What You Need to Know About Raccoons as Pests

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 02:57 PM

file4781300045861.jpgIf you were to see a raccoon, what would you think? Would you think of these critters as fluffy, friendly creatures? Chances are you might. After all, movies such as "Pocahontas" portray the raccoon Meeko as a loyal companion. And movies like "Guardians of the Galaxy" reveal that raccoons are clever and have a mischievous demeanor-but these qualities still make Rocket seem like a good friend and fellow superhero.

On the other hand, movies like "Over the Hedge" depict raccoons as sneaky thieves, while films such as "Are We Done Yet?" and "Furry Vengeance" demonstrate a more vicious side of raccoons.

In reality, raccoons are pests that can cause a lot of damage to your home and property-and they can even wreak havoc on your life if you don't remove them as soon as possible. In this blog, we'll tell you everything you need to know about raccoons so you can contact the appropriate professionals to eliminate these nuisance animals from your home and yard.

Why Raccoons Are Considered Pests

By definition, a pest is any insect or animal that causes issues for humans. Specifically, pests cause problems as they damage crops, destroy landscaping, and mutilate buildings. Because raccoons live inside houses and other buildings, and because they cause a lot of property damage (which you'll read more about below), raccoons are considered pests.

Where Raccoons Live

Usually, raccoons prefer to live in natural habitats like wooded areas close to water. In the wild, you'll most often find raccoons in brush piles, hollow trees, rock crevices, and ground burrows. However, as their natural habitat has shrunk, raccoons have adapted to life in suburban areas. These critters will den underneath decks and anywhere in backyards.

You'll also find raccoons under homes and other buildings on your property, such as a shed.

Since raccoons are nocturnal animals, they need somewhere dark to sleep during the daytime. They prefer the following areas and structures of buildings:

  • Attics
  • Chimneys
  • Crawl spaces
  • Roofs
  • Soffits
  • Vents and ducts
  • Walls

Raccoons will also den in the holes and loose spaces beneath a house or building, since these areas are well protected and more difficult for people and other animals to discover.

What Raccoons Eat

As omnivores, raccoons eat a wide range of foods. They prefer to eat water-based animals, but their diets include a variety of plants and animals, such as:

  • Birds
  • Clams
  • Crayfish
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Fruit
  • Insects
  • Muskrats
  • Nuts
  • Rabbits
  • Snails
  • Turtles
  • Vegetables

Raccoons will also eat any animal eggs they find near their den. If they can't find any of their preferred food sources, they'll rummage through garbage cans outside your home and eat whatever food scraps they find inside. Raccoons will also eat dry pet food if they can access it.

Why Raccoons Are Dangerous to You, Your Family, and Your Home

As previously mentioned, raccoons can cause a lot of damage to your home or other buildings on your property. In fact, raccoons can tear your air ducts apart, create large holes in your walls and underneath your home, and they can even tear apart the insulation in your attic as they build their dens.

The females especially damage a property significantly as they look for nesting sites. A female raccoon may do any of the following to your home as she creates a nest for her kits:

  • Rip shingles off the roof.
  • Tear fascia boards.
  • Claw rooftop ventilators.
  • Remove or destroy insulation air conditioning ducts.

Once a raccoon has built a den or nest, it will likely start to urinate and defecate in the area. Unfortunately, raccoons' urine and feces contain many harmful bacteria and parasites. If you and your family members (or anyone else in the building) become exposed to these parasites or bacteria, you could develop serious illnesses.

Some of these parasites and bacteria are even airborne, so you could become ill simply by breathing in these toxins. Raccoon feces and urine could cause you to develop the following health issues:

  • Salmonella
  • Roundworm
  • Leptospirosis
  • Giardiasis

If you come into contact with a raccoon and it bites or scratches you, you could also contract rabies. The raccoon must already have rabies to spread the virus to you, but bites and scratches from a non-rabid raccoon could also become infected.

What You Can Do to Get Rid of Raccoons on Your Property

If you see a raccoon in your home or anywhere on your property, contact your pest control specialist immediately. Do not approach the coon or attempt to remove it from your property yourself, as you could become injured or expose yourself to bacteria and parasites.

Rely on your pest control expert, as these professionals have the skill and knowledge to safely trap and remove raccoons from your home or yard. They can also seal your house or building to prevent raccoons and other nuisance animals from getting back inside. Additionally, look for a specialist who can clean and disinfect the area to reduce your risk for developing health issues from feces and urine exposure.

Should you require more services than nuisance animal trapping, ask your pest control expert what he or she offers so you can keep your property pest free.