your own when caring for one, which can become problematic: a raccoon kept out of the wild can still acquire all the diseases its wild counterparts carry, making it important to find an exotic (read: expensive) vet who can vaccinate your raccoon from common raccoon diseases like rabies and distemper. Finally, raccoons are not used to dogs or cats being near them all the time, meaning that if you have any additional pets, your pet raccoon is likely to fight with them on a regular basis, especially once they reach sexual maturity at the age of six months.

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