The term animal instinct exists for a reason and raccoons rely on their instincts to survive in the wild and in the modern urban jungle. Raccoons quickly learn to adapt to living in many and varied environments not just because they have good survival instincts, but because their mothers also teach them certain essential survival skills. The fact that raccoons are so prolific and adaptable appears to be a good combination of nature and nurture.
Learning how to survive
According to Bill Dowd, “As a young raccoon, opossum or squirrel they have great strength using their hands. To avoid danger their main instinct is to climb up”. Because raccoon mothers are good mothers, they do their best to prepare their young for an independent life and baby raccoons learn a lot by watching their parent. Raccoons have strong hands and their natural instinct is to climb to get themselves out of harm’s way but climbing does not always come naturally and often a baby raccoon will need a bit of help from their mother to learn the skills they need to scale walls, trees, and other obstacles. But with a bit of practice and some patient lessons from a caring mother, a baby raccoon will soon learn to climb like a pro. “Raccoon mothers are excellent mothers so when they know or hear their babies in that tree the mother will climb up, round them up, either teach them to climb down with her or carry them one by one down to be relocated to one of their other den sites.” explains Bill Dowd.
Raccoons can climb almost any surface with the exception of glass and sheet metal. Once a young raccoon has mastered the art of climbing, they will be able to find their way into all sorts of nooks and crannies. Walls, wooden fences, bricks, siding, downspouts, and other man-made structures are no match for an opportunistic raccoon. In the wild, raccoons will easily scale trees to build dens high up in hollow nooks and in urban areas they will use trees to gain access to your home. Combining their instincts to head upwards with their natural climbing skills, a determined raccoon will quickly find a way onto your roof to gain access to your attic.
Most adult raccoons can also easily climb a downspout or scale a brick wall but their preferred way onto your roof is by climbing a convenient tree. Trees close to your home with overhanging branches provide an ideal opportunity for raccoons to gain access to your roof. Because of this, it is important to trim trees away from your house and remove any overhanging branches. If you want to keep the trees close to your house but prevent raccoons from using them to get onto your roof, you can wrap a two-foot-wide piece of sheet metal around the tree at a height of about two feet off the ground. This can also work well for keeping squirrels at bay.
A Mother Raccoon’s Maternal Instincts
Baby raccoons or kits are born blind and deaf and are totally reliant on their mothers in order to survive the first few weeks of their lives. They also need to spend approximately three months being nurtured and trained by their parent in order to learn all the skills that they need to survive when they finally venture out on their own. In the beginning, the mother will go out foraging for food and leave her youngsters safely nestled in their den. She will remain with her babies until they are about ten weeks old and then she will leave them to fend for themselves. Once their mother has left, the babies will venture out on their own, but they will return to their safe place and continue to use the den their mother made for them for up to a year or more.
Raccoon mothers have strong maternal instincts and getting on the bad side of a mother raccoon who is protecting her babies can end badly for all concerned. If you separate a mother raccoon from her youngsters, she will do whatever it takes to try and get them back and this can result in serious damage to your property as she uses her large, strong paws to rip her way through your roof to get back to her den. Raccoons can use their dexterous paws to easily twist door handles, push into soffit joints, rip off siding and tear open vents. A mother who is separated from her babies might also attack anyone who gets in her way.
Getting rid of a mother and her youngsters during the nesting season is not ideal. It is better to deal with a raccoon the moment they try to get into your attic and before they have time to make themselves comfortable. The best way to handle a raccoon and her babies that have taken up residence in your home is to call in a wildlife control expert, like Skedaddle. We know how to safely remove and relocate a mother and her kits.
Recognizing the Signs of a Raccoon Invasion
A thorough understanding of raccoon behaviour and biology is essential to keeping them out of your home. Raccoon mating season begins in January and the nesting season ends in June and during this time raccoons look for den sites that are warm, dry and protected from the elements and predators, like attics and chimneys.
Raccoons are not quiet animals. You will soon know that you have a raccoon problem because you will hear them thumping around in your attic at night and once they have babies you will hear the kits squealing and chattering. You will also see tell-tale paw prints and scraps of food around your property.
With more than 20 years in the wildlife control business, our Skedaddle technicians know how to handle raccoons. The first step is to do a thorough inspection of your property to identify all raccoon entry points. We will then safely and humanely remove the mother and babies. We will chase the mother out of the attic, then place the babies in a heated baby box and leave the box outside where the mother can be reunited with her kits and relocate them to an alternate den site. Once we are certain that there are no raccoons left in the attic our technicians will secure any entry points. We will then repair and deodorize your attic to eliminate the scent and prevent other raccoons in the area being attracted to your home. Call Skedaddle today for expert advice on raccoon removal.