Do Raccoons Hibernate?

By Chris Williams on November 17, 2014.

We’ve seen a raccoon in our yard on occasion. What do raccoons do in the fall? Will it leave our yard and hibernate somewhere for the winter? M. R., Stowe, MA

raccoon walking in snowContrary to popular belief, raccoons don’t actually hibernate. They do hunker down, however, when the weather gets cold. But before that happens, they will eat as much as they can to accumulate fat and their coats will get thicker for cold protection.

In fall, raccoons can be especially pestiferous as they hunt for food, turning over garbage cans and digging up lawns looking for grubs. This is a good time to trap out raccoons in your yard, before they settle into their dens and before young are born.

Every Raccoon Needs a Cozy Den

Raccoons den in rock crevices, ground burrows, under brush piles, inside hollow trees, and sometimes in chimneys or attics. Raccoons are territorial with a range of 1 to 2 square miles, but a single coon can have multiple dens within its home range. In fall, young raccoons that were born the previous year will leave their mother’s den and find dens of their own.

Once they’re in their winter den, raccoons don’t usually leave, even to eat, for a few of the coldest weeks, although they sometimes become active during winter warm spells. Raccoons mate in mid to late winter, January to March in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Most babies are born in April and May.

Have a Professional Remove That Raccoon

If you think raccoons are cute and not really a problem, you need to know that besides all the havoc they can wreak around your home (see Raccoons Can Cause Some Serious Damage), they can also spread roundworm and rabies to people (see Why You Don’t Want Raccoons Around Your Property). At Colonial, we are experts in nuisance wildlife removal. We’ve been doing it for 30 years. Our wildlife management technicians are fully licensed to do the job. Give us a call.

Photo credit: David~O / Foter / CC BY


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