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Raccoons are Smart – Making Your Home Vulnerable to Invasion

If you have ever had your garbage bin broken into by raccoons, even after several attempts to lock it up, you know how smart and persistent raccoons can be. It seems that the more obstacles you throw in their way, the smarter they get, a testament to this is their ever increasing populations in urban environments.

Raccoons being so intelligent can cause real problems and challenges for homeowners trying to keep their homes raccoon free.

Here are 5 examples of raccoon’s intelligence:

1: They maintain multiple den sites. Raccoons have been known to maintain multiple dens sites in a residential area. Outside of the breeding season, raccoons will change denning locations on an almost nightly basis. They do this to have a backup plan and a place to go if one den site becomes unsafe or is blocked off. This is why trapping and relocating is so ineffective; the raccoon den site (or your attic or chimney!) will simply become occupied by another invading raccoon.

2: Raccoons can solve and remember complex problems and challenges. A series of important behavioral studies was conducted in the early 1900s on raccoon intelligence and cognitive abilities. The results were published in 1907s in The American Journal of Psychology by ethologist H.B. Davis. The study found that the raccoons eventually learned how to operate 11 of the 13 lock types that Davis tried. Most of them mastered each lock type in fewer than ten trials, and had no problem learning to reverse their actions (such as if the latch had to be shifted left instead of right), or to memorize the order in which multiple locks had to be operated upon. After waiting more than a year between experiments with no practice, the raccoons immediately remembered how to operate individual locks, and only required a quick refresher to remember how to deal with the combinations. Subsequent experiments suggested that raccoons could remember the solutions to these sorts of problem solving tasks for more than three years.

This study is a perfect example of why you should have a professional wildlife exclusion company to your home if you are having a raccoon problem. As shown in the study, raccoons are exceptionally bright, so any DIY attempts to patch entry areas are easily overcome.

DIY spray foam to block raccoon access

A homeowner tried to DIY using spray foam to block the access, but the raccoons easily ripped and chewed past it.

At Skedaddle, we have been dealing with raccoons for over 27 years, so we are experienced it knowing the right techniques and tools to outsmart them and secure your home against invasion.

Opened roof vent

Your roof vent is easily pried open by raccoons.

3: Raccoons have outsmarted their #1 predator- cars. A 2012 documentary called “Raccoon Nation” tracked raccoons by GPS. They discovered raccoons are smart enough to avoid crossing major streets and roads to stay stay clear of traffic and usually limit their range to under a mile. The raccoons were observed to be able to understand the flow and direction of traffic, turning their heads to watch for oncoming traffic. Other methods raccoons use to avoid being hit by vehicles, is the use of culverts. Culverts are intended to channel water under a highway but it turns out that raccoons have figured out how to exploit such man-made structures to avoid becoming roadkill.

4: Raccoons populations have flourished in the face of human expansion. There are now more raccoons living in urban areas than in rural settings. In Toronto and much of southern Ontario, there are 50 times more raccoons in the city than the countryside. As omnivores, they adapt well and learn more quickly. In fact, the complex obstacles that urban environments present raccoons are accelerating their development. It seems that the more obstacles you throw in their way, the smarter they get. Researchers have noted that urban raccoons are braver and more aggressive than country raccoons, and have higher intelligence rates. Raccoons can build on their knowledge. Once they figure out one garbage can, they can generalize to another garbage can that might be slightly different.

5: Raccoons that have been caught in traps before are smart enough to avoid them later on. Raccoons have learned how to outsmart traps, showing up and raiding the trap without getting caught.

At Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, we do not trap raccoons and drive them away because it doesn’t solve the problem. Raccoon populations are dense, and if you trap and relocate one, another one will take its place. It’s also difficult to tell if you are trapping the raccoon causing problems, as there are many in one area. Trapping is inhumane, the animals undergo an immense amount of stress being trapped, and many will injure themselves badly trying to free themselves. You may also be unintentionally creating orphan raccoon babies by trapping their mom and leaving them on their own.

Raccoon trap

A raccoon managed to escape this trap by prying it open.

Able to squeeze into locked garages, open secured garbage cans, unzip tents, and pry up lids on Tupperware, urban raccoons are incredibly smart, love a challenge and are here to stay. That is why it is so important to have preventative wildlife exclusion measures installed on your home. With their populations growing every year it is only a matter of time until one tries to make its way into your attic or chimney.

If you think you have a raccoon problem, call Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control today. We specialize in raccoon removal. 1-888-592-0387.

Proudly serving: Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Cambridge and the Niagara Region.

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About the author:Founder of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control in 1989. Canada's largest urban wildlife removal and exclusion company. Industry leader and pioneer. Split, Scram, Scoot! However you want to say it, Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control has helped over 200,000 home owners and businesses safely and effectively resolve their wildlife issues. Happy to discuss business and franchising opportunities

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