SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A RESIDENT RACCOON?
By Chris Williams on March 30, 2017.
I believe we have a raccoon living in our yard but we haven’t figured out where. Almost every evening we see it making the rounds in the back. Where do they nest? What should we look for? F. H., Melrose, MA
It’s possible that the raccoon is just visiting your yard as one stop on its large foraging route, but at this time of year, it could easily be a female who is setting up a den prior to giving birth.
Raccoons are totally adapted to living around people and their denning sites reflect that. Den sites are extremely variable and include tree cavities or hollow logs, rock crevices, abandoned burrows, brush piles, culverts, storm sewers, sheds or barns, underneath decks, even in abandoned autos. The female may have a central den and a couple of spare dens in her home range of about a mile. Females also sometimes den together, but males always den alone.
RACCOONS WILL DEN IN HOUSES, TOO
In homes, raccoons can den in chimneys, crawlspaces, and attics. If you have a raccoon sharing your home, you will know it—they’re not quiet. They can also do some damage to gutters, soffits, roofs, and vents as they attempt to get into attics, and to insulation and other items once inside.
Raccoons tend to defecate in communal “latrine” sites. Living near raccoon dens and their latrines can be a health hazard since people (usually children) can become infected with raccoon roundworm as a result of contact with raccoon feces (see Take Steps to Discourage Raccoons on Your Property). And, with raccoons, there is always a remote risk of rabies.
DISCOURAGE THAT FEMALE BEFORE BABIES ARRIVE
In our region (Massachusetts and New Hampshire), 3 to 5 young are usually born in April or May, with a few late bloomers giving birth in summer. If you have a raccoon setting up a nesting den, you probably want to have her removed well before the young are born since they aren’t weaned for 2 to 4 months, and can remain in the den for the rest of the summer. (see Have Raccoons Removed Before the Young are Born). If the raccoon is nesting in your attic or chimney, you definitely don’t want to live with the mess, odor, and disease risk for months.
Give Colonial Pest a call. We are trained and certified in nuisance wildlife management with many years of experience in dealing with nuisance raccoons. You probably have a resident, or visiting, raccoon for a reason. You may be unknowingly supplying food that attracts them (see Manage Your Garbage to Discourage Raccoons and Other Wildlife).