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Raccoons

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Procyon lotor

Appearance

Procyon lotor is more commonly known as the raccoon. They are 61 to 91 cm long and have a distinctive black mask with a ringed tail.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The raccoon’s nocturnal exploits have earned it a place throughout American culture. They are best known for their curious and mischievous nature, especially when it comes to trash cans.

Many home and business owners are forced into protective measures so their refuse isn’t scattered on a nightly basis. In fact, such actions earned the raccoon movie roles like the one in The Great Outdoors. It’s hard to believe that such a pest has earned both our ire and affection.

Typically, raccoons prefer to inhabit hollow trees and logs near lakes and streams. They are known to venture into populated areas, becoming a nuisance as they search for refuge and forage for food. Raccoons will also use existing structures to construct a den. Some of their favorite habitats are the areas beneath porches and outbuildings, attics and chimneys.

During the months of spring and early summer, diet consists primarily of insects, frogs, fish and crayfish. They are known to roll back sod in search of earthworms and grubs (doing significant damage to lawns). During late summer and fall, raccoons move to nuts, grains, berries, fruits and sweet corn from gardens. Whether local residents or simply foraging, easily observable signs of raccoon activity are damaged lawns and raided garbage cans.

Reproduction

Raccoons are very social animals within their family groups. They mate from February to March, and females carry the young for approximately 60 days. A standard litter produces three to five young. At about 2 months of age, the young raccoons will begin accompanying their mother on outings to find food. The family group usually stays together for about one year. Upon maturation, an adult raccoon will vary in size from 61 to 91 cm in length and 4.5 to 13.5 kg.

Signs of a Raccoon Infestation

Raccoons are their own sign. The others signs can be their feeding damage, such as overturned trash cans or partially eaten garden items, such as corn or melons. Another sign can be the structural damage they may cause as they try to enter buildings, such as into attics.

More Information

Since raccoons enjoy raiding trash cans, it’s best to use ones made of tough materials like hard plastics and metal. Cans should have tight-fitting lids and straps or clamps to help hold them shut. Finally, it’s recommended the cans be tied to a support or placed in a rack where they can’t be tipped over. Raccoons have an affinity for chimneys, as well. Access to this area can be restricted through purchase of a commercial spark arrestor cap or heavy screen wire secured over any openings.

The other means by which raccoons can be controlled is capture or trapping. Check local regulations for trapping and relocation requirements. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your pest control professional who has training in resolving unwanted pest issues in the correct ways.