Raccoons are highly intelligent, cute and curious creatures that are becoming more and more common in urban environments. However, they can also be a nuisance to homeowners and cause structural damage to homes when searching for food or looking for a home for the babies.
The best defense against raccoons invading your space is to know their habits and behaviors.
Raccoon Habit #1: They are not fussy eaters.
These carnivorous mammals will eat almost anything, from meat to plant matter. They also eat acorns, leaves, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, frogs, clams, turtles, and their eggs, snakes, fish, and squirrels. In urban areas, they survive on garbage, gardens and pet food and they are sometimes seen eating roadkill’s.
In keeping with their non-fussy reputation, raccoons don’t bother to wash their food before eating it either. That being said, if you see them near a freshwater source, you may catch them dunking their food in the water before eating it. Researchers suggest they may be examining it and removing any unwanted parts. Water is thought to increase their sense of touch as well.
Raccoon Habit #2: They like to scavenge
Raccoons are opportunistic and prefer to take the path of least resistance and love to scavenge food that people, and other animals, have left behind. They seem to enjoy a challenge, and will adapt their skills and abilities if new challenges arise.
Properly secure all garbage and food waste to deter raccoons from hanging around your home or property.
Raccoon Habit #3: They like to stay up all night.
Raccoons are nocturnal creatures. They usually sleep during daylight, and spend their nights foraging for food.
Most often, raccoons leave their dens soon after sunset. They head straight for the nearest food source. Ponds, rivers, and lakes supply their favorite meals. Farm fields offer corn and other vegetables. Garbage cans in areas where people live also provide tasty treats. They don’t like to travel further than necessary to find their favorite food source.
At sunrise, tired raccoons find dens to sleep in for a long day’s rest. However, sometimes raccoons also hunt for food during the day. This is seen quite often in urban environments and during the birthing season when mother raccoons are forced to change their habits when babies arrive.
Raccoon Habit #4: They prefer to be introverts.
Raccoons are an introverted animal that likes plenty of alone time, especially males. During mating season, they’ll live with a female, but leave before the babies are born.
Females, on the other hand, will faithfully stay with their young until the end of their first winter. She provides them with food, warmth, and shelter and teaches them everything they need to know to survive.
During a harsh winter, a group of raccoons may band together. This group can consist of many females, but only one male. The group may share a den during the winter. But once spring arrives, most go their separate ways.
Raccoon Habit #5: They like to have their own territory.
Raccoons travel all over in search of food, water, and suitable locations to make their den. Males in rural areas have been known to wander as far as 10 miles in search of food or a mate. Once they’ve settled on a place to call home, they mark their territory to warn others to stay away. A male’s territory can range as far as 250 acres, a female’s is generally much smaller since she’s often busy caring for her young and can’t afford to wander off too far.
Studies have shown that in urban settings raccoons generally limit their movements to a smaller range than their cousins in the country. The reason is simple, cities provide far more food, shelter and potential mates in a smaller geographical area so the need to travel great distances just isn’t there. In fact clever urban raccoons even avoid crossing major streets to prevent run ins with traffic.
Raccoon Habit #6 Raccoons do not really hibernate.
Animals that hibernate go into a deep sleep that can last for most of the winter. Their heart rates slow down, and their body temperatures drop.
While raccoons don’t hibernate, those that live in cold climates sleep for long periods of time during winter. They may stay in their dens for several weeks at a time. But on mild days, these raccoons often wake up and go out in search of food. Once the weather gets cold again, they return to their dens and go back to sleep.
During their long periods of sleep, raccoons do not eat. Without food, they can lose up to one-half of their total weight! To prepare for these difficult times, raccoons eat more than usual in late summer and fall. This adds more and more fat to their bodies. Raccoons rely on this fat to survive cold winters.
Raccoon Habit #7 Special Hands
A raccoon’s fingers are long and flexible. The fingers are also spaced far apart. With “hands” like these, a raccoon can hold things almost as well as a monkey can.
A raccoon’s hands are seldom still. The raccoon uses the fingers of its forepaws to feel around. As it feels around, it sometimes finds food. That’s how a raccoon can catch fish without even looking. A raccoon often stares straight ahead as it puts its hands into the water. It holds its hands there until it feels something move. Then the raccoon grabs its catch and brings it to its nose. After a quick smell, the raccoon pops its catch into its mouth.
At the end of a raccoon’s fingers are strong claws. These help the raccoon grasp or climb just about anything, from a garbage can to a tree. This climbing ability comes in handy when the raccoon wants to find food or escape from enemies.
Know Your Raccoon’s Habits for Easier Deterrence
Once you know more about the raccoon, it becomes much easier to figure out ways of deterring them from moving into your property.
With a rabies outbreak occurring in Hamilton and surrounding areas, and cases of distemper spiking in the GTA and Kitchener, home and business owners should proceed with caution if they fear they have a raccoon in their home.
If you think you have a raccoon problem, call Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control today. 1-888-592-0387.
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