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Living with Raccoons

raccoonsWe've all seen their cute faces in our yards or getting into garbage cans. With their highly curious nature and dexterous hands, raccoons make ingenious and clever garbage can thieves. The only long-term, permanent means of coping with troublesome raccoons is to exclude them from areas where they are unwanted. Raccoons are intelligent animals with routines that are dictated by their needs; if they cannot get a meal at one place they will look elsewhere, and they will remember where they can and cannot expect to have their hunger satisfied.

Habitat modification and exclusion must be the principal line of defense against nuisance wildlife problems. This can be done by preventing access to human dwellings, reducing shelter and food sources.

  • Bring all domestic food indoors at night. If you feed your dogs and cats outside, bring the food in every night.

  • Secure all pet doors at night. Raccoons are very curious and will enter houses through these doors for a free meal.

  • Secure garbage can lids or keep them in a shed or garage until the morning of pick-up.

  • raccoon Rig the can or area around it with an alarm that uses a light, noise, or even water to chase raccoons away.

  • Use a repellant on or inside the can.
Raccoons will use uncapped chimneys for denning and to give birth and raise young. Driving an animal out of a chimney during the day should be avoided. Making the chimney an unsuitable site for denning is fairly easy. Playing a radio in the fireplace, or shining a bright light into the chimney will usually encourage the raccoon to seek shelter elsewhere. if babies are present, you might want to wait until they are 4 to 5 weeks old before trying to encourage the mother to relocate them. Too much disturbance may lead to her abandoning the young.

Attics are also a favorite place for denning and nesting raccoons. Inspect the attic to see where the raccoons gain access. If they have no young, you can seal up the opening when the animal leaves at night on its rounds.

Important note: raccoons carry a roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) that can infect humans who accidentally ingest or inhale eggs that are passed through raccoon feces. Wherever a raccoon has been in residence and feces raccoon(scat) have accumulated, take care to avoid exposure to the eggs of the roundworm. Wear protective clothing and a dust mask. Try not to disturb any scat material until the raccoon has left. Then a thorough clean-up is recommended by using a 1:30 solution of household bleach, while not destroying eggs, it will help to remove the protective coat on them that makes them sticky enough to adhere to most surfaces. After that mechanical removal through washing and flushing should be easier.

Many situations are unique. Call us for more advice at (206) 855-9057.

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