Raccoon Problems

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Raccoons are smart, strong and sneaky so they can quickly become a nuisance animal to your family.Raccoon Problems in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Raccoons, with their familiar black bandit mask and black-and-brown banded tail are the ultimate cute "Critter". Common in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, their mischievous behavior is persistent and unsettling. Raccoons are smart, strong and sneaky so they can quickly become a nuisance animal to your family.

Adult raccoons (Procyon lotor) typically are 26 to 40 inches long from nose to tail with weight varying dramatically (7 to 35 lbs) depending on the season. Raccoons do not hibernate but their activity slows considerably during the cold months. Breeding, which can be quite active (with screeching and growling), occurs in January through March. Females stay with the young from summer through fall with the family breaking up at the start of the new mating season.

When a Raccoon Finds Food and Shelter on Your Property...

Raccoons will eat almost anything and the easier to obtain the better including pet food and your food scraps. They will also take the path of least resistance in their search for shelter. Since they do not build their own dens, they shop around for desirable ready-made shelter. This can include hollow trees but, in ever increasing numbers, raccoons find secure shelter in crawl spaces, chimneys, attics, wall spaces and the like. Once this happens, a raccoon can cause considerable harm from damage to duct work, insulation and wiring to unsanitary conditions due to urination and feces.

With a reliable food source and safe shelter, your property can be very attractive to a raccoon.

Raccoons can present a number of health and safety concerns...

Seemingly gentle, raccoons can become aggressive if threatened and trapped. Scratches and bites can cause injury and transfer disease. Raccoons can harbor parasites such as ticks, mites and fleas as well as carry diseases such as rabies, distemper and roundworm. These can infect both your family and your pets. Although often seen in Cincinnati neighborhoods, raccoons are wildlife. Keep your family and your pets at a safe distance.

Is It A Raccoon?

If you suspect a raccoon is causing a problem but haven't actually seen one, here are some ways to help determine what is causing damage to your property. Clues include:

  • How the animal gains access to your property - raccoons are good climbers but avoid digging.
  • The size of the opening - raccoons need at least a 4 inch wide opening to get in.
  • Look for a tree or downspout being used - raccoons will leave scratches and brown smudge marks.
  • Time when the damaged occurred - raccoons are typically nocturnal.
  • Type of lawn damage - raccoons tend to damage patches of your lawn versus digging holes.

A very common nesting place for a raccoon is an infrequently used chimney. Signs of raccoon presence include the sounds of chirping and thumping coming from the chimney and smudge marks along your downspouts.

The Best Solution...

While prevention of the problem is the first approach, once raccoons have found a home on your property, trapping and removal may be the only effective solution. An effective and safe trapping plan will include:

  • Identifying points of access
  • Identifying nesting sites
  • Determining the number of animals using the site
  • Establishing whether offspring are present

Traps must be set so as not to endanger non-targeted animals (such as pets), and to securely and quickly trap the raccoons. Care must be taken to capture and remove babies, if present, as well.

Nesting sites must be safely cleaned, sanitized and deodorized. Once all of the problem raccoons are removed, repair of property damage and improvements to prevent re-infestation by other raccoons must be conducted using professional-grade materials and workmanship.

Tips to Reduce Raccoon Problems

Raccoons are a familiar sight in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky neighborhoods and can quickly become a nuisance. In addition to trapping and removal by an animal control expert, you can help manage problem raccoons in a number of ways:

Secure property against use as nesting site - Raccoons do not construct their own dens so will use your crawl spaces, storm drains, attics, and chimneys. Raccoons see your property as available real estate meeting their nesting needs. Because raccoons are extremely strong, dexterous and smart, eliminating them from your property can take persistence and expertise. Raccoons can tear through shingles to get to an attic, enlarge a small opening to gain entrance to your crawl spaces or even tear open a screen door to access pet food. They will scale downspouts and chimneys to gain access to your home as well.

Once nuisance raccoons are trapped and removed, property improvements must be made to repair damage and prevent re-infestation. This can include the installation of chimney caps, wire-mesh, replacement of rotten wood, etc. Because of the strength, dexterity and cunning of raccoons, professional-grade materials and repairs are recommended to effectively keep problem raccoons from utilizing your property.

Eliminate easy food sources - Raccoons are opportunistic omnivores meaning they will eat most anything. This includes eggs, food scraps, corn, birdseed, worms, pet food and even dead animals. Human populations can provide an easy and consistent supply of food. Garbage is the most obvious food source in residential areas. To reduce access, use metal trashcans with tight fitting lids. If possible, store trash containers inside secure buildings. Do not leave pet food or water outside. Be aware that raccoons have been knows to gain access through pet doors or even tear through screen doors. Do not put meats, eggs, fats or oils into the compost pile, only plant material. Hang bird feeders on a wire between support posts or trees and use baffled poles to prevent access.
Secure gardens - Use of electric fencing installed at 4 and 12 inches can help deter access to your garden by raccoons. Using automatic timers to turn the fence on at dusk and off at daybreak can increase safety and reduce electric use.

Be thorough and diligent in your elimination of food and shelter!

If you live in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area and a raccoon is creating a nuisance, trapping and removal may be the only long-term, cost-effective solution. Trapping should be conducted by a trained, licensed professional to protect your family and your property as well as to ensure humane removal of the animal. A professional animal control expert can fully assess and address your animal nuisance problem.


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