The Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a native mammal, measuring about 3 feet long, including its 12-inch, bushy, ringed tail. Because their hind legs are longer than the front legs, raccoon’s have a hunched appearance when they walk or run. Each of their front feet has five dexterous toes, allowing raccoon’s to grasp and manipulate food and other items.
Raccoons prefer forest areas near a stream or water source, but have adapted to various environments throughout Oregon.
Raccoon populations can get quite large in urban areas, owing to hunting and trapping restrictions, few predators, and human-supplied food.
Adult raccoon’s can weigh 15 to 40 pounds with some males weighing in at over 60 pounds. Their weight being a result of genetics, age, available food, and habitat location. A raccoon in the wild will probably weigh less than the urbanized raccoon that has learned to live on handouts, pet food, and food found in garbage-cans.
As long as raccoons are kept out of human homes, not cornered, and not treated as pets, they are not dangerous.
- Raccoon’s will eat almost anything, but they are particularly fond of creatures found in water—clams, crayfish, frogs, fish, and snails.
- Raccoon’s also eat insects, slugs, dead animals, birds and bird eggs, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
- Around urban areas, raccoon’s often eat garbage and pet food.
- Although not great hunters, raccoon’s can catch young gophers, squirrels, mice, and rats.
- Except during the breeding season and for females with young, raccoon’s are solitary.
- Individuals will eat together if a large amount of food is available in an area.
Raccoon’s are very intelligent creatures. They can make their way into your home through small openings, hard to reach areas and places that even, “We” are amazed that they can fit through.
To make sure that your home is not a place they would also like to call, “home”, check all vent screens around the foundation of your home, check for any openings that may be on the roof area, especially when you have multiple roof lines or dormers on your home, and check to make sure your chimney cap or screen is secure. Raccoon’s make their way to the roof of your home by means of trees, fences, arbors, covered porches and patios that are close to, or attached to your home. They have no problem climbing up support posts that hold your porch coverings, or a nearby tree. Raccoon’s are also able to climb carrying their young or other objects. Once raccoon’s gain access to your roof, they then begin looking for entry points. Often times vent screens are loose and easily removed or during construction, a portion of the siding was not attached correctly. This will allow entry into the attic space of your home. If they are able to gain access, during the time when they are going to give birth, or are rearing young, you will notice sounds made by the mother while preparing a suitable den site. Scratching as she moves insulation or thumping as she walks around. These sounds are not easily mistaken for rats or mice. They have a much “heavier” sound that denotes an animal rather than a rodent.
Raccoons often will defecate on the roof of your home.
Raccoons —Too Close for Comfort
Raccoon’s do not usually attack humans. They are usually interested in something around your home, such as an open trash can, dog or cat food dishes, or perhaps a fruit tree in your yard. But in rare instances raccoon’s can be aggressive. If a raccoon acts aggressively or strangely (circling, staggering as if drunk or disoriented, or shows unnatural tameness) it may be sick or injured. It would be in your best interest to leave the animal alone and call “A Better Critter Company” for safe removal.
Mother Raccoon’s are very protective of their young “Kits”. They will go to great lengths to protect them. Growling, barking, snarling, and lunging at you are all indications that she has young in the area and does not want you to harm them. It is once again best for you to leave them alone.
As the young “Kits” grow, you may hear faint noises, at first it will sound like “squeaking” almost like the sound of a bird chirping. As they get older (from about 2 weeks onward), you will notice a “chattering” sound accompanied by various grunts and growls. This is usually because they are hungry, thirsty, or mother raccoon is moving them around. Most adult raccoons produce a variety of snarls, growls, whines, screams, and barks.
If a raccoon finds its way into your house, stay calm, close surrounding interior doors, leave the room, and let the animal find its way back out through the open door, window, or pet door. Never corner a raccoon, thereby forcing it to defend itself.
Raccoon’s cause damage or nuisance problems around houses and outbuildings when they seek to gain entrance to attics, chimneys or understructures, or when they raid garbage in search of food. They will take the opportunity to feed on pet food left out for the family pet. In many urban or suburban areas, raccoon’s are learning that unsecured understructures or uncapped chimneys make very adequate substitutes for more traditional hollow trees for use as denning sites, particularly in spring.
In extreme cases, raccoons may tear off shingles or boards in order to gain access to an attic or wall space. Raccoon’s also can be a considerable nuisance when they roll up freshly laid sod in search of earthworms and grubs, this is known as “Grubbing”. They may return repeatedly and roll up extensive areas of sod on successive nights.
Trapping and Removal
If you are adventuresome and are going to try to trapping it for yourself, there are a few things you need to know. If you live in Oregon you must:
- Obtain a trapping permit from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife “BEFORE” you set out any traps.
- Any captured Raccoons (in Oregon) must be euthanized. You will not be permitted to release a captured Raccoon onto public lands.
- Releasing it onto public lands could result in a fine from the state.
To obtain a permit from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, (ODFW), simply call or visit your local office and obtain the permit there. They will inform you that you will not be allowed to relocate any trapped Raccoon on public or private lands and that the Raccoon will need to be euthanized. The only time you are allowed to release a Raccoon, is when it is a nursing mother or you release it where it was captured.
Although it may sound cruel, there are reasons for not releasing an animal into the “Wild” population. Because it has probably had an easy time with locating food and shelter, it’s chances of survive in the wild are diminished. It will not have been trained to have the locating instinct, and will fair far worse than a Raccoon born in the wild. Also, there is the possibility that it may transfer an unwanted disease into the wild population, one that could have severe consequences for the population. So “BEFORE” you decide to trap that pesky Raccoon for yourself, please consider all the factors. In state’s other than Oregon, check with your local Department of Fish and Wildlife for any restrictions or regulations.
There are several different types of traps for Raccoons. Cage traps, foothold traps, snare traps and body grip traps. Each one will capture raccoons in a different way. Both “cage” and “foothold” traps are designed to release the animal after it has been captured. The “body grip” or “Conibear” style trap is designed to euthanize the animal when it is caught.
More information is available on our Raccoon blog.
A Better Critter Company offers Raccoon removal services in Southern Oregon. Please call: