If you have raccoons in your attic or somewhere else in your home, please call CMC Animal Control, the Macomb County Raccoon Removal experts at (248) 904-5162 today!
So! You have a raccoon (or multiple raccoons) in your home. Most people become aware that an animal is living in their attic or somewhere else in their home when they hear scampering, scratching, or walking noises above the ceiling. A wide variety of animals choose to live in the attics of buildings, from rats and mice, bats and pigeons, squirrels, opossums, and of course raccoons. Most of these animals will oftentimes use other areas of the home as well, from the soffits to the wall voids to the space between floors, so the attic is not the only area you’ll find critters.
Raccoon Noises: It’s often possible to determine the type of animal by the noises alone. Raccoons are the largest of these animals, so the sound is often “heavy” – more like thumping or walking than the light scurrying of a rat. Additionally, raccoons are primarily nocturnal, so the noises occur at night. Most of the noise might happen shortly after dusk, when the animal leaves the attic, and again sometime in the night when it returns. However, the timing of the noise may vary, and sometimes raccoons will stir during the daytime. In addition, raccoons are often vocal, and it’s possible to hear their various growls, chirps, cries, and other noises. If there’s a raccoon family, consisting of a female and a litter of baby raccoons, you will very often hear the very distinct and unique crying and whining of the babies, surefire evidence of raccoon presence.
Why Are They There?: Wild animals live in attics because it’s great habitat. Attics are generally warm, dry, safe, and protected from the elements. Attics are often in close proximity to the food sources of urbanized animals – garbage cans, pet food, and other human-influenced food sources. An attic is like a big, hollow tree or cave – it’s a great place to live! Additionally, female animals have a strong denning instinct when they are pregnant, and instinctively seek out safe, enclosed areas. It’s very common for a female animal about to bear young to find its way into an attic. In fact, and I’m probably going to repeat it multiple times here, the most common scenario with raccoons in an attic is that of a female with a litter of young. The primary reason a raccoon enters an attic in the first place is so that she can give birth to and raise her young pups. Thus, most incidents of raccoons in attic are in spring, from February – May.
Raccoon Sightings: Many people with a raccoon in the attic see the animal. It’s a large critter, and it doesn’t exactly hide its presence with swift and silent movements, like a rat. Raccoons are also often active in the daytime, especially ones living in an attic (see below), so it’s very common for people with a raccoon in the attic to actually see the animal, as it climbs up the downspout and onto the roof, or sniffs through the garbage can.
How Did They Get In?: Raccoons are excellent climbers, they are very strong, and they have very nimble hands. They have no problem entering any attic they choose, on almost any home. Most of the time, they’ve chosen an attic based on convenience or proximity to their normal home range. If there’s an easy and obvious way in, all the better. A house with wide-open holes and easy access stands a higher chance of seeing a raccoon enter at some point. Easy climbing access, such as trees adjacent to the house, also increases the probability of animal entry and habituation. But even without nearby trees, raccoons have no problem climbing almost anything. I’ve seen them climb easy areas on homes, such as downspouts and screened porches, but also harder areas, such as wood trim, brick walls, or even the smooth corner of houses. They don’t really need much to grab on to. They are amazing climbers, and one of the few animals with the capability of swiveling the hind foot around 180 degrees to descend headfirst. They can enter the attic in a variety of places. The most popular area is any place where an eave meets up against a roof portion of the house, such as a dormer, or any architectural bend leading sections of the roof to meet. Home builders do not secure soffits to the roof – they are only interested in keeping water out, and ventilation, and don’t think about animal entry. Other very common entry areas include soffit vents, gable vents, and other roof vents. Sometimes raccoons will simply rip right through the shingles and wooden roof, right into the attic – they are that strong.
What Do They Do Once Inside?: After a raccoon finds a way in and decides to live in an attic, it basically sets up shop. It establishes areas in the attic it likes to live in, establishes feeding and bathroom areas, it flattens and clears out insulation in areas it wants to sleep, and if it’s a female, it finds areas in which to give birth and raise its young. During the course of its time in an attic, it expands all of these areas and uses more and more space.
What Damage Does a Raccoon Cause in An Attic?: The raccoon often finds bedding material by shredding roof or wall paper, and shredding vent ducts and insulation around pipes. I’ve seen them destroy all the ducts in an attic, and even tear apart cooling systems, vents and fans, and even wood beams. Sometimes it may simply destroy things for unknown reasons, just like people do. Raccoons are large animals, and I’ve dealt with many cases of raccoons falling through the ceiling and into the home over the years – not a pleasant situation! They also scratch and chew, and I’ve seen several cases in which they’ve clawed and chewed electrical wires. I have many photos of raccoon damage if you click here. Animals that live in houses also sometimes die in houses, and the odor of a dead raccoon is incredible. In one case, a raccoon tore up all the AC ducts in the attic, then crawled down into the air handler and got electrocuted and died. Click here for photos. The smell was tremendous. If they live in an attic for any length of time, they walk all over and flatten the insulation, lowering the R-Value (insulating effectiveness). They also urinate and defecate everywhere. I’ve seen some attics that have been heavily contaminated with raccoon droppings. This is not only unsanitary and smells bad, but raccoon droppings are host to a number of zoonotic diseases, including raccoon roundworm.
What Health Risks Do Raccoons Pose?: Rabies is the most commonly cited disease associated with raccoons. Never approach a raccoon that looks sick, confused, or that is moving awkwardly. Distemper is also an important raccoon disease, the early stages of which mimic rabies, and it’s important that domestic dogs and cats have full vaccinations and are checked for worms once a year. As stated above, the droppings of raccoons can contain raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis & B. columnaris). This parasitic worm can and does infect humans and is very dangerous. The egg spores in the raccoon droppings are light and can become airborne, and people can breathe them in and become infected. Infection of humans can lead to larval parasite migration to the central nervous system. These egg spores can live for years as dry pods. Raccoons also carry Giardia lamblia, a protozoan causing diarrhea associated with ingesting food or water contaminated by raccoon excrement. Trypanosoma cruzi is associated with raccoon excrement as are Rickettsia rickettsii, Leptospirosis, and Salmonella. They are also host to a number of parasites, such as lice and fleas. Oftentimes people with raccoons in the attic will notice that their pets (and in a few cases themselves) suddenly have fleas that they never had before. I often get fleas on me when I enter attics that hold raccoons and I treat raccoon diseases seriously.
Why Would I Want To Remove Them?: People who have raccoons in the attic often first object to the noise they hear, which keeps them awake at night. That’s enough for most people. Some people simply don’t like the idea of having wild critters in the attic. However, the main problems are that if the raccoon lives in the attic for enough time, it almost always starts to cause damage – to the drywall, to the ducts, to the vents, to various new areas outside the home. Raccoons are inquisitive animals, they are actually extremely messy, and they just plain destroy things by their nature. They are messy with food or debris they bring in, but much moreso, with their waste. Some raccoons are actually neat about it, and repeatedly use the same area as a latrine. More often, the waste is scattered prolifically throughout the attic. The insulation is usually compromised, often severely. For these reasons it’s good idea to get rid of raccoons in the attic. In fact, raccoons are one of the few animals for which homeowner’s insurance will pay for attic restoration and repairs. Your local pro may be able to give you free advice about how to handle and clean raccoon droppings and bill to insurance.
What About Raccoons in a Chimney?: Raccoons get into chimneys as well. Some of the same principles as outlined below apply to raccoons in chimneys. However, odor deterrents are more effective due to the concentrated area. DO NOT START A FIRE if you have raccoons in the chimney – you’d have to open the damper to let the smoke out, and they will enter the fireplace instead of climbing out. Even if they don’t get into the your house or fireplace, you will cook animals alive and get a horrendous odor that will last a long time. Many professional wildlife removal experts have special raccoon in chimney removal systems if odor deterrents don’t work. Click for more info on raccoons in the chimney.
Won’t They Just Leave on Their Own?: It depends on the situation of course, but the answer is generally no. Are you going to just leave your house in a few days for no good reason? If it’s a female raccoon with young, she will first breast feed them for about ten weeks, then start to take them on forays outside. She will remain with them for nine months, showing them where to find food and things like that. Raccoons are great moms. They will bring the whole brood back to the attic before sunrise. After they are nine months old, the young will set off on their own. At this point, its possible that the mother raccoon will abandon the attic. However, it, or one of its young, might decide to stay. And when the raccoon becomes pregnant again and has a new litter after the 2-month gestation, it wants to go back in the same attic again. Raccoons are creatures of habit. source: raccoonatticguide.com
Do you have stubborn raccoons in your attic or elsewhere in your home? Please call CMC Animal Control, the Macomb County Raccoon Removal professionals at (248) 904-5162 today!