Raccoons are medium-sized, stocky animals that are easily recognized by their "masked" appearance. They're primarily nocturnal; in fact, if you see adult raccoons during the daytime, there's a chance that they're sick.
A lot of folks believe that raccoons are rodents, but they're not. They're actually more closely related to pandas than to rodents. They also score very highly on scales of animal intelligence, and are able to figure out things like how to open gate latches or how to open the lids of "animal-resistant" garbage cans.
They also have occasionally been observed making use of rudimentary tools, such as using a stick to open a latch.
Raccoons also have excellent dexterity in their front paws. Although not fully opposable, their thumbs are dexterous enough to allow them to manipulate prey and objects, as well as to get into places where they're not exactly welcomed with open arms.
They also have nerve endings in their hands that become more sensitive when they are wet, which is why raccoons "wash" their food before eating it. When their hands are wet, they can more easily detect whether the food is fresh and edible.
Raccoons are incredibly resourceful animals who are able to learn and remember the solutions to problems, making them a real challenge to control.
In nature, they prefer living in hollow trees (usually in the upper part of the tree); but when hollow trees are hard to find, they'll often take up residence in caves, burrows abandoned by other animals, and of course, human-occupied buildings. When they decide to move into a human home, raccoons may choose to live in the attic, the chimney, the crawl space, the roof soffits, or pretty much anywhere where there is sufficient space and they don't think they'll be disturbed.
In terns of diet, the raccoon is one of the most omnivorous of all animals. There are few things that they won't eat. In nature, they prefer invertebrates such as insects and earthworms, small vertebrates such as frogs and fish, and plant foods such as fruits, nuts, and berries.
As their natural habitat continues to shrink, however, raccoons have easily adapted to living among humans and eating our leftovers, frequently raiding our garbage cans and dumpsters.
When raccoons get into homes, they create a health hazard. Like most other wild animals, raccoon droppings can harbor an assortment of insect pests, along with disease-causing fungi. Their parasites (fleas, lice, ticks, and mites) are also capable of transmitting diseases.
Raccoons also have fairly high incidences of rabies and distemper, and should be avoided when encountered in the wild. You should especially avoid raccoons that seem sluggish, unsteady, or "friendly." Any of these symptoms might mean the animal is infected with rabies.
Wild raccoons may also attack humans if they're cornered or surprised. Although raccoons will run away from humans most of the time, if they are trapped, cornered, surprised, or defending their young, they may attack -- and they are strong enough and fast enough to put a serious hurting on a human.
Raccoon control consists of trapping the raccoons, and then raccoon-proofing the home so they can't get back in. In addition, it's helpful to practice good sanitation practices (especially choosing high-quality garbage cans with lockable lids) to make your home less attractive to them.
Because raccoons are highly intelligent, very strong, very dexterous, and very adaptable, raccoon-proofing a home can be a real challenge, even for skilled animal control operators. Raccoons can figure out how to get around any but the most well-done exclusion techniques. You really need to go over an entire house with a fine-toothed comb to keep raccoons out -- which is exactly what we do, of course.
The point is that raccoon control is not a do-it-yourself job. They are strong animals with the potential to hurt you, they have a high rate of infection with several serious diseases, and they are comfortable at heights that make most humans dizzy. So please, don't even think about trying DIY raccoon control. Seriously. Your chances of success are very low. Your chances of hurting yourself, however, are very high.
Call us instead. We've done thousands of raccoon removal and exclusion jobs, and we have the equipment and personnel necessary to do it right, and to do it safely.
Here are some pictures of raccoon-removal and exclusion work that we've done in Birmingham and throughout the area.
For more information about flying raccoon-removal or any of our quality services, please call us today.