The Raccoon is a mammal that inhabits most areas of the United States as well as around the world.  Commonly recognized by the black mask covering their eyes and their ring-striped tail, Raccoons average in size between 12-28 inches, but can grow to 36 inches.  Though endeared by Americans as part of our nation’s diverse wildlife population, they can be very destructive and problematic when they scavenge for food in trash areas and build nests within the walls of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Raccoon Behavior

The most common species of Raccoon found in the United States has grayish brown fur and a ring-striped tail with alternating colors of black and gray-brown.  The black furry rings around its eyes are separated by a white and gray vertical stripe down the center of its nose. A raccoon’s hind legs are also longer its front, which makes them look hunched over when they walk or run.

Raccoons have great dexterity with five “fingers” on their front paws that allow them to grasp and manipulate food and other objects (like doorknobs, jars and latches). They are also amazing problem solvers and known for their problem solving capabilities.  A Raccoon’s memory allows it to memorize steps and solutions to a task for up to 3 years. They are also good swimmers and can use their front paws to manipulate and inspect objects underwater.

Raccoons are omnivores.  In their natural ecosystem they feed on berries, fruits, insects, small rodents, and eggs. When interfaced with human environments, they become scavengers, searching for food in the waste and refuse areas of residential, commercial, and industrial properties.

Raccoons as a Pest

  • Once a raccoon finds a food source, it will return night after night to feed. They can be extremely destructive to trash and refuse areas, tearing them up nightly in search of food unless they are properly secured.
  • Like all mammals, Raccoons are nesters and will seek shelter inside your structures to build their nests and reproduce.  This can make them very destructive to areas like crawlspaces, attics, etc.  If a raccoon infestation goes undetected or unresolved for too long it can lead to thousands of dollars in restoration costs to these areas.
  • Raccoons can be aggressive and have been known to attack when threatened. They can be especially vicious towards house pets like dogs and cats.
  • Health Hazards – In addition to the hazards created by their fecal material and waste, Raccoons have been known to carry rabies, roundworm, and trichinosis.

Raccoon Prevention

Here are some ways to avoid having a raccoon infestation.

  • Use durable, sealable containers for your trash and refuse that raccoons cannot claw/chew through or open.
  • Keep trash and refuse as secure as you possibly can.
  • Inspect your property frequently for holes, loose concrete, or small openings where raccoons can gain access to your structure.
  • Keep tree limbs, shrubs, and other growing things away from your structure.  Make sure they do not provide a path of access to your roof, windows, or other openings.
  • Inspect your crawlspace frequently.