Raccoons In Suburban Environments
June 22, 2016
Raccoons are ubiquitous pests in nearly all parts of North America. These medium-sized mammals can range in size from eight to twenty pounds, and are known for the distinctive black markings on their faces and tails. They are covered in thick grey and brown underfur, which protects and insulates them during the winter months. They are mostly nocturnal, and are noted pests in suburban and rural areas. Like opossums, raccoons are omnivorous, and have been known to be quite bold around human habitations where food is present.
These pests typically make their homes in hollow trees and logs, and prefer to forage for food in densely wooded areas, as they rely on their masterful climbing ability to escape from danger when threatened. If out-of-the-way logs are not readily available, however, a raccoon will happily make its den in a crawlspace, outbuilding, chimney, or attic.
As mentioned above, raccoons are omnivores, and their preference for a wide variety of food is one of the reasons that they’ve been able to adapt to many different climates. During the spring and summer months, they typically prefer insects, frogs, fish, and crayfish, and have even been known to roll back sod on lawns in search of earthworms. During the late summer and fall, raccoons tend to seek out nuts, grains, and fruits, as well as whatever they can obtain from cultivated gardens and garbage cans. In northern regions of North America, raccoons will go into a kind of truncated hibernation, as foraging is almost impossible as long as thick layers of snow cover the ground.
Raccoons are social animals within their familial groups, and tend to mate from February to March. Females generally carry their young for about two months, and a standard litter produces about three to five babies. At about two months of age, raccoon kits will accompany their mothers on foraging expeditions, and will soon begin to strike out on their own.
Female raccoons will sometimes arrange themselves into what is known as a fission-fusion society - meaning that they’ll share a common territory, and will meet at feeding or resting grounds. Males, on the other hand, will sometimes form loose social groups, in order to maintain their position against foreign males during the mating season. Usually, these groups will number no larger then four individuals.
Famously, raccoons are notable vectors for rabies: a fatal disease caused by the neurotropic rabies virus carried in the saliva of these creatures. They are so prone to carry the disease, in fact, that over one-third of all reported rabies cases in the United State in 2006 were attributed to raccoons. The disease is treatable, of course, and only human fatality has actually been reported as a result of infection via raccoon bite.
Rabies in raccoons has several symptoms and manifests itself in a number of ways - including a generally sickly appearance, impaired mobility, abnormal vocalization, and aggressiveness. Humans should be extremely cautious about approaching raccoons in the wild, and if any abnormal behavior in raccoons is observed, it should be reported to the appropriate authorities, such as animal control officers from the local health department.
If raccoons or other pests have made unsightly appearances around your home or business, call Cantu Pest & Termite and schedule an appointment today with one of our friendly, experienced pest control experts.