What do raccoons look like?
Raccoons are predominately nocturnal however they will occasionally roam during the daytime. Raccoons are found in rural areas, forest areas, agriculturally land, in suburban communities and urban cities. They are often found near waterways such as streams, creeks, ponds, lakes, and tidal water tributaries.
Raccoons are a stocky and very strong medium size mammal that measures 8 to 12 inches high (from ground to shoulder). Raccoons found in forest areas or in the country weighing an average of 10 to 30 pounds. Weighing in at 35 to 57 pounds raccoons living in suburban and urban areas are much heavier do to the abundance of food sources. Males are also 15% to 20% heavier than females. During late summer and throughout the fall raccoons will eat as much as they can to prepare their bodies for the harsh winter weather. From October to December raccoons can weigh twice their normal body weight. By the time spring arrives a raccoons weight maybe back to normal however if the winter weather was harsh they may weigh less than their normal body weight.
From the tip of the raccoons nose to the tip of their fluffy tail measures an average of 16 to 30 inches. Their fur is a gray and dark charcoal or blackish salt and pepper appearance. They have a heavy undercoat which protects them during the cold temperatures in winter. Raccoons are also called “bandits” because they have a mask of dark fur around their eyes. Their fluffy gray tail has dark charcoal or blackish rings the entire length of the tail and is usually 8 to 16 inches long.
The raccoon’s front paws look a lot like a human hand with four long fingers and one thumb. The dexterous front paws allow them to unlock locks, untie knots, and open jars. They also use their front paws to catch fish, crabs, and grubs from tree stumps. Their front paws allow them to climb rain spouts and even the vertical wall of homes with siding.
What do raccoons eat?
Raccoons have an omnivorous diet. They have 40 teeth that allow them to feed on a wide variety of foods including meats, vegetable, grain, fruit and nut. Raccoons will also feed on road kill alongside roads and highways. It is important for a raccoon to have the right balance of foods to maintain good health. Their diet typically consist of about 35 to 40% invertebrates which includes insects, crayfish, snails, grubs and worms. Vertebrates such as birds, mice, rats, and snakes make up about 25 to 30% of a raccoons diet. Plant food such as fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables are about 30 to 35% of a raccoon’s diet.
In forest areas raccoons are known to feed on bird eggs, baby birds and adult birds that they may creep up on in a tree in the darkness of night. Waterways in forest areas such as creeks and streams provide fish and cray fish as a healthy meal for raccoons. Other foods raccoons find in forest areas are field mice, baby or small rabbits, baby or small opossum, grubs, worms, large insects such as beetles, bats hanging in a tree, small snakes, wild berries and nuts.
In agricultural or farming areas raccoons will feed on field mice, rats, worms, grubs, and grains. They will also take advantage of the vegetation or crops growing on a farm. Raccoons will gladly feed on some livestock feed such as pig feed which is a combination of corn and soybean meal with dried whey and sugar. Often farmers have domestic cats to maintain the abundance of field mice on the farm however raccoons not only find cat food tasty but have also been known to feed on kittens.
Suburban communities tend to have a high population of raccoons do to the steady food supply. Dog and cat food left on the porch can easily sustain a healthy raccoon. They are known to climb poles to feed on bird seed and invade nesting boxes or bird houses to feed on unsuspecting baby and adult birds in the night. Raccoons will use their dexterous paws to open trash can lids to feed on scraps and leftovers humans throughout.
Raccoons are extremely smart and are able to adapt to almost any environment. Over the past thirty or forty years the raccoon population in urban communities has skyrocketed do to the endless supply of food and shelter. Raccoons will feed on rats, mice and insects found in sewer tunnels under city streets. They will feed on birds roosting on buildings at night. Trash cans and dumpsters throughout a city or town serve as a smorgasbord for raccoons.
How smart are raccoons?
Raccoons are very intelligent. According to recent studies raccoons are very capable of remembering up to 3 years. They are known to open locks and remove lids off of jars. Raccoons have figured out they can easily enter an attic space by pulling apart or bending the louver vents on gable vents. In some communities homeowners have had to modify their trash can lids to stop raccoons from opening them. Unfortunately raccoons often figure out how to manipulate the modification and continue to open the lid. Twist ties and bungie cords are no match for some raccoons.
Wildlife control technicians frequently receive calls from homeowners about raccoons entering homes through dog doors. In March of 2018’ a homeowner who thought their cats apatite was out of control because the dry cat food dish was empty every morning decided to watch their security footage to observe the cat. To their surprise a raccoon was entering their home night after night through the fireplace. Once inside the raccoon would eat all of the dry cat food in the dish on the floor then he would return to the fireplace to exit the home.
How do raccoons socialize with each other?
In the past it was thought that raccoons were solitary and unsociable amongst each other however we have learned through much observation this is not true. Four to eight male raccoons (also called boars) that may or may not be related to each other will gather together in groups within the same territory. This is done to ensure the security of the territory against outsiders especially during mating season. The territory for which a male raccoon chooses depends on the availability of food and shelter. The availability of females during mating season is another factor when choosing a territory.
Female raccoons also called sows will congregate together with other females that they are related to such as daughters, granddaughters and sisters. However they prefer to be solitary from the time they give birth to their young until the time their young are able to feed on their own and are large enough to protect themselves against bullying adult females in the group. The period of time the young stay with their mother may vary between 6 to 14 months. Even after 14 months some of the female young may integrate within the mother’s territory depending on the availability of food within the territory.
For both male and female raccoons the availability of food ultimately dictates the number of raccoons within a group and the size of their territory. The number of raccoons that socialize together or group together in forest areas tend to be smaller do to the sparseness of food. The number of raccoons that socialize together or group together in suburban and urban areas tend to be high do to the abundance of food sources.
How big is a raccoon’s territory?
The size of an adult raccoon’s territory may vary depending on the individual. Most raccoons have a home range of between 2 and 4 square miles. The shape of the territory may be irregular and they most often include some type of waterway like a pond, lake, stream or creek. A raccoon may cover as much as 3-5 miles on mild fall nights and eat as much as 5 pounds of food while storing up body fat for winter. Usually, raccoons will retreat to one of their den sites during the daytime and roam throughout their territory at night.
Where do raccoons live or den?
The area in which raccoons use as housing is called a den. Raccoons will den in just about any structure that provides safety from predators, seclusion and protection from the harsh weather. Den sites may include but are not limited to attics, crawl spaces, chimneys, wall cavities, under porches, in hollow trees, rock crevices, abandoned homes or buildings or vehicles, sewer systems, under sheds or outbuildings or any other safe, dry cavity. Raccoons may also us dens that were abandoned by other animals such as groundhogs. Typically raccoons have two den sites (some may have up to four) within their territory. During inspections wildlife control technicians often find that a raccoon has been using the attics of homes that are next to each other (neighbors).
The photo below was taken of a home in Baltimore, Maryland. The homeowners did not go into the side yard often and did not realize that 6 adult male Raccoons were living in their attic. These Raccoons were climbing up the gutter down spout and then climbing down and across the cedar siding where they ripped a large hole in the soffit to access the attic space. You can clearly see the stained rub marks from the Raccoons fur around the area where they were entering the attic space. The homeowners said they would hear noises from time to time but did not realize that Raccoons had been denning in their attic for at least 6 months. The damage the Raccoons caused to this home was extensive. The attic insulation had to be removed and replaced, electrical wiring had to be replaced, the soffit had to be replaced and the exterior of the home had to be painted. The sheet rock ceiling in the upstairs of the home had to be replaced also because it was saturated with Raccoon urine. This was an extreme and rare case and luck for the couple that lived here their homeowners insurance covered the Raccoon damage repair cost which exceeded $18,000.
The Raccoon in the photo below was not happy to leave this Baltimore, Maryland home. She had 3 five week old babies tucked away in the crawl space of this home. She was climbing up a Holly bush in the flower bed and getting onto the garage rooftop. Raccoons are very smart and she discovered that the flashing on this rooftop would be easy to rip open. She also ripped down a section of plywood which gave her access to the inside of the attic space. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control uses a humane eviction method that forces the mother Raccoon to move her young to a different den site. After all the Raccoons were gone Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control repaired the damages.
How do raccoons get into attics and crawl spaces?
Mischievous and clever, raccoons are always on the lookout for a comfortable place that provides seclusion and protection from bad weather. Raccoons are very smart animals and excellent climbers. They prefer to den high off the ground to avoid predators including humans and dogs. In suburban and urban communities it is common to find raccoons denning in attics and crawl spaces.
Raccoons use their superior climbing abilities to navigate up the vertical exterior walls of homes and buildings to access attics and crawl spaces. Their hand like front paws and sharp claws allow them to hold on to rain spouts, porch post, corner beads of vinyl siding, electrical wires, and air conditioning lines. They can also use the sharp claws on their strong finger like toes to climb straight up the side of brick or stone homes. One level or ranch style homes tend to be easier for raccoons to gain entry.
Once a raccoon has climbed to the rooftop of a home they will search for the path of least resistance to gain entry into the interior of the attic, crawl space or wall cavity. Sometimes they will use pre-existing openings and sometimes they will make an opening. Raccoons are very furry animals and the fur makes their body look a lot larger than they really are however if a raccoon can fit their head and shoulders through an opening then the rest of their body will also fit through the opening.
Some of the most common areas raccoons enter an attic are gable vents, attic fans, soffits, fascia boards, dormer pockets ride vents, and occasionally they will rip a hole through the rooftop. Raccoons will enter gable vents which are located on the sides of a home at the roofline. They will access a gable vent by climbing up the side of a home (if possible) or by hanging over the rooftop by holding on the edge of the roof with their hind feet and stretching apart the louvers of the gable vent with their front feet.
Attic fans are located on the top of the roof. Rarely are they installed with a cover or cap to prevent wildlife to enter. An attic fan that does not have a cover or cap is like an open door for raccoons. When a raccoon enters an attic fan opening they are able to use their front and back paws to grasp the 2 by 4 roof trusses like a tree branch and shimmy their way down to the attic floor. The installation of an attic fan cover will prevent raccoons, other wildlife and debris from entering an attic.
Soffits are usually made of vinyl or aluminum and are not fastened down correctly when installed. Most contractors simply lay the vinyl or aluminum soffit in place. Once the raccoon is positioned under the soffit they can push the soffit up into the attic or they can wedge their long toes in the corner and pull the soffit down. Even wood soffits are sometimes no match for raccoons especially if the wood is weak or rotted. Fascia boards are the wood boards that the horizontal gutter is attached to. All too often this board is not properly fitted when installed and there is a gap between the board and the edge of the roof. Raccoons are able to get their front pawns behind the board and pull it out which gives them access to the attic.
Dormer pockets are the inner corners of a dormer window where the dormer corner meets the rooftop. Dormer pockets are another vulnerable area that is loosely installed or not fastened down properly when installed. Raccoons can easily push in the corner and gain entry into the attic space.
Once in a while a raccoon will rip open the rooftop its self. Usually this happens around the edge of the roof where the rooftop meets the fascia board. They will grab the edge of the roof with their front paws and pull the shingles and plywood up. They may also grab it with their mouth and rip it up. Of course the plywood is weak from moisture or some rot however that is most likely why the raccoon chose that spot.
Crawl spaces under homes and decks make a perfect den site for raccoons. They will enter dry and secluded crawl space through vulnerable vents and unsecured access doors. Raccoons can do a lot of damage in a crawl space by ripping down insulation and moisture barriers under the flooring of a home. They may also cause costly damage to ventilation ducts, plumbing and electrical wiring.
The photo below was taken at a house in Bethesda, Maryland. A mother Raccoon climbed on top of the garage roof and spread apart the louvers in this gable vent to access the attic. She gave birth to 3 babies in the far left corner by the soffit. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control used a humane eviction method which encourages the mother Raccoon to move her babies to another location. Once the mother Raccoon and her babies were moved out Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control installed a raccoon proof gable vent to prevent her or other Raccoons from accessing the attic in the future.
The photo below shows an example of how intelligent and physically strong Raccoons are. One of the three male Raccoons that were denning in this attic discovered a vulnerable spot on the roof and took advantage of it. The Raccoon had to rip these shingles off then force its long finger like toes into the edge of this 1 inch by 10 inch board and rip part of the board out to access this attic space. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control was able to trap all three Raccoons within 24 hours and repair the entry point to prevent other Raccoons from entering.
In the photo below you can see where a raccoon ripped out the soffit of this Frederick, Maryland home to den in the attic. The homeowners noticed their soffit hanging down as they left for work one morning. Apparently a Raccoon climbed up the rain spout and ripped this vinyl soffit down with easy. The homeowners called Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control to trap the Raccoon and repair the soffit.
Below is another photo of a soffit that was destroyed by a Raccoon. The homeowners went out of town for a weekend and returned to a devastating site. This Raccoon climbed up the brick façade on the exterior of this home at easily ripped down the vinyl soffit to access the attic. Once inside this Raccoon continued with its destructive behavior throughout the attic.
Below is another photo of a soffit that was compromised by Raccoons. Two adult Raccoons were climbing up the brick on the exterior of this Gaithersburg, Maryland home to access Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control trapped both Raccoons the first night and repair the damage the very next day. This homeowner did not need an attic cleanout because the Raccoons were not in the attic long enough to cause damage to the insulation.
Why do raccoons use chimneys as den sites?
Raccoons prefer to den in secluded natural places such as hollow trees and rock crevices. Unfortunately to ensure their survival over the past several decades they have had to adjust to the vast influx of human encroachment. Raccoons have learned to adapt to the disappearance of their natural habitat and the new communities being built by the tens of thousands. They are not only adapting but thriving in our communities.
In many cases our homes and buildings provide better den sites then nature provides. Chimneys have taken the place of hollow trees. Once a raccoon reaches a rooftop they investigate every square inch searching for that perfect secluded dry den site. Chimneys replicate a hollow tree and if there is no cap on top then a raccoon has complete access, it’s like an open door to your home.
Female raccoons with babies are most commonly found in chimneys. Just before a female gives birth she will seek out the perfect den site away from other raccoons and predators and chimneys fit that profile. The will den on top of the firebox behind the damper on the smoke shelf.
The interior of the chimney flue is sometimes smooth so it may be impossible for a raccoon to climb however many chimney flues have a rough textured surface for raccoons to climb like a tree.
The photo above was taken in the chimney of a home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This mother raccoon climbed down the flue of this chimney and gave birth to 3 young on top of the closed damper. Once again Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control was able to use a humane eviction method which persuades the mother Raccoon to move her babies to another location. After the mother and babies had moved on Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control installed a Raccoon proof chimney cap so no other Raccoons could enter this chimney flue.
Why is it important not to start a fire when raccoons are denning in a chimney?
Since hollow trees are not common in suburban communities raccoons have taken a liking to denning in chimney flues particularly because chimney flues resemble hollow trees. They enter through the top of the flue on the roof and den on the smoke shelf which is located on top of the firebox behind the damper. Wildlife control technicians report that over 90% of the annual calls for raccoons in chimneys are females with babies.
Wildlife control technicians and professional pest control companies use a variety of different techniques to evict raccoons from chimney flues. However they all agree that starting a fire in the fireplace is a very bad idea and it almost never works out in a good way. Starting a fire will cause the raccoon to become overwhelmed with smoke and heat causing them to panic and die in the chimney flue or causing them to run out into the house. It is very difficult and expensive to extract a dead animal from a chimney flue. A horrifically bad odor will saturate your home for weeks if the animal is burned even after the dead body is removed.
A chimney cap installed on top of the flue is an inexpensive way to prevent raccoons from entering the chimney flue. Chimney caps also keep other wildlife such as birds and squirrels from getting in. Leaf litter and debris are also prevented from getting into the flue and becoming a fire hazard.
What are the mating habits of raccoons?
Like most wildlife raccoons do not stay with a mate for life. The length of time a male raccoon stays with a female after mating may vary depending on the number of females in the surrounding territory. Mating between a male and female generally takes about one hour. Typically after mating a male raccoon may stay with the female for a few days then the male will move on to other females. Four to eight male raccoons will congregate in a group within the same territory to keep outsiders at bay particularly at mating season. The number of females in the surrounding territories has a great deal to do with the territory a male raccoon chooses. However, even males within the same territory will compete for mating rites with a female. Larger males are more dominant and account for 60% to 75% of the mating. During oestrus (while a female is in heat) a female raccoon may seek out the most dominant males in a territory to ensure the superior genetics are passed on to her young. A litter of young may have different fathers because a female will mate with up to four males during one oestrus cycle.
Females over a year old will mate sometime between April and June while younger females may mate in late summer or even early fall. If an adult females babies die she will go into heat (oestrus) and mate again. In some cases males will kill a litter of babies so they can mate with that female. If a female suspects a larger male is lurking around the den site where here young are she will move them to a secondary den site.
When are baby raccoons born and what do they look like?
Female raccoons are pregnant for 9 weeks (63 days). The overall health and the amount of food consumed by a female before becoming pregnant determines the size of the litter she will give birth too. The healthier and heavier the female the larger the litter size. Females give birth to between 1 and 8 babies however 3 to 4 are most common. The health of the female and the amount of food a female consumes while nursing her babies will determine the health of the babies as well. If a female does not consume enough food to support the babies that are nursing off of her then she may abandoned the weakest baby in the litter and focus on providing for the healthier or stronger babies.
At around 7 to 9 weeks old the young start to venture out of the den with their mother. At this time the mother will typically have the young follow her to a new den site that is in close proximity to the old den site. The mother moves her litter to a new den because the old den is probably full of urine and feces.
At around 8 to 10 weeks of age the young start to intergrade solid food into their diet but still nurse on the mother. Around 11 to 12 weeks they become fully weaned from the mother and make nightly trips with the mother in search of food. This is a dangerous time for the young raccoons even though they are in the company of their mother. Their small size and inexperience make them vulnerable to predators, getting hit by cars and becoming trapped in dumpsters and trash cans.
Young born in April or May typically move out on their own in September or early October. Young that are born in June or July or August will stay with their mother until the following spring.
Do raccoons only come out during the night time?
Many people think if you see a raccoon during the day then the raccoon must have rabies or be sick however this is not true. Raccoons are a nocturnal species but they will occasionally venture out in the day time. Pregnant or nursing mother raccoons may sometimes roam during the day in search of food. If a raccoons den site has been compromised during the day they may retreat to their secondary den site.
How long do raccoons live?
Raccoons live up to 3 years in the wild however due to the harshness of living in the wild and the many life threatening elements such as getting hit by cars and predators they typically only live between 6 months to a year and 6 months. As pets and in zoos raccoons can live up to 20 years old.
What diseases do raccoons carry?
Rabies is a deadly virus that is spread through the saliva of infected animals. It is spread by an infected animal biting another animal or person. It can also be spread through an infected animal’s saliva. From example if an infected animal licks the open wound of another animal or licks a mucous membrane such as the eyes or nostrils or mouth of another animal.
Animals that are sociable or congregate in groups tend to be at high risk of the rabies virus. Raccoons are one of the most common carriers of rabies along with bats, skunks and fox. Feral domestic cats also have a high risk of carrying the rabies virus however they are considered domestic animals and not wildlife. There is only one rabies related human death linked to raccoons in the United States most likely do to the overwhelming information and warnings made public by the Center of Disease Control and other government agencies.
Signs a raccoon is infected with rabies are if the raccoon is staggering or is walking like it is intoxicated or if it is acting like it is lost and oddly wandering around or if it has a discharge from the mouth and eyes or if it is biting and mutilating its self. They may also loss their fear of humans and other predators or they may become friendly and walk up to people like a pet. Any animal including humans will have the same symptoms and signs when infected with the rabies virus. A raccoon infected with the rabies virus is usually dead within 1 to 3 days after being infected.
The last report publicized by the Center for Disease Control on raccoons with rabies was in 2015’ which stated that raccoons accounted for 29% of all rabies cases in the United States. If you see a raccoon or any animal showing signs of rabies contact your local animal control or police department. For more information about the rabies virus contact the Center for Disease Control.
The leading cause of death in raccoons is humans however the second leading cause of death in raccoons is the distemper virus. Both the canine and feline distemper virus plague raccoons causing severe illness and death. Both strands of the distemper virus are very contagious and quickly spread especially in areas with a large raccoon population. Juveniles and elderly raccoons are prone to death when infected with distemper.
At first the distemper virus in a raccoon starts off slow and may appear with a runny nose and watery eyes. Eventually pneumonia may occur. Many of the symptoms and signs of distemper in raccoons resemble the rabies virus. A raccoon infected with distemper may lose their fear of predators and humans. Brain damage will occur do to high fever and a raccoon may appear confused and aimlessly wandering around in circles. They may gag or cough a lot and their eyes and nose may have a heave gooey mucus discharge. They may become so aggressive that they start to chase down and attack other animals. They may have extreme diarrhea and excessive vomiting. Trembling, paralysis, seizures and odd behavior such as self-mutilate by biting will also occur.
Distemper is very contagious and is spread through contact with body fluids such as saliva, urine, and feces. Airborne droplets from coughing or sneezing may be breathed in causing transmission from an infected raccoon to a non-infected raccoon. It is also possible for fleas, ticks and flies to spread distemper. The virus will only live outside the infected raccoon’s body for a few minutes however a raccoon that recovers from the virus may still shed the virus between 60 and 90 days. Even though the virus is short lived outside the host body it is a good idea to disinfect the surface with high heat or a 1.30 bleach water solution to reduce the potential risk of spreading the virus.
There is no treatment for the canine distemper or feline distemper so unfortunately the virus must run its course till the end. Juvenile and elderly raccoons usually succumb to the virus and die however some healthy adults may survive. Animal control facilities always euthanize infected raccoons they pickup.
What parasites do raccoons carry?
Below is a photo of Raccoon roundworms.
Most raccoons are infected with raccoon roundworm which is also known as Baylisascaris. Infestation most often occurs in one of two ways. The first way is when young raccoons become infected when they eat the eggs while nursing on their mother and grooming. The second way infestation happens is when adult raccoons eat other animals such as birds, rabbits, and rodents that are infected. Once ingested the eggs hatch in the intestinal system becoming larvae. The larvae can then travel through the organs and muscles. Raccoons infected with roundworms are most commonly found in the Mid-Atlantic States, Northeast States, and the West Coast.
Larvae in a raccoons intestinal system grows into mature worms and constantly produce eggs. Then thousands and sometimes millions of roundworm eggs are excreted when a raccoon defecates. Once a raccoon defecates the eggs can take between 2 and 4 weeks to reach their infectious stage.
Raccoon roundworms are very contagious to humans. After a human is infected the process happens the same way as it does in a raccoon however raccoons have adapted to roundworm infestation and humans have not. Raccoon roundworm larvae will migrate throughout a human’s organs and muscular system causing blindness, paralysis, brain damage, organ damage and even death.
Raccoon roundworms are very contagious to humans. Several states including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York and California have reported human deaths caused by raccoon roundworms. It is also believed that many people infected with raccoon roundworms have been misdiagnosed. If raccoons frequent your yard, deck, crawl space or attic it is important to wash your hands after visiting these areas to avoid becoming infected. Young children and pets are particularly at high risk.
Raccoon roundworm eats can live for years in the right environment. Unfortunately bleach and other disinfectant cleaners have no effect on raccoon roundworm eggs or the larvae so the only way to disinfect an area that is contaminated is to use boiling water or a propane flame gun. Raccoons create raccoon latrines which is much like a cats litter box. Multiple raccoons will urinate and defecate in the same spot time after time. If raccoons have been using an area of your yard like a litter box then you can dig a deep hole and bury the contaminated dirt or materials.
Most furred wildlife such as raccoons are prone to carrying fleas. The adult fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of the animal they have infested. Flea larvae is not yet capable of sucking the blood from the host animal so it feeds on the feces of the adult fleas as it contains undigested blood.
Many home owners and apartment dwellers report flea infestations even though they do not have any pets. Most often the infestation comes from wildlife such as raccoons living in the attic or crawl space. Once the raccoons are removed the infestation may increase as all the fleas from the raccoons den site go in search of a new host to feed on.
Ticks are another blood sucking parasite that makes its self at home on the fury flesh of raccoons. Ticks can pass a variety of diseases on to raccoons, other wildlife, humans and pets. If raccoons den in your attic or crawl space there is a great chance they will bring ticks into your home at from time to time. Just like fleas if raccoons are evicted from your attic or crawl space any remaining ticks will seek out the closes warm blooded host putting you and your pets at jeopardy.
Where do raccoons defecate and urinate?
The group of raccoons within a territory will urinate anywhere but will always defecate in the same areas called latrines. Raccoon latrines can be found in a variety of areas such as rooftops, in tree cavities or at the forks of tree branches, rotted tree stumps, in woodpiles, on decks or porches, in attics, in crawl spaces, in mulch beds, in children’s sandboxes, or any other area they feel comfortable defecating on. Raccoon latrines are dangerous to humans and pets as the feces contains thousands and even millions of raccoon roundworm eggs.
Humans can ingest raccoon roundworm eggs by placing your hand on a surface where raccoon feces has been then touching your mouth. Small children and disabled people are at high risk because they often put foreign objects in their mouth or contaminated fingers in their mouth.
If you locate a raccoon latrine in your attic or on your property you may want to hire a professional to clean it up. If you choose to do the cleanup yourself approach with caution. Be sure to wear the proper personal protective equipment such as disposable rubber gloves and rubber boots. A respirator will protect you from airborne eggs which may be attached to dust particles in confined spaces such as attics and crawl spaces. Be sure to dispose of the clothing you wore before entering your home. To reduce exposure do not wear the clothing or shoes you did the cleanup in through the live space of your home as the eggs may fall off causing contamination.
If raccoons have a latrine in your attic all insulation should be removed. It is highly recommended to have a professional perform the work. Proper safety equipment such as a respirator, gloves and eye protection should be worn while performing any Raccoon feces removal. The insulation should be lightly misted with water to help keep the dust particles and roundworm eggs from becoming airborne. After the removal of the insulation it’s important to completely vacuum the attic before installing new insulation. If raccoons have a latrine in your yard you can dig a deep hole and bury the contaminated soil or burn the contaminated soil. Boiling water is also effective for exterior cleanup.
As you can see in the two photos below this Annapolis, Maryland home has ceilings that have been saturated with Raccoon urine. After the insulation in the attic was removed the sheet rock ceiling had to be ripped out and replaced.
Below is a photo of Raccoon feces in an attic of a home in Bethesda, Maryland. Multiple Raccoons have been denning in this attic for about 6 months. The homeowner said he did not see any Raccoon feces or Raccoons when he went into the attic this past January to put away holiday decorations. In June the homeowner went into the attic to retrieve items in storage and saw at least 4 adult Raccoons scatter and he also found large mounds of feces in two corners of the attic. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control was called in to provide Raccoon trapping services and attic cleanout services. Unfortunately most of this homeowners holiday decorations were destroyed by the Raccoons.
What does raccoon feces look like?
Raccoon feces looks a lot like dog feces. It is a dark brown color and about 2 to 3 inches long for adult raccoons. The photo below was taken in the attic of a Columbia, Maryland home. About 5 adult male Raccoons had been living in this homeowner’s attic. You can clearly see the size, shape and color of the feces.