Raccoons
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Raccoons are one the most common , highly adaptable and intelligent species found in our back yards. They coexist peacefully with domestic cats and most other wildlife species with the exception of coyotes.
Many people encourage them into their back yards with food, so they can watch their playful antics. This is never a good idea, since raccoons soon loose their fear of people and inturn teach this unsafe behavior to their young. This may also encourage females to breed more since there is additional food available. Their natural diet includes rodents, insects, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, birds and the occasional garbage raid. They provide great rodent control so everyone benefits when they are left to hunt instead of looking for a handout.
Their litters can vary from 2 to 6 young depending on the availability of food and density of raccoon population. In California, we have seen newborns come in for care as late as November so people who consider trapping at this time, may cause the death of these late babies.

Ways to discourage unwanted Raccoons

Secure trash can lids.

Feed pets indoors, or only during the day if outside.

Use a hot wire to protect coy ponds before you have a problem

Place a radio  and light in area for eviction.

Use cayenne pepper or ammonia to deter raccoons from entering certain areas or peeling up new laid sod.

Do home repairs in the fall to prevent nests being built.

Monitor your dog while outside at night especially in the summer.

Turn sprinklers on the morning instead of night.

Keep plant pots drained.

Use only small amounts of bird seeds to not attract rodents at night.

Keep trees picked not only to prevent raccoons eating the ripened fruit, but from encouraging rodents that are a raccoon favorite.

Maintain a raccoon's fear of people by yelling, growling or banging pots and pans whenever a raccoon is in sight.

Raccoon Eviction

If you suspect a raccoon may be nesting in your crawl space, attic or out building, the best thing to do is leave them alone. You will not have pile of feces in your attic since the mother licks her babies clean to promote stimulation and to prevent parasites from taking over. As the babies grow, they will take nightly excursions where they learn to hunt, poop and pee. The mother has an incentive to keep the nest site clean incase she has the chance to use it again. Eventually, the whole family moves out, and that is when the area can be sealed shut. Flour can be sprinkled around the entrance to determine if the foot prints are going in or out as well as stuffing news paper into an opening before the boards go up.. If it is pushed out the raccoon has either been inside or exited depending on the time of day that it was placed.

If babies have to be removed, and the entrance sealed shut, they can be easily placed in a box outside of the den. The fact that the babies have been moved will indicate to the mother that this den site is no longer safe. She will hear their cries and may take 2 to 3 nights to relocate all of them to her alternate nest site. Place a deep box with a brick inside to prevent tipping over. Put a heating pad  on low, underneath the box. Line the inside with warm blankets ,one to lay on and one to cover the young. Make sure the box is deep enough that they do not climb out. Pets should be kept away from the area so the mother can retrieve her young in peace. Do not try to feed them as they will cry for their mother when they are hungry and you may run the risk of aspiration. Adults and juveniles can be made uncomfortable with radios, lights and strong odors such as moth balls and ammonia. Never put these products in small spaces with new borns as they may die from the fumes. Scare crows and motion detector lights can be placed outside and as a last resort, the yard can be rigged with a hot wire.

Never resort to trapping a raccoon unless it is badly injured.

Each year, we receive many raccoons that cannot be reunited to their mothers. We release them in groups when they are at least 6 months old. In order to keep them wild, handling is kept to a minimum .We developed feeding racks to help this process and to give us the ability to feed multiple babies at one time. Each Raccoon can cost any where from 2 to 5 hundred dollars to raise depending upon its age.

We also treat a variety of injuries including car hits, poisoning, gun shots, mutilations, dog bites and trap wounds. One of our saddest cases was a raccoon with an arrow through his upper body. He died shortly after it was removed.

The wounds on this raccoon are from a leg hold trap. Something that is illegal in California. He was the first of three cases all which had to be euthanized due to the severity of their injuries.

This raccoon was put under in order to assess its wounds.

This juvenile was the sole survivor of a family that was hit by a car. His leg was fractured in 2 places but he recovered completely and was later released.

Copyright © 2004 Nicky Thole/Karin Beer-Koller
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. For viewing purposes only. Downloading for commercial use will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.