The raccoon is usually nocturnal and is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates. Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later. Though usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources. Although they have thrived in sparsely wooded areas in the last decades, raccoons depend on vertical structures to climb when they feel threatened. Therefore, they avoid open terrain. Tree hollows in old oaks or other trees and rock crevices are preferred by raccoons as sleeping, winter and litter dens. If such dens are unavailable or accessing them is inconvenient, raccoons use burrows dug by other mammals, dense undergrowth, roadside culverts in urban areas, or tree crotches. Raccoons can carry rabies, a lethal disease caused by the neurotropic rabies virus carried in the saliva and transmitted by bites. The increasing number of raccoons in urban areas has resulted in diverse reactions in humans, ranging from outrage at their presence to deliberate feeding. Some wildlife experts and most public authorities caution against feeding wild animals because they might become increasingly obtrusive and dependent on humans as a food source. Serious attacks on humans by groups of nonrabid raccoons are extremely rare and are almost always the result of the raccoon feeling threatened; at least one such attack has been documented. Raccoons usually do not prey on domestic cats and dogs, but individual cases of killings have been reported. While overturned waste containers and raided fruit trees are just a nuisance to homeowners, it can cost several thousand dollars to repair damage caused by the use of attic space as dens. Relocating or killing raccoons without a permit is forbidden in many urban areas on grounds of animal welfare.
Prevention: The key to preventing raccoons is exclusion/raccoon-proofing the structure, and trapping out any resident raccoons. A thorough inspection, beginning about an hour before sunrise to mid-morning or beginning about an hour before sunset and into early evening, is required to observe activity patterns. Inspect to confirm and/or find the entry points where activity was observed and to locate other potential entry points. Exclusion must be thorough. Call us for a free inspection.