Nextgen Pest Solutions is a raccoon removal company providing same-day service in Georgia and Florida. We trap and remove all raccoons and provide home and commercial sealing/exclusion services to prevent raccoons from returning. We warranty all of our work and offer a renewable yearly warranty if you would like to have continued permanent raccoon control. Call now for a free quote or to schedule an inspection.
Raccoons are intelligent and clever members of the Procyonidae family. Raccoons are found all around the world and have increased in numbers as human populations have expanded. Despite their admirable abilities, they have often been considered a nuisance when their interests collide with humans. For this reason, it is important to learn how to get rid of raccoons. Raccoons have five extremely sensitive fingers which allow them to grasp objects with one hand and manipulate the object in their hands. This allows them to open any cooler in a campground, get into your house, and break into nearly any garbage can they desire.
The English word raccoon is derived from the Powhatan word aroughcun, which means, an animal that scratches with its hands. The Spanish word for raccoon, mapache, comes from the Aztec word mapachitli, which means, one who takes everything in its hands. With dexterity in their hands and clever problem-solving ability, the man vs nature conflict surrounding raccoons and humans is a story as old as time.
Raccoons weigh between 4-23 pounds. They are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In the wild raccoons prefer to eat their meals foods such as crayfish, frogs, and shellfish such as oysters and clams. If they come across a backyard garden, they will happily help themselves to the bounty. Raccoons are generally thought to be a problem in more rural areas, but raccoons are thriving in big cities. Raccoons have become seasoned city-dwellers, feasting on garbage left in the streets and nesting in our homes and businesses. Brooklyn in particular has seen an explosion in raccoon populations in recent years. An experiment conducted in Toronto placed GPS collars on raccoons in the city. They learned that urban raccoons avoided the busiest intersections and could open trash cans better than their rural counterparts.
Raccoons in your House
With raccoon populations continuing to increase, the conflict between people and raccoons will increase as well. If you have a raccoon in your home you should take immediate action to get the nuisance raccoon out of your home and the area cleaned and disinfected. There are stories all over the internet of raccoons coming into homes and wreaking all sorts of havoc from tearing apart furniture to eating pet and human food. However, the problem is more difficult to diagnose if they discretely enter your chimney or attic to give birth.
Raccoon nesting season is usually in spring with the peak time for birth in March. In nature, raccoons look for a hollow tree in which to birth and raise their young; your uncapped chimney or attic provides a similarly cozy, warm, and safe spot for rearing young raccoons. The elevated space of your attic protects the kits (baby raccoons) from predators. After birth, raccoons are nursed by their mother for about 10-12 weeks. Baby raccoons will not leave the nest and forage on their own until they are about 3 months old.
Signs that Nuisance Raccoons have Invaded
Raccoons are fairly large animals and they are not particularly graceful or quiet. Generally, you will first be alerted to a raccoon issue when you hear scurrying and scratching coming from your attic at night. As the mama raccoon builds her nest, you will hear bumping, thumping, and wrestling. Many homeowners also observe visible damage to the entry area. Again, because of their strong hands, raccoons can peel back or bend siding, soffit, and roof vents, and manipulate and tear many building materials. The maternal instinct that draws them to these spaces is powerful, and raccoons are very caring and attentive mothers.
You also may hear the chirping, or crying, of baby raccoons. Just like human babies, kits are quite vocal during their first few months of life. Of course, to know for sure if raccoons are nesting in your attic, you need visual confirmation. You may watch a raccoon climb the exterior of your house and enter through a soffit, or you may pop your head into the attic and nose around yourself. Once raccoons are confirmed, you need to act quickly to limit the damage to your home.
Damage and Danger Caused by Raccoons
As discussed above, raccoons usually enter homes to nest, but they don’t build a tidy little nest out of twigs like a bird. Raccoons clumsily leave evidence of their presence everywhere they go. Raccoons can be destructive and cause damage and disease even after they are removed from your home.
Raccoon Feces and Odor
As raccoons travel through your attic, they allow their feces to accumulate… and raccoon droppings are large. Raccoons usually reserve an area near the nest to be used as a latrine. The urine from this latrine will saturate insulation, drywall, and wood with urine often causing the need for these materials to be removed and replaced in only a matter of weeks. It will also infect your attic insulation with disease-causing microorganisms and a putrid odor.
Not only does this latrine create an extremely foul odor it is a breeding ground for dangerous diseases. Roundworm eggs are passed in the feces of infected raccoons and people can become sick by ingesting these eggs. There are cases of children becoming very ill with Bayliscacaris procyonis, or raccoon roundworm, after contacting raccoon poop in a sandbox. This parasite invades the lungs, eyes, brain, and liver and can leave permanent brain damage or even cause death. Raccoon droppings are particularly dangerous when found in large quantities in a confined area like your attic.
Raccoon Damage to Ductwork and Electrical
In an attempt to find the perfect nesting spot, raccoons often tear apart AC ducts and crawl inside. Sometimes raccoons die in the AC Ducts which causes the dreadful odor to circulate through your home. If raccoons have damaged your ductwork, you will have to call in an HVAC contractor to repair or replace the damage. If the damage to ducts is allowed to remain, the holes will allow cold or hot air to escape which will significantly increase your energy costs.
Usually, damage to electrical wires in the attic is attributed to rodents (rats, mice, or squirrels) because of their insatiable need to gnaw. However, raccoons do gnaw and damage wires in attics that they inhabit. If a wire is creating a boundary or in the raccoons’ way, they will certainly chew through it with their strong jaws. Raccoons’ long, hard nails can also cause damage to wires that are along their route. Any frayed or damaged wire is a fire hazard and should be replaced by a licensed electrician after the raccoons have been removed.
Diseases Carried by Raccoons
Rabies is probably the first disease you think of when you think of raccoons. Raccoons are considered a primary vector of rabies as raccoons suffer from rabies more than any other mammal in the United States. A raccoon infected with rabies will usually die in 1-3 days.
A rabid raccoon will often exhibit bizarre behavior such as:
Staggering or wandering, uncoordinated, or paralysis of the legs
Appearing in daylight hours
Unaffected by noise or movement nearby; not afraid of people and other animals
Discharge from eyes or foam at the mouth
Wet and matted hair on its face
Never approach a raccoon displaying any of these symptoms. Call a professional wildlife trapper to remove any such raccoon and seek immediate medical attention if a raccoon bites or scratches you.
Canine Distemper is another disease carried by raccoons. This disease cannot be transmitted to humans, but it can be passed to unvaccinated dogs. The symptoms of canine distemper are similar to rabies and it is usually fatal.
The third disease associated with raccoons is the parasite bayliscacaris procyonis, or raccoon roundworm. The eggs of the roundworm are found in raccoon fecal matter. Infection occurs when feces containing the eggs are ingested. Once ingested the larvae travel to the brain, eye, and other organs ultimately causing neurological damage and sometimes death. The CDC believes that this disease is under-reported as human exposure to raccoons is increasing and there is no commercially available serological test for raccoon roundworm.
How to Get Raccoons Out of your Home
For all of the reasons mentioned above, you simply must invest the time and resources to remove the raccoons from your home, seal up any possible entry holes, and clean and disinfect the raccoon nesting area. Professional nuisance wildlife trappers are knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with raccoons. They are familiar with raccoon behavior and instincts. They have the tools and fortitude to humanely remove raccoons from your home. State and Local rules vary when dealing with raccoons. Since raccoons are known rabies carriers, many localities do not allow raccoon relocation. Once a raccoon is trapped, he must be handled humanely, respectfully, and within the confines of the law.
Removing Baby Raccoons from the Nest
When removing raccoons from an attic or chimney, you must be aware of the young. If you trap the mother and seal up the attic, the helpless, immobile young will die in the attic compounding your problems. To avoid starvation, the kits, or baby raccoons, must be located and hand removed from the nest. This project is not to be taken lightly, remember, there may be a mamma raccoon nearby and you are about to commit the unforgivable to any mother. To avoid a confrontation, try to time this “kit napping” while the mother raccoon is out foraging for food. Wear thick protective gloves and a HEPA filter mask and begin your journey through the attic. Also, if you proceed to seal all openings of the attic trapping the kits inside while the mother raccoon is away, her maternal instincts will drive her to find a NEW way inside. This often causes thousands of dollars of new damage as she rips down soffits or chews holes in roofs or siding.
A mother raccoon often stashes her young in tight corners, down a wall, or a soffit. Carefully traverse the attic walking only on the beams so you don’t fall through the ceiling! Once you locate the nest, gently place the raccoons in a pillowcase or similar sac and carry them out of the attic. You should expect to find 3-5 babies in the nest. Many homeowners find this task beyond their Do-It-Yourself ability. There is no shame in hiring a professional raccoon trapper to fight this battle for you.
Trapping a Raccoon
Once you are certain you have removed the babies, it is time to set your sights on the mother raccoon. There are many different types of traps available. The most common type of trap for trapping raccoons is a live cage trap. Live cage traps are rectangular metal cages available in different sizes and with either one door or two doors. The raccoon is lured into the trap with bait. When the raccoon steps on the trip pan the cage door slams shut and the animal is trapped inside alive. Your professional wildlife trapper will have the appropriate trap for the job. If you choose to do the trapping yourself, make sure your trap is large enough for a raccoon and then choose the best trap for the situation. Traps should be placed at least once per day. It is inhumane to allow a raccoon to starve to death inside a trap.
We usually don’t recommend trying to trap the mother raccoon inside the attic. If you can ascertain where she is coming and going from, you can easily and effectively set the trap on the ground near where she is climbing up, or on the roof near the attic entry point. Be sure to place the trap in the raccoons’ direct line of travel. If you have removed babies from the nest, some trappers use them as “bait.” A mother raccoon will walk right into a trap if she thinks she can rescue her baby. If you would rather, you may use sweet fruit like watermelon, pet food, bread, vegetables, or marshmallows bait; raccoons will eat almost anything. Be mindful though, meat-based baits may trap unwanted critters, like the neighbor’s cat or skunks! You should leave a trail of bait leading into the cage with a larger pile of bait in the back of the trap behind the trip pan.
Know your local and state laws for relocation or euthanasia of a trapped raccoon. If it is legal in your area to relocate trapped raccoons, you should take it at least 5 miles away or it will track its way back to you. Some areas allow for releasing a trapped animal on the same property. So long as you seal entry holes well, this can be a viable raccoon option.
The exact placement of traps and bait used to remove raccoons is determined by the exact scenario. For example, if you have a raccoon in a chimney, there is a specific chimney raccoon trap that is placed above the chimney flue. The young raccoons will still have to be hand removed from the chimney using a mirror. If a trap is placed in too general of a location, you can’t know that you caught the nuisance raccoon. If a trap is placed in too specific of a location, such as in the attic right where the babies were located, the raccoon may not enter the trap. The training and experience of a Nuisance Wildlife Officer are invaluable at solving a raccoon problem quickly, humanely, with as little interference to the natural ecosystem as possible.
Removing Dead Raccoons
Unfortunately, death is a part of life. Sometimes, you just don’t know that animals are living in your attic until that unmistakable odor of death starts to permeate your home. Depending on the size and quantity of decaying animals, the odor can last for months and even cause people to abandon their homes for a period of time. Dead animals can be extremely tricky to remove. They often purposely find an out-of-the-way hole in which to pass. Often raccoons or rats will die inside of walls or under attic insulation or ductwork. If they can be located and removed without causing damage to your property, we at Nextgen Pest Solutions will gladly provide you with that service. However, people have intentionally created a lot of damage to their homes looking for a raccoon or rat carcass. Anything to be rid of the smell and the flies! We urge caution though; before engaging the sledgehammer technique to evaluate the costs and benefits of the destruction.
Attic Clean-Up After Raccoons
As discussed above, raccoons’ habit of using one particular area as a latrine creates an accumulation of filth in your attic. If the raccoon has been nesting in your home for a while, the urine and feces will have accumulated to the degree that sanitization and odor elimination will need to be performed. Raccoon urine and feces will likely be soaked into the drywall, insulation, and wood which will need to be removed and replaced. Raccoon feces contain roundworm eggs that when ingested by humans can be very dangerous. Most professional Nuisance Wildlife Control Officers offer attic cleanup and restoration services.
Nuisance Raccoons Outdoors
The majority of this article has discussed the problems associated with raccoons nesting in your attic or chimney. Raccoons can also cause problems outdoors. Gardeners battle raccoons for the bounty from their gardens. Once raccoons have located your blueberry patch, they will feast nightly! Consider installing a fence around the garden or fruit bushes/trees. Raccoons can also dig small holes throughout a lawn searching for grubs to eat. Of course, raccoons and garbage cans go together like peanut butter and jelly. Ensure all garbage cans have secure lids. Remember the dexterity of the raccoons’ hands. If a bungee cord attaching the lid to the garbage can doesn’t slow the raccoon down, check Youtube for some creative garbage can solutions! It’s an amusing way to spend an evening! If all else fails, wildlife trappers can trap and remove the raccoons from your yard.
After you have claimed victory in your war against raccoons, you will surely do everything possible to avoid eyes glowing at you from the depths of your attic. Your efforts should be both general, meaning you do not want to attract raccoons to your property in general, and more specific. The specific prevention is keeping your home in good repair and sealing any holes or damage.
General Raccoon Preventing Tips
Bring in pet food and water at night
Keep all trash in metal cans or bins with tight-fitting lids
Clean and deodorize trash cans regularly
Weigh trash lids down with a brick or a block
Regularly clean up fallen fruit such as berries in your garden
If possible, cover garden crops with a cage of wire netting.
Consider eliminating water sources in your yard
The Humane Society suggests playing a recording of a talk show to keep raccoons from your yard, and others suggest motion-activated lights keep raccoons at bay. Most raccoon repellents are ineffective. Raccoons come to your yard and home to meet the basics of life, food, water, and shelter. Eliminate or block these amenities and raccoon activity in your yard should decrease.
Preventing Raccoons from Entering your Home Again
After you have claimed victory in your war against raccoons, you will surely do everything possible to avoid eyes glowing at you from the depths of your attic. The only way to effectively prevent raccoons, or other critters, from nesting in your home, is to seal up every entry hole. Raccoons can pry off and bend many building materials. If they find a hole about 3” in diameter, they can scratch around it to make it large enough to pull their body through. Rats, mice, and squirrels, however, can fit through holes the size of a dime. Aim for sealing the smallest of holes. The more thorough and detailed that you seal your home, the greater prevention you afford against an array of critters.
This is an ideal time to properly seal against insects, rodents, bats, and raccoons. You can use hardware cloth, sheet metal, copper or aluminum wire mesh, or steel wool.
Plug or repair any cracks in the foundation, walls, and basement
Seal gaps around windows and doors
Seal holes around pipes that lead to appliances
Install a heavy-duty steel chimney cap over the chimney
Place vent covers over dryer vents
Repair soffits and gutters
Nextgen Pest Solutions Raccoon Removal
Raccoons are increasing in numbers in cities and more rural areas. Raccoons are perfectly comfortable living in proximity to humans, and their unique abilities can create unusual scenarios! Although we appreciate raccoons for their clever problem-solving skills and cute little banded faces, we should always remember they are wild animals.
Nature should always be treated respectfully and humanely. At Nextgen Pest Solutions, we are a veteran-owned, full-service pest control company with branches in Atlanta, Georgia, South Florida, and the Tampa Bay Area in Florida. Our Professional Raccoon Trappers are trained and experienced in removing raccoons from your attic, cleaning up the mess, and sealing your home to keep them out for good.