The famous masked midnight thief with the stripped bushy tail, stocky body and the greedy, grasping paws. These opportunistic nocturnal omnivores are adaptable to many habitats and are found from marshes and swampland to the tree line of the tundra’s. They are typically found near a water source and need some type of den site (hollow tree, logs, rock crevices, caves) and when none of these natural elements are available then manmade structures (under decks and porches, in roofs, under shed, in drainage culverts, in chimneys, etc.)
RACCOON BIOLOGY: (Procyon lotor) Adults range from 10 lbs on up, with some reaching over 40lbs. They can live up to 12 years in the wild; however the average lifespan is 5-6 years. The females mate during the winter, usually in December to February, and give birth in early spring (April or May depending on how late she mated.) The average numbers of kits are 3 -5 with as many as 8 in a litter. They are tricial (eyes and ears open) about 20 days after birth, teeth begin to erupt at 1 month, walking and climbing at 5 weeks, begin following their mother out foraging at 8 weeks, and are weaned at 3 months old. These ages are important to know because if an adult female is captured from April on one must determine if she has had a litter this year, if she is lactating and immediately retrieve the kits from the den site so they are not abandoned to die, resulting in carcass removal, clean out and odor control. The female raises the kits alone and between 9 to 12 weeks they will move out of the den site; either driven out either my size restriction of the den site or the heat of the summer . The kits will disperse in the fall and early winter. In some instances the yearling female will stay with the adult female through the first winter and will not disperse until the female juveniles first mating. Male groups are most likely siblings as adults are usually solitary unless sharing a winter den site. Fighting increases in the spring as mating season approaches and mutual avoidance and solitary living will begin again. Mortality in raccoons can be attributed to humans, predators and starvation. Few raccoons live past their second year. It is estimated that 1 in 100 live to the age of 7 and an estimated population turnover time is 7.4 years. Adult mortality is 56% and yearling mortality is 60%, which gives the total population a 50% survival rate.
PREDATORS: Mountain Lions, bobcats, wolves, foxes and the Great Horned Owl.
Rabies — a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. — Colorado Center for Disease Control
Colorado Zoonosis Rabies Control Website
Canine Distemper — Next to humans, the second leading cause of death of raccoons is distemper. Raccoons are susceptible to infection by both canine and feline distemper. Although they both can cause acute illness and death, they are caused by two completely different viruses. — Raccoon World
Parasites — Raccoons harbor a wide variety of parasites the greatest concern of which is Round worm.
Colorado Division of Wildlife
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Raccoon World – Distemper
RACCOON BEHAVIOR: They are very common animals; particularly in urban areas, are excellent climbers, have very nimble hands, very strong, and often tear into areas open in search of food and shelter; they love to den in attics.
NUISANCE CONCERNS: Raccoons are one of the most commonly dealt with nuisance animals. They have adapted to living with humans. They have learned that garbage cans and dumpsters are excellent sources of food, and that houses are excellent habitat. These are all reasons to remove them from your home.
- Raccoons living in the roof, dormers, attics and chimneys
- Tipping over garbage cans, living in dumpsters
- Stealing pet food or bird seed
- Entering your home through your dog/cat door
- Sick, potentially rabid raccoon
- Alarming dogs/pets as they pass
REMOVAL OF RACCOONS: The most effective method is to capture and remove the animal, we recommended that you hire a professional to do this as they are knowledgeable about the behaviors, diseases and the most efficient way to remove the raccoons. The use of mothballs, urine based repellants high pitched ultrasonic noisemakers, bright strobe lights and loud music are all ineffective. There are no registered raccoon repellants on the market that we have found effective.
EXCLUSION AND DAMAGE RESTORATION: This is the most important step in the process of alleviating the problem. If the raccoons are removed but the area is not cleaned out the left behind feces, debris, and potential parasites will mark the house and the smell will alert other animals that this location is a potential den site. If the hole is not closed and all other susceptible spots closed off to prevent future access you will be facing the same problem down the road. Once a raccoons find good den site especially if a female she will return to have her young year after year.