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How to know if a raccoon has babies

Raccoons are incredibly adaptable animals that are completely at ease living amongst humans. For security against potential predators, raccoons prefer to make their homes above ground. With an amazing ability to climb, they easily gain access to roofs using trees, downspouts and in some cases climbing straight up walls. Using their intelligence, strength and hand-like paws, raccoons can easily gain access to almost any attic. Once inside, the protection, warmth and darkness provided by attics make them ideal raccoon den sites.

Unfortunately, once raccoons have decided to take up residence, it can be very difficult to get them out and keep them out. Removing raccoons from an attic is made especially difficult during baby season.

Your Attic is a Perfect Place to Raise Babies

A family of raccoons in an attic

A family of raccoons in an attic

Raccoon mating season varies considerably by geography. In northern climates, mating begins in January and can extend through July with the peak period occurring from February to April. Nine weeks after mating, female raccoons will give birth to a litter of one to eight babies with a typical litter containing three to five. A female raccoon gives birth once per year although in cases where a litter of babies is lost early, a second litter may be produced in its place. Male and female raccoons do not form pairs and babies are raised by their mothers.

To ensure the survival of their young, female raccoons require secure den sites. Ideal locations include: chimneys and attics as well as spaces below additions, sheds, decks and porches. The babies are almost always stashed away in places that are nearly impossible for humans to access.

A litter of baby raccoons removed from an attic

A litter of baby raccoons removed from an attic

Raccoon babies are born with their eyes closed and are capable of vocalizing almost immediately. Their constant squealing, chattering and crying is often mistaken for the song of a bird. By six weeks of age the babies will have begun to move and travel within the den site. During this time the noise and activity inside the attic usually becomes unbearable for most homeowners. Between weeks eight and twelve, they will have matured enough for their mother to take them foraging in the neighbourhood.

Juvenile raccoons will remain with their mother through autumn with males often leaving before their sisters. It is not uncommon for female raccoons to remain with their mothers through to the following spring.