How to Prevent Raccoons in Homes and Businesses
Instead of removing raccoons after they become a problem, you can also take some precautionary measures to prevent raccoons from taking over your home or business. Here are a few tips on how to keep these masked bandits out so you can continue living in harmony with one another:
1. Regularly Inspect Your Home or Business and Make Necessary Repairs
Since raccoons can gain entry to your home or business through holes, uncapped chimneys, busted vents or any other roof openings, it’s vital to keep an eye on things so you notice if something is out of the ordinary. If you find any visible signs of raccoons or even loose siding or shingles, make the repairs necessary to keep everything in great condition to keep raccoons out.
2. Keep Trash Somewhere Safe
If raccoons are a big problem in your area, consider keeping your trash sealed and locked in somewhere such as a shed. You may even want to secure the garbage can lid with cinder blocks or bungee cords as an extra preventative measure since raccoons are very smart.
3. Clean Your Yard
Any branches, leaves or other debris could act as an ideal hiding spot or living area for raccoons, so make sure you mow your grass and clean up your yard regularly to avoid anything piling up. Keep firewood at least 20 feet or so from the building in winter as raccoons may use it to build a shelter. You should also remove things like bird feeders and fruit or produce from gardens.
4. Protect Your Pets
Make sure your pets are up to date with their rabies vaccinations and seal any pet entry doors in the evening to prevent raccoon entry.
What Kind of Damage Can Raccoons Do?
Raccoons can be pretty messy. Just ask anyone who has had the misfortune seeing their garbage can toppled over, the contents of which have been strewn all over the lawn. Now imagine what they can do if left for any time inside your home.
When raccoons take up residence inside an attic they are capable of causing tremendous amounts of property damage. We often find that the damage raccoons do to gain entry to your attic is the tip of the iceberg compared to what they do once inside. In very little time, a family of raccoons is capable of destroying your insulation and filling your attic with harmful and odorous urine and feces.
With the average raccoon weighing in at 25-30 lb (11-14 kg) they can quickly trample and compress attic insulation simply by walking around. Pregnant female raccoons will compact and clear large areas of the attic to comfortably rest and nurse their young. All of this activity serves to damage your insulation and reduce its effectiveness. A properly insulated attic is critical to keeping your home warm in winter and cool in the summer. Raccoon damage can cost you thousands of dollars in inflated heating and cooling bills.
Urine and Feces
An even scarier thought for many is the fact that raccoons will use your attic as a giant litter box. The amount of urine and feces produced by a single raccoon is enough to create some serious health concerns. These problems are multiplied when as many as eight babies are born and raised just inches above your ceiling.
One of the most significant dangers associated with raccoons can be found in their feces. Baylisascaris is an infection caused by a roundworm contained in raccoon excrement. The roundworm eggs are often found inside raccoon droppings and if ingested by humans can cause severe damage to the nervous system or death.
Do Raccoons Attack People?
Whether or not raccoons will attack people depends on the situation. Raccoons will attack if they feel threatened and particularly if they are sick. Raccoons will attack people only if they feel threatened, and they can inflict serious injuries. Not only that raccoons can hurt a person with scratching and biting, but they can also transmit serious diseases, like rabies. Even though raccoons will not purposefully attack humans to prey on them or kill, they will attack in self-defense or to defend their litter. For these reasons, people are not recommended to try and trap raccoons on their own and try to transport and relocate them outside of cage traps.
Raccoons will definitely attack in self-defense. The examples of these situations are numerous, like if a homeowner surprises and scares a raccoon in a small space, where the animal can’t escape safely, or when a homeowner attempts to grab a raccoon using their hands. Another example of a risky situation is when a homeowner attempts to move the animal out of the trap on their own, touching the animal and not giving it the space to escape and find shelter. Trying to handle a raccoon on your own can be particularly dangerous if a person is not absolutely sure that the animal is not protecting their litter, which can be near. In this situation, a raccoon will act aggressively to protect its young, and this is a situation where a raccoon will try to chase a person away with biting and scratching. Normally, the animal’s reaction would be to try to get away and attack only in cornered, but protecting a litter is the strongest instinct in animals, and this is the situation where a raccoon will decide to purposefully attack a person.
RACCOONS IN THE ATTIC
- Scare them out. Use caution! Just making your presence known will usually do it. Go into the attic a few times a day with a flashlight. Shine the light on them and talk to them. But if touched or threatened, by being cornered or feeling boxed in, they will defend themselves and they are quite adept at doing so.
- If there are babies, give the mother 1 or 2 nights to relocate the family.
- Roll some rags into a tight ball and tie with twine to keep them tight. Soak the rag balls in ammonia. Toss them into the area of the attic where the raccoon is located.
- If you can, sprinkle Cayenne pepper or Repel® granules, a commercial dog and cat repellant, around the entry hole, both inside and out, if this is possible.
- During the day, place a radio in the attic tuned to an all talk station.
- Use floodlights to keep the area where they are living well lit.
- Once the raccoon has moved out, secure their entry point. Use hardware cloth or welded wire.
- They usually won’t come back. If you want to use a repellant, then you can either Sprinkle Repel® granules or Cayenne pepper around the entrance area, if that is possible; or use a repellant, such as Ropel®, sprayed around the entrance area.
Is That Raccoon Rabid?
If you see a raccoon in your yard during the day, don’t panic—she is not necessarily sick or dangerous. It’s perfectly normal for raccoons to be active throughout the day. She may merely be foraging longer hours to support her young, visiting a garden while the dogs are indoors, or moving to a new location.
Key in on the behavior of the raccoon before calling for assistance. Look for:
- Staggering gait
- An animal seemingly oblivious to noise or nearby movement
- Erratic wandering
- Discharge from eyes or mouth
- Wet and matted hair on face
- Repeated high-pitch vocalization
If you see a raccoon showing these signs, call your local animal control or police department.