Wildlife Issues – How to Get Rid of Raccoons
Raccoons, sometimes referred to as “masked bandits”, are often admired for their intelligence and their ingenuity. But these traits also make them quite destructive to homes and businesses. Racoon damage can be costly and their average weight is 12 to 20 lbs. (5.5 to 9 kg.) which makes it difficult to get rid of raccoons. Because of their size and intelligence they should be dealt with very carefully.
Raccoon Damage to Properties
Raccoons most often like to make dens in chimneys, roofs and attics, especially over bedrooms where it tends to be quieter. They are nocturnal (i.e. active at night), making them quite a nuisance when homeowners are trying to sleep.
FACT: Raccoons have very manipulative paws, which means they can open jars, garbage cans and even door latches. They are also quite strong and will rip up shingles, soffit, flashings and aluminium.
Mother raccoons will do just about anything to get to their young if separated and will also try very hard to get back into a den site. The babies (kits) can also be quite curious and destructive once they are mobile.
FACT: The mother instinct in raccoons is very strong and they will cause major damage if separated from their young.
Raccoons will chew through electrical wires to clear access to a den site
FACT: Frayed wires pose a serious fire hazard, especially if close to flammable materials like wood or insulation.
Health Risks from Raccoons
The first case of raccoon rabies was found in Eastern Ontario in 1999 and it has since spread to other parts of Ontario and Quebec.
FACT: Raccoons infected with rabies often cannot be distinguished from healthy ones. Rabies is transmitted through saliva from the infected raccoon to humans and pets, often through a bite.
Raccoon feces are commonly infected with a roundworm known as Baylisascaris. If the eggs are ingested by humans, they can cause nausea, organ malfunction, blindness, loss of muscle control and even death. Extreme caution is advised to avoid any contact during efforts to get rid of raccoons.
FACT: The roundworm eggs are extremely resilient and can be easily transmitted through water runoff, soil and building materials to surrounding areas.
How to Find Raccoons
Raccoons emit a large number of vocalizations and prefer to build dens in warm, dry locations. They are very active animals and will scurry around attics, chimneys and roofs, usually at night. Feces and fur are often found at the entry point and there can be a strong odour detected.
FACT: Raccoons are able to gain entry through just about any common building material (e.g. wood, soffit, aluminium, shingles and flashings). On average, there are 10-25 raccoons per square kilometre in urban areas.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
Determining how to remove raccoons from property is difficult: simply patching the entry hole doesn’t work. They will rip it open to regain entry or find their young.
FACT: The most effective method is to remove all the raccoons and completely seal the entire building from further entry.
Killing or capturing the adult likely won’t solve the problem, since the babies may still be living in the attic, chimney, walls or roof.
FACT: Raccoons usually produce 5-6 babies per year from early spring to late summer. The young become very vocal upon birth and are mobile around six weeks of age. Raccoon damage in residential areas, where raccoons usually have 5-6 den sites, is common.