Is There a Raccoon In Your Attic?
During the winter months, food is scarce out in the wild and during this cold period of the year, wild animals such as raccoons, opossums, etc. will enter your home, looking for somewhere safe and dry, and with a steady source of food to keep them happy and plump. You may find that they stay throughout the winter, and right into spring too, where they start to have their young, needing to find somewhere to keep their new family safe and fed too.
It is while the critters are out scavenging for food that they’ll come across your property. For some it could be a garbage can without a lid, storing tasty leftovers and treats inside. For others, it could be an uncovered bowl of cat food left on the back porch for the family pet. It might even an unopened kitchen window leading to sausages defrosting on a plate right on the side. The point I’m trying to make here is that when you make your property more attractive to wild animals, such as making it easy for them find food, they are going to want to get a little closer. And when they do, they are almost impossible to get rid of without the help of a specialist.
Signs of a Raccoon
There is a good chance you will have spotted the signs of a raccoon invasion before you put the pieces together to come up with a wild animal.
Holes in Yard
For example, have you been seeing dug up holes in your lawn?
As much as your raccoon likes to live in your attic, there’s a good chance it’ll head to your yard to find insects to eat, and they love to dig to find them! If you have bird feeders hanging around, you’ll also notice the feed start to go down much faster than it did before. No, you don’t have an abundance of birds in your yard all of a sudden. Things haven’t turned ‘Disney movie.’ You probably have a raccoon munching through the feed most nights.
You may notice footprints in your yard too, especially in the soft mud after a good rain. The tracks and prints the creature will leave behind look like typical wild animal prints, almost like hands - one soft large pad with five longer ‘fingers’.
Damage (e.g. Broken Panelling)
Moving towards the home, if you think you should have a wild animal in your attic, you should take a peek at the exterior to see if an animal could have caused damage trying to gain access. This means checking the walls for broken panelling, vents, soffits, etc. Raccoons have very sharp teeth and claws that make mincemeat out of most materials, and they will do what they can to get in once they’ve made their mind up.
Another thing it is wise to keep an eye out for is discolouration. When bats fly in and out of a property, the brown or dirty-dark markings from their fur is often left on the surfaces they brush against, especially with a repeated fly-by action, and the same can be said for raccoons too. You will notice the area around the entrance points getting dirty and darker.
Sounds at Night
Generally, a raccoon will be more active during the night which means you are more likely to hear them at night. If the garbage can is getting knocked over during the day for example, it is probably a local cat or your dog. If it happens at night, it is more than likely a wild animal like a racoon or an opossum. If the animal is living in your attic, you may hear thumping noises at night, or maybe even scratching as they damage the wooden foundations and structures of your home, and even get right into the crevices behind your walls.
Urine & Feces
Finally, poop and urine is a great place to start identifying a rogue raccoon. Shaped much like dog poop, and much the same size too, raccoons will often have ‘latrines’ of sorts - an area in which they repeatedly go to the toilet. As with a lot of other wild animals, their faeces and waste matter come with a number of disease risks so finding this in your attic requires urgent attention from someone specialised in cleaning wild animal waste. This is not something you’ll want to get your hands dirty with…literally.
Summary of Raccoon Signs
You’ll hear them thumping or scratching around, and you may even see them at night, having a good root around in your yard. You will definitely spot the damage they leave behind, especially if you go looking for it. You may smell them, or rather their waste matter, and if you’re really unlucky, you’ll smell the decomposing remains of one after dying somewhere deep inside your home.
Essentially, raccoons don’t like to live a quiet existence. You’ll know they are there before long!
Raccoons in the Attic
If you’re sick of being kept awake at night by the thudding and thumping of what sounds like a small colony of animals in your attic, it’s time to go undercover. It’s time to grab your flashlight, pull down the attic ladder, and go investigate.
That sound isn’t going to go away until you make it go away. Unless you’re lucky, of course.
One of the common animals you are likely to find up in your attic is a raccoon and again, commonly this will be a female. If you have found the animal during the warmer months of the year - spring and summer, you probably have a new, young family of raccoons up there. Which of course, poses quite the problem.
One raccoon, you probably could have dealt with on your own, but you weren’t really accounting for babies.
This is the first mistake made by many homeowners when they go on the warpath against an invading wild animal - they don’t do their research first. If you were to take two minutes to have a Google search for ‘raccoons in the attic’ or something along those lines, you’ll see every website saying the same thing - raccoons in the attic during spring and summer generally have babies in tow - you will need to approach your animal eviction a slightly different way than you had planned.
You can’t just get rid of the mother and hope the babies sort themselves out because life doesn’t work like that. The chances are, the babies are still dependent on their mother so without her, they will just die. Whether they starve to death, or die of dehydration, or even die as a result of becoming victim to another predators vicious attack, you will have caused it, and then they’ll start to decompose and smell.
Essentially, by eliminating the mother and not thinking about the nest of babies, you have made your problem a hundred thousand times bigger… and even more difficult to solve!
Dealing with a Nest of Babies
There are a couple of different approaches you can take to the small family you have found in the attic if your home. You could leave them there and let nature take its course, but this isn’t the best solution.
Eventually, the baby raccoons will grow up and leave home, starting new families and territories of their own. There is a good chance that these guys will just leave of their own accord at some point. However, on the other side of the coin, they have recognized your attic as a safe home, and they have left their scent markings everywhere. Those scent markings will attract other raccoons, and maybe even the same raccoons back over the years, and may even attract other animals too - rats, flies, etc.
The most successful and simplest approach to take if you have found a nest of baby raccoons in the attic is to be sneaky, and one step ahead of the mother raccoon. Not an easy task to achieve, let me tell you that!
First, you’ll need locate the nest but at this stage, you don’t take any action. You could go down the route of spraying some raccoon eviction fluid around but honestly, it probably wouldn’t work anywhere so for the purposes of this guide, we are going to eliminate the idea of raccoon repellents entirely.
Once you have located the nest, you’ll need to monitor the habits of the young family until the mother raccoon has gone away to scavenge for food. When she is gone (and you are sure you are safe), grab the baby raccoons, and carefully place them as live bait in the back of a cage trap. The mother will do everything in her power to protect her young so the aim of the game here is to entice her into the trap by her own young, and then having the entire family all safely together to relocate somewhere else.
You will need some pretty thick, heavy duty gloves to remove the baby raccoons. Safety should be paramount here, and these animals can carry and transit the rabies virus. Make sure that you are not in any danger of the babies biting or scratching you, but also make sure you are not putting yourself in danger of being attacked by the mother. If she hears her young are being threatened, and they will call her for help, she’ll be back in a flash, and those sharp teeth and claws will make mincemeat out of your skin. For an animal that can weight twenty pounds or more, these critters can move fast!
Once you have caught both the mother and the babies inside your trap, make sure that you do your research and ask for advice on relocating them to another area. There are a whole bunch of things you’ll need to take into account, and you could even be breaking the law if you don’t do the right thing.
We would always advise that you seek advice from a professional wild animal removal company!