Raccoons Can Cause Some Serious Damage

By Chris Williams on March 19, 2012.

If you think raccoons are cute, harmless animals, you may change your mind after reading this blog. If you’ve ever dealt with a raccoon in your home or yard, you already know what they are capable of. One reason why raccoons are able to cause so much damage is that they are very dexterous, meaning that they can use their front paws almost like hands. They can open doors, jars, and latches so it’s hard to keep them out of areas. In fact, the word “raccoon” is derived from Native American words meaning “he scratches with his hands.” Raccoons are also excellent climbers, able to scale trees, chimneys, and downspouts. Around homes, raccoons will attempt to nest in chimneys, attics, in crawlspaces, and under porches and decks.

angry-racoonDamage to Roofs: Raccoons will often use the roof to try to gain access to the house or attic. As a result, they often tear off shingles or chew holes into soffits or fascia boards. They only need to create a 4 to 6 inch diameter opening to get inside. If they find a small opening, they can enlarge it. They’ve been known to rip off rooftop ventilators to get into the attic. Tree branches that touch the roof are the main way that raccoons get onto the roof and then find or make openings to get inside.

Damage in Attics: Once inside an attic, raccoons will tear up the insulation on walls and may rip insulation off of pipes or heating and air conditioning ducts to use as nest material. Like squirrels, raccoons will chew on wires, creating a fire hazard.

Raccoons will likely use one area of the attic as a group latrine, sometimes causing the ceiling below to become stained with urine. Raccoon feces can contain roundworms that can be transmitted to people. You should take special precautions if you have to clean up a raccoon bathroom site. Raccoon ectoparasites such as mites and fleas can move from the attic into living areas. Raccoon latrines in attics smell and raccoons that die in attics smell even worse.

Damage to Garbage Cans: Raccoons and garbage go together and trying to keep raccoons out of garbage cans is a common battle. They’re strong enough to knock over even a metal can. Then they use those dexterous paws to pry the lid off to get to the food inside. If it’s a plastic garbage can, they will simply chew through it.

Damage to Lawns and Gardens: Raccoons are one of the main animal pests of home vegetable gardens. They will steal produce and will even hollow out melons, scraping out the flesh with a paw. Sweet corn is a favorite and they will climb the stalks to peel back husks, usually eating only part of an ear. In lawns, they will roll up or shred the sod as they search for grubs and other soil insects. Raccoons are notorious for raiding and damaging bird feeders.

Damage to Pets and Farm Animals:Cute little raccoons quickly become not so cute when they attack your pet. This usually happens in a confrontation over pet food that is left outside.  Be especially wary of any raccoon that is acting aggressive since raccoons do carry rabies and aggression is one of the symptoms of the disease. In rural areas, raccoons will raid chicken houses and can maul or kill adult chickens, usually by biting off their heads. They will open one end of a chicken’s egg  and lick out the contents. Raccoons will also prey on birds nesting in nest boxes such as bluebirds and wood ducks.

If raccoons are causing damage to your home or yard, you need to contact a company, like Colonial, that specializes in control of nuisance wildlife. A professional can live-trap and remove raccoons that have made your home their home. An important part of raccoon control is pest-proofing of your home to seal openings and access points that raccoons can use to get inside. We do that, too. Give us a call.


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