Raccoon Basics

Wildlife Removal Services can provide effective, professional raccoon control. There’s a reason we are known as the “critter catchers of San Diego” – and it involves offering a complete local raccoon control solution that involves three key elements.

  • Raccoon trapping and eviction – We are an animal control company in San Diego, Temecula, and Orange County that knows how to effectively and safely trap and evict raccoons. Sometimes raccoons don’t necessarily need formal trapping to be strongly discouraged from ever returning to your home or business.
  • Secure repairs and exclusion – Raccoons can do some damage in a hurry. That’s why we offer our animal control services to repair destruction and mayhem caused by these fox-like American mammals.
  • Proper cleanup and disinfecting services – You can rest easy knowing that we provide comprehensive San Diego raccoon control. No matter if these critters have been messing around with your trash in your yard or have made their way into your attic, we’ll make sure that they leave no traces behind.

If a raccoon is digging up your lawn, in your attic, in your koi pond, or just being a nuisance, we can help here at Wildlife Removal Service. Keep reading if you are interested in learning more about raccoons, identifying information, their biology, and practical steps that you can take to discourage them from thinking your San Diego residence or place of business looks like a good place to set up camp for a while.

Raccoon Biology

Holders of the scientific name Procyon lotor, raccoons are an average of one foot tall, between two to three feet in length, and are usually in the range of 15 to 23 lbs. They are distinguishable by their grey fur, black mask, and distinct black, horizontal rings found around its tail. They also boast whiskers, fox-like ears, white stripes around their eyes, a pointy snout, and dexterous, capable front paws which they use for a variety of tasks – not all of them pleasing to humans.

Omnivorous and primarily active at night, these scavengers are parts of the order Carnivora and members of the family Procyonidae. Shared body traits within this family include their moderately extended length, short ears, and curved claws. Yet there remains some diversity within the family, as some species therein weigh less than five lbs while others might weigh over 40! Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with too many 40 lbs raccoons here at our Southern California rodent control company.

Raccoons share facial traits with other animals in this family, some of which include the ringtail, white-nosed coati, the South American coati, and the kinkajou. These animals have spread to call a diversity of climates their home, with some living in deserts, rainforests, and swamps, while raccoons are more commonly found living in urban regions, woodlands, prairies, and swamps. Traditionally speaking, however, raccoons prefer more heavily wooded ecosystems of those listed above, as they afford them water, vegetation, and access to trees. There they can hollow out trees to make their dens. They’ve been known to wander from their home, though, insofar as they have been observed foraging for food close to 20 miles away from their current living situation in a forest or wooded area. That should serve as a lesson for those of us who might consider ourselves safe from these invaders.

Raccoon Habitat

Raccoons, in particular, are quite adaptable; they have no problem exploring unknown environments and setting up camp. They are brave, too, and often unafraid of humans, relative to other small mammals. You have likely seen them yourself, irrespective of whether you hail from the suburbs, country, or an urban dwelling. They’ll be happy to call corridors of man-made structures home. For example, we deal with raccoons making dens in San Diego attics quite a bit, especially out in the suburbs. They have no problem exploring this kind of terrain and territory.  In urban areas, raccoons are more likely to stay closer to their dens, and they aren’t likely to explore as much. They’ll usually stay within a one-mile radius of their home.

Raccoon Control FAQs

What Do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons are found throughout North America. Because they are excellent climbers and skilled swimmers, they’ve been able to spread out across the entire continent with little trouble. Another reason for their populating the land and its array of habitats is that these mammals are omnivorous, eating both plants and meat. Generally speaking, these critters are scavengers to the point where they will eat whatever they can find. Most humans who have had to call for professional raccoon control will know that the above point applies to them greedily investigating trash cans in residential neighborhoods. They don’t discriminate between caloric opportunities. And because their hands are fantastically designed to pry open sealed containers, they feel perfectly within their rights to take what they find until someone, or something, suggests otherwise.

That being established, a raccoon’s diet is largely dependent upon what’s available, and what’s available is contingent upon what the environment produces, in addition to seasonal variables. However, raccoons are not without their staples, among them being fruit and nuts. So make sure you don’t leave your trail mix (or GORP) outside after a night snacking on the back patio!

In the summer, when the getting is usually good, raccoons will climb fruit trees to find apples, cherries, or whatever else they can get their busy little claws on. If that food isn’t available, it isn’t unheard of for them to forage into the ground, collecting worms or insects. When summer turns to fall, raccoons will usually turn to nuts as their primary food source. They’ll hunt for acorns, walnuts, beechnuts, and the like. Finding rich foods like nuts before winter is vital for the raccoon, as she needs to store up fat before the long cold. If she can’t boost up here stores of fat, she’ll lack the requisite energy to survive winter. Of course, that is less of a problem here in Southern California, as raccoons have a viable habitat the year round, just like we humans like to brag to our out-of-town relatives about!

Grains, insects, eggs, fish, shellfish, frogs, snakes, and seeds are also viable caloric sources for raccoons. As we’ve mentioned, they’ll go with the flow. Unfortunately, that means that if there is a dearth of fish, nuts, fruit, or invertebrates to munch on in a local ecosystem, these critters will likely come knocking on your door for whatever you’ve got left unsealed and unprotected.

But before we dive into raccoon and human interaction (and what you can do to protect your premises), let’s take a brief look at raccoon behavior.

How Do Raccoons Behave?

Raccoons are common wildlife in San Diego. They are mainly a nocturnal animal, foraging at night, tipping over garbage cans, and eating leftover pet food. They are even known to enter through pet doors. They are also known to cause major damage to lawns and gardens, turning over sod and digging holes in the soil foraging for grubs and worms.

  • Activity – Raccoons have a social life outside of their wanton ways with which we are most familiar. As we mentioned they are nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be observed out and about in the daytime, it’s just less likely. They are most active during the spring, summer, and fall. In temperate climates, raccoons will be hibernating for much of the time. Here in San Diego, Temecula, and Orange County, we see raccoons the year round. As long as there are opportunities to eat and the weather doesn’t get too severely cold, raccoons will thrive! And while this is good news for them (it’s an arduous task to store up sufficient fat to last throughout the winter), it means there is no off-season when it comes to raccoon prevention and raccoon exclusion.
  • Reproduction – Reproductive practices begin toward the end of winter and beginning of spring. Sows, or female raccoons, have somewhere between one to six baby kits between April and May. These kits will stay with their mother for about a year, but until then they are mostly inseparable, as mothers are quite protective of their young. Speaking of which, we don’t recommend you attempt any kind of rodent removal services on your own, should you be faced with a mother and her kits. Leave the Orange County raccoon control to us here at Wildlife Removal Service. We will safely and effectively remove them from your yard, attic, or your business premises. Plus, we’ll make sure they don’t come back with our humane raccoon exclusion methods.
  • Dialogue – Somewhat amazingly, raccoons have their own rudimentary form of communication. What some might call a language is them using some 200 sounds and up to 15 different calls, each with their own unique meaning.
  • Abilities – Their claws are remarkable tools. They can open latches, bottles, jars, and many other items that might surprise you. These claws afford them the ability to climb as well, which makes them all the more difficult to detect and trap.
  • Social Behavior – Their social communities are interesting as well. After they actualize to become fully independent, usually around the one-year mark, adults will form pseudo-family groups usually around four to five in number. These groups are loosely knit, as they might go days or weeks without interacting. Somewhat solitary, somewhat social, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to these masked creatures.

What Diseases Do Raccoons Spread?

Most people’s minds go straight to rabies when they think of common diseases that raccoons are capable of spreading. Since rabies is contracted through saliva, the only way you would have to worry about contracting rabies is if you are in a head-on confrontation with a raccoon. Usually, raccoons will avoid confrontation. So unless you are planning on being an amateur raccoon control specialist (not something we recommend), you should be okay.

However, one aspect of a raccoon infestation that should get your attention is the risk of disease transmission through waste. Raccoon feces and urine are known to be connected with diseases such as giardia, roundworm, and leptospirosis.

  • Raccoon Roundworm – this parasite finds a home in a raccoon’s digestive tract. The parasitical eggs take after their folks by latching themselves onto the passing waste, making anyone who interacts with the fecal matter at risk of contraction. Most often this applies to pets more than people, but both can become infected. Symptoms of this condition include liver complications, loss of muscle control, fatigue, and even blindness if the eyes become infected. As far as we are concerned here at Wildlife Removal Service, that’s just one more reason to call in the San Diego critter catchers if you see raccoon droppings or other tell-tale signs!
  • Leptospirosis – An infection of the bacterial sort found in many animals, leptospirosis is expunged and released into an environment through a raccoon’s urine. Again, pets might take more interest than humans (ideally), yet it’s important to be aware that either can contract this infection, even if the contact is mild. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, jaundice, diarrhea, aching muscles, and headache.
  • Giardia – Giardiasis is another infection not exclusively carried and transmitted by raccoons. Yet raccoons carry this organism in their fecal matter. Unfortunately, it can be transmitted through contaminated water, soil, or really, any surface that the infection contacts. If a human were to contract this illness, symptoms typically would include cramps, dehydration, nausea, and dehydration.

What Are the Different Raccoon Control Methods?

Although we are roughly eight times their size and six times their weight, raccoons present threats to us that we are obligated to consider. Here are some practical methods of reducing the potential of disease on your property.

  • Raccoon Inspection – While we provide professional and affordable raccoon inspection services here at Wildlife Removal Service of San Diego and the O.C., you can take a look for yourself, too. You want to keep an eye out for anything that might cause or promote the likelihood of disease on your property or even within your home itself. Raccoons will typically designate one area as a “latrine”. These can be found in your garage, attic, outside a shed, or near a particularly wooded area close to your home.
  • Pest Control – As noted above, raccoons feed on invertebrates. If you are looking for a way to attract a host of critters from all around, a great way to advertise that your abode is open for business is to get yourself a pest problem. We don’t envy folks who have to deal with insect infestations and a critter management issue at the same time, so make sure you are proactive about dealing with the pests in or around your home.
  • Disinfection – Using a mask, goggles, long pants, boots, and gloves, remove any diseased organisms from your premises. Further, use appropriate disinfectants where any waste (like the aforementioned latrines) is found.

How Can I Keep My Home Safe From Raccoons?

Excellent question, we are thrilled you asked! The first thing that you should do is to remove the food and water sources found on your premises, where possible. If you have a pool, don’t forget to put a cover on. If you have a koi pond, that’s a little more difficult of a situation. In terms of food sources, make sure you secure garbage cans and remove trash bags that might be left exposed. Clean up after yourselves, too. Don’t leave out leftovers on the back patio after a night out. Otherwise, you might wake up to some unwelcome neighbors who had invited themselves in to stay for the night. Finally, if you are feeling particularly motivated, you can pick up fallen berries, fruit, and nuts that might have fallen in or around your yard. Birdseed is another food raccoons have no problem munching on, so keep that in mind if you have an accessible bird feeder on your lawn.

Where Do They Like To Hide?

During spring and summer. Raccoons in the Attic is a common problem. Mother raccoons are looking for safe places to give birth to their young. Regularly entering attics and crawl spaces, raccoons can cause serious damage, ripping off shingles, fascia, and rooftop vents. Once inside the attic, insulation may be torn up and displaced. Insulation on heating and cooling ducts may be ripped off and destroyed, too. Raccoons may also begin using an area of the attic for a latrine, and the ceiling beneath may become stained with urine, accompanied by a foul odor.

Other common raccoon activities include stealing fish from your pond, living underneath your porch, and even eating your crops, if you have any. If you are faced with any of the above predicaments, you might want to consider investing in an electric fence to dissuade raccoons from entry. Although it may not be practical or cheap, it’s worth considering. Consult your local animal control company (that’s us!) about what exclusion practices would be best for your home or commercial property.

Raccoons Are Annoying, But We Can Help

We’ve covered a broad range of raccoon-related topics here because it’s no secret that raccoons in San Diego can be no small annoyance. The prospect of them setting up camp in your attic, or really, anywhere on your premises, is nothing about which you should say “oh well, I hope it never happens to me!” Instead, making sure your grounds and home have the integrity necessary to deter raccoons from deeming your attic as an excellent nursery for the next few months or so. Understanding their biology, habitat, dietary practices, and general behavior is a great first step, but often times it’s best to have a wildlife control expert take a look at your homestead to be sure that you are set up for success.

Contact Wildlife Removal Service

We are critter catchers who value the safety and welfare of your family and home before all else. Our first priority is to find a safe yet effective solution when it comes to raccoon management and exclusion. We’ll utilize a variety of approaches, depending on the individual case. Our methods include installing one-way doors, utilizing repellents and eviction fluids, with physical capture and removal of the animal not off the table. We’ll do whatever is necessary to solve the issue. Whether you are in need of opossum control, rodent control (including rat removal), or even snake control, we’ve got you covered with experience, passion, and affordable prices. We’ll even handle the restoration and clean-up of your attic or yard after we are done solving the problem! Make sure you check out our Animal Exclusion and Prevention methods too, should you be looking for details about our animal control approach.

No matter the specifics, we will be communicative, dedicated, and efficient. Call us today if you need an emergency quote for raccoon control in San Diego or beyond! We’d love to show you how we consistently turn first-time customers into lifelong clients here at Wildlife Removal Service!