Raccoons are one of the most easily recognized species of wildlife in the United States. They are often called “the masked bandit,” an accurate description. They are very intelligent animals, and have a good memory. The California raccoon is a large species,
In the high desert, raccoons inhabit several types of habitats. They are opportunistic omnivores, and aren’t picky about food choices. They eat fruits, acorns, insects, rodents, fish, bird eggs, and unfortunately, due to unsecured trash, man-made ponds, and pet food left outdoors, they have learned that businesses and residences are also reliable food sources. They have highly developed sense of touch, hearing, and see well at night, when they are normally active. They can be excellent at fishing, by standing near the water’s edge and using their front paws to forage for fish and crayfish.
Raccoons are a formidable opponent to other animals that wish to do it harm. They have razor-sharp front claws, and a strong bite.
In the wild, raccoons aren’t normally a problem, but when they inhabit urban areas, they can cause problems. In urban areas, they may have a home range from 7 to 200 acres. Some raccoons visit urban areas and then retreat to more natural areas, while others, especially females, often find the perfect place to make themselves at home in any number of places. As long as it is dry, quiet, and food and water are available nearby, that’s all a raccoon needs to survive.
Raccoon removal from underneath a home, in an attic, under a deck, a shed, a barn, or any number of other hiding places must be done with care. Poisons should never be used, and are illegal. If the raccoon has a litter of babies, called kits, it is important not only for the homeowner, but for the raccoons themselves, to be properly removed. Failure to remove young raccoons usually results in a cruel death.
Raccoons and other wildlife are often attracted to urban areas because of well-meaning people purposely providing food. While this may seem like a kind gesture, the results can be deadly. Wildlife that are fed by humans can become obtrusive and dependent. If they become truly dependent and the supplied food source disappears, they may starve, or may wander into areas where they are not welcome. Unfortunately, animals suffer the consequences due to human interference. It is best for wildlife, including raccoons, to retain a healthy fear of humans, and by not feeding wildlife, you’re actually helping. Feeding wildlife is illegal.
The damage caused by raccoons can be costly. They gain access to attics and crawl spaces when openings aren’t secure. They tear apart or move insulation, tear apart ducting, and use the area as a bathroom, which is a biohazard. It is never a good idea to leave a raccoon nesting in a dwelling. The longer they remain, the more damage they can cause.
Raccoons, like other species, can be common carriers of rabies. Seeing a raccoon during daylight hours is not an automatic sign of illness, this is a myth. Nursing mother raccoons often forage for food during daylight, and stay with their litters during the night to protect them.
Raccoons are also carriers of canine distemper, leptospirosis, raccoon roundworm, and giardia. Please see Wildlife Diseases and Public Health for more information
If you are having a raccoon problem, we can help!