Along with the flowers and birds, spring brings the whole pest rogue’s gallery back out of the woodwork. Chief among them: the rascally raccoon. Every spring, nature’s masked bandit returns, ready to pilfer, plunder, and pillage whatever it can get its creepy little hands on. If they’re given half an opportunity to make your home their mark, they’ll take it.
Don’t let that happen. Consider this your varment police report on all things raccoon this spring. Here’s everything you need to know about where raccoons are, what they’re doing, and how to prevent them. With a little due diligence, you can make sure nature’s burglars go home empty handed.
Where they are
Raccoons spend winter huddled up in small burrows and nests. They prefer to find a pre-existing space to inhabit, but they’ll make their own, too. These burrows can be hollow trees or logs, abandoned animal dens, or the undersides of rocks and upturned root systems. They could also be under your porch or deck, in your window wells, or even in your home’s insulation.
Just because you see a raccoon near your home doesn’t mean they’re necessarily living nearby, however. Raccoons will range up to 18 miles from their home turf in search of food. Oftentimes, a pleasing (for a raccoon) aroma or other stimulant will draw a raccoon far from home. Just because they’re not from around your home doesn’t mean they won’t stay, however. Raccoons are opportunistic to their core. If they see a good way to stay safe and fed, they’ll take it.
Why they’re back
Raccoons typically mate between February and March in Ohio, though it could start in January and end in June. Mating season is the only time of year the usually-solitary pests seek each other out to pair up. After mating season ends and offspring are born, they stay with their mother for months or even longer. During this time, mothers may seek extra food so she has the energy to feed her babies. You see raccoons more often this time of year simply because they’re busy!
Along with their parental needs, raccoons simply have more reasons to come out in the spring. Raccoons tend to live near natural sources of water, and eat the flora and fauna near that water. When spring rolls around, raccoon food sources start re-appearing around the same time the water thaws. Suddenly, raccoons can regain the energy reserves they dipped into over their sleepy winter. When raccoons get up in spring, they have time to make up for and the resources to make up for it. All they have to do is get started. So they do.
What they’re up to
Simply put: they’re eating, possibly fighting, and generally making a mess of things. Raccoons are many things, but despite their burglar-like appearance, they are not subtle. If something stands between a raccoon and its food, that thing is going to be shoved aside, smashed through, or circumvented. The little pests are notorious for knocking over garbage cans and ripping into garbage bags. They’ll smash, dig, tear, or their way past anything that stops them from getting at that garbage.
They’re not just interested in your garbage, either. Gardens, bird feeders, chicken coops, and even food inside your home is fair game. Raccoons have an uncanny way of finding the places they’re not supposed to be and trying to get into them. Raccoons may attempt to climb into chimneys, vents, decks, gardens, window wells, or even porches. If they’re allowed to get comfortable, they won’t be in any big hurry to leave, either. Unlike opossums, raccoons aren’t nomadic. If they decide to take up residence, they’re staying for the long haul.
How to prevent them
Preventing raccoons is relatively straight-forward, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Start with your garbage. Keep all garbage you take outside in sealed plastic bags. Make sure these bags don’t smell or leak. Tie down the lids of your garbage cans with bungee cords to make them hard for raccoons to open. Rinse out any disposable containers before you toss them in the dumpster. Make sure you clean the dumpster about once every two months to prevent smells or residue.
Next, you’ve got to block off access points. Install strong wire mesh screens under your porch, deck, deck and porch stairs, vents, and chimney. Look for damaged boards, siding, baseboarding, or foundation around the perimeter that raccoons could nest in or squeeze through. Keep your yard clean of clutter like fallen branches, seeds, bird feed, and lawn clippings. If you have an outdoor garden, protect it from raccoons with a chicken wire fence.
If you’ve tried everything, and raccoons still have you at wit’s end, don’t blame yourself. There’s a reason raccoons have lasted this long: they’re really good at what they do. Luckily, we’re even better at what we do.
Next time you’re dealing with a particularly crafty raccoon, give Varment Guard a call anytime. We’ve yet to meet a raccoon clever enough to get by us, and yours won’t be the first.BACK TO BLOG