Our mountain community offers diverse wildlife to enjoy. As we encroach on their homes, we need to understand how to deal with problems we may cause the animal wildlife. See below for information on common wildlife problems and how to solve them. Note that all wildlife are protected by local, state, and federal regulations. It is unlawful to keep indigenous animals as pets.
Click here for information on Squirrels and Skunks.
Most weight between 15 to 60 lbs. and are 2-3 feet in length from the nose to the tip of the tail. They are black or pale brown and all have a ringed tail and a face mask. Raccoons give birth to 1 litter between March and June. There are anywhere from 1 to 7 young, and they will be weaned at 2 months. Raccoons eat fruits, vegetables, pet food, nuts, fish, birds, mice, corn, grapes, and insects.
Raccoons are not vicious or aggressive. They are defensive. They are highly intelligent with great manual dexterity and strength. Raccoons decrease their activity during the winter, but do not exhibit hibernation. They prefer woodlands, but can also thrive on grasslands with water sources and shelter. Dens are made in tree cavities, chimneys, attics, storm sewers, crawl spaces under buildings, etc.
Public Health Issues
Do not handle raccoons! They can be carriers of rabies and canine/feline distemper. Raccoons may have a roundworm that can infect humans who accidentally ingest or inhale eggs that are passed through raccoon feces. They may also be hosts for leptospirosis and giardiasis. Take responsibility for your family's and pet's health by preventing contact with wildlife and keeping their vaccinations up to date.
What Attracts Raccoons to a Residence?
Inspect attic to determine where access is occurring. If the raccoon is present, encourage it to leave by increasing activity, turning on/off lights and radios. In small attics, place ammonia rags at night to encourage them to leave. In large attics, make a tight ball with rags and thoroughly soak them in a closed container for hours. The fumes have to be very strong. If young are present, it is best to wait a few weeks until they are old enough to leave by themselves. Once raccoon has left, seal area permanently with hardware cloth. Inspect outside area for tree limbs providing access to your roof. Trim any limbs hanging over/near your house.
Raccoons in the House
They can cause damage when frightened. Quietly open doors and windows allowing the animal to escape to the outdoors. Close any doors providing access to other parts of the house. Wait until raccoon leaves.
Raccoons in the Chimney
It is assumed that the raccoon is trapped in the chimney unless there is clear evidence that it can climb in & out on its own. Such evidence would be direct observation, nesting materials, or babies in the chimney. Do Not try to smoke a raccoon out of the chimney. Dead animals create a stench in the house which will be far worse than a live raccoon in the chimney.
If the raccoon is not trapped inside the chimney proceed with the following steps at dusk:
1. Thoroughly inspect inside and outside of chimney to find the opening.
2. Try to locate presence of babies.
3. If no young are present, at dusk try to frighten the adult out by banging pots inside the fireplace and wait until all have left.
4. Open the flue slightly, and place a bowl of ammonia on top of an overturned bucket in the firebox. They are more likely to leave during the night.
5. If young are present it is best to wait until they are able to leave by themselves (usually only 6-8 weeks).
6. Seal up the opening and any weak spots with 1/2 inch wire or sheet metal. Extend metal 6 inches beyond opening.
7. You may want to apply the mammal repellent mixture around the covered opening. The mixture may stain, but it is effective.
8. You also need to cap the chimney after raccoons have left.
If the raccoon is trapped inside the chimney proceed with the following steps at dusk:
1. Tie a 1/2 inch thick rope to the top of the chimney & lower it down through the chimney. Make sure the rope reaches the flue damper.
2. Place a bowl of ammonia on top of an overturned bucket in the firebox.
3. Open flue slightly to allow smell to rise up.
4. The raccoon will climb up the rope and escape.
5. Remove rope & bowl of ammonia.
6. Screen chimney with 1/2 inch mesh hardware wire or a commercially made cap.
Raccoons in the Garage
The best solution is to store garbage in a garage or shed. This will quickly encourage them to give up their visits. If the garbage needs to be stored outside, secure the lids with rubber tie downs and/or place weights on the lids to prevent a successful meal. As a last resort, put an inch of ammonia in the bottom of the bin or tie rags soaked in ammonia around the cans. Keep dumpsters closed and the area surrounding the dumpsters clean.
Raccoons in Ponds
Raccoons are very attracted to water. Excluding them from these areas will provide the only success. Use an electric fence, high voltage, low amperage (Fido Shock is safe for dogs and wildlife, available at Petsmart). For small ponds, build a wooden frame to cover the area. Cover with 1 x 2, welded wire. Secure it to the ground.
Raccoons in Gardens
Excluding raccoons from your garden is your only hope. But you can also try the following:
1. Use an electric fence, high voltage, low amperage (Fido Shock is safe for dogs & wildlife, available at Petsmart). Three strands: lowest strand 6", highest strand 2 1/2 ft. above ground.
2. Spread a wide border of lime around your garden.
3. Plant cucumbers among your other plants. (They hate cucumbers!)
4. When fruit and vegetables first appear, spray the mammal repellent on them. Wash before human consumption.
Raccoons and Domestic Animals
Pets such as dogs and cats should not be let out unsupervised and preferably need to be kept on a leash and controlled. When rabbits or other small animals are housed outdoors, proper protection is absolutely necessary. If possible, pets should be brought into the house or a secure outbuilding at night to avoid any chance of raccoon attacks.
The only permanent means of coping with troublesome raccoons is to exclude them from the areas in which they are not welcomed. Capping chimneys and securing garbage can lids can convince raccoons to look elsewhere for a meal or den site.
Trapping and Relocating Raccoons
We discourage the use of live traps to relocate raccoons. Relocating individual raccoons away from their home range without altering the habitat is merely a short term solution. Relocating animals will cause more long term problems for the homeowner by actually increasing the local population. By removing existing raccoons you invite others to come in and compete for the new resources created by the available territory, resulting in more raccoons than you had before in a relatively short period of time.
Due to increased resources, litter size tends to increase as well. If a raccoon is removed from a habitat, other types of animals requiring the same resources as raccoons (for example, skunks) may increase to take advantage of the increased food/resource availability.