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Info- Raccoon

Description
The raccoon is a well-recognized animal that can grow to be as large as or bigger than a small dog. It has very distinctive markings. Its body is salt and pepper colored and its fur is coarse and thick. The face has the characteristic black mask and its tail is long with numerous black rings around it. The raccoon's front and hind paws are very prehensile, meaning they are adapted to grasp or seize objects very well. Their claws are non-retractable.


Habitat
Raccoons are found primarily along streams and lake boarders near wooded areas or rock cliffs, although they will wander from water. As their habitat becomes increasingly developed by humans they are often forced into urban areas. They are sometimes found in backyards, gardens and garages in search of food. They den in hollow trees, logs, rock crevices, or ground burrows. They may also seek shelter or temporary living quarters in the spaces under a house or deck. Rarely does a raccoon family that has denned under someone's house stay for very long.

Habits
They are chiefly nocturnal, but may be seen during the day. In cold weather the raccoon may sleep for several days, but it does not hibernate. Raccoons are very social animals and the young may stay with the mother for up to a year. They are solitary except when breeding and caring for their young.

Diet
The raccoon's diet is variable. It is an omnivore (eating fruit/vegetables and meat) like the skunk, although it is not related to it. The diet consists of: fruits, nuts, insects, frogs, mice, bird's eggs, crayfish, fish and vegetables. It is also an opportunistic eater, consuming most anything available.

Common Misconceptions
It is not true that raccoons lack salivary glands and that they must "wash" their food before eating it. Their mouths and noses are moist, providing evidence that this is not true (they love dry cat/dog food). It is believed that since most of their hunting is by stream or creekside, they naturally have developed tactile senses in water that enables them to discern non-edible matter.

It is also not true that they make great pets. First, it is illegal to keep one, and second they often turn very mean once they are past the cute baby stage.

Benefits
Raccoons prey on small vermin such as mice and rats.


For self-help information on raccoons click on Self-Help- Raccoons

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How to keep raccoons away
Like any wild animal, the raccoon is attracted to an area because of a food source. If you have a raccoon living under your house, take away any cat/dog food left outside and close any cat/dog door that leads inside to food for at least two weeks. Scatter "Predator Scent", which is mountain lion poop and is sold at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in Petaluma (707-992-0274), around the areas where you know the raccoon will encounter it to encourage it to leave. The scent should make it afraid and it will choose to move somewhere else. Put flour around the entrance, check the direction of the paw prints and close up the hole when the raccoon is gone. Be cautious in spring when babies are likely to be present. If the raccoon is trying frantically to get back in, you probably locked babies inside. Raccoons are very destructive when they are trying to get to their babies, so be careful because you may end up with more damage than if you had waited for the babies to grow up. Close up any holes once it's gone.
A Wildlife Exclusion Service • 403 Mecham Rd, Petaluma 94952 • (707) 992-0276
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