Raccoons: Homeowners Beware

Raccoons are wild, nocturnal animals that are a huge problem in the Mid-Atlantic area, especially during the warmer months. Some may find these “bandit-faced” animals of the night cute, but they are rambunctious and dangerous.

Identifying Rabies
Make no mistake—raccoons frequently carry rabies, making them dangerous to both humans and family pets. One of the first signs that a raccoon is rabid is if you see one during the daylight hours. The second phase of rabies is referred to as “furious.” This is the stage when the infected animal becomes aggressive, biting and secreting excessive saliva or foaming at the mouth. If a rabid raccoon is in close proximity to you or a pet, it will not hesitate to strike out and attack during this phase. The third phase involves paralysis of their extremities and lower jaw (which makes swallowing nearly impossible). Death is imminent, when a rabid animal reaches this stage.

Other Raccoon Dangers
In addition to rabies, raccoons carry a disease, known as roundworm, in their feces. Once they gain entry to your home, the insulation of your home becomes their new bathroom, leaving family members and household pets susceptible to infection. Depending on where roundworm may be in the body, symptoms may take weeks to manifest. Some signs of this type of infection can include: nausea, excessive weakness, blindness, enlargement of the liver and possible loss of muscle coordination.

Raccoon Prevention
After a cold winter of hibernating and mating, raccoons give birth around the end of spring and beginning of summer. During this time, raccoon problems in residential areas heighten as female raccoons seek shelter and prepare for birth. If an outdoor location, like a hollow tree or rock crevice is not available, they will seek shelter in attics, chimneys or other areas of the home that they find inviting and safe.

To prevent a raccoon from entering the home, it is important to examine and close off any possible entry ways. In areas that are susceptible to raccoon break-ins—such as the attic—use bright lights, noise makers and strong smells (such as apple cider vinegar) to help deter raccoons.

Contact a Professional
Raccoons are resourceful animals and can effectively hide within the walls of your home, crawl spaces and air ducts. If you suspect that a raccoon is residing in your home, contact a pest control company, immediately, to address the problem. Pest professionals have a deep understanding of how to get rid of raccoons. Additionally, they have special equipment to safely lure raccoons from these awkward areas, effectively, without damaging the home.