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A raccoon is small, with gray fur, and the famous "black mask" across their eyes. They often have bushy tails that alternate between black and gray stripes. This mask and their cat-like appearance has made many people consider raccoons "cute," but the fact remains that raccoons are wild animals and they can cause damage to property, pets and people.
Raccoons are unique than other urban animals because they are renowned for their cleverness, often able to do things like lift and remove lids from garbage cans. They also have very dexterous, with paws that resemble five-fingered hands, that allow them to open jars and even doorknobs.
Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat just about anything. They love to eat fruit and nuts and plants, but they also have teeth designed for tearing and chewing so they are more than happy to eat meat.
Raccoons will open garbage cans or and dig into containers to get food. They can also pry off roof shingles to seek shelter.
Raccoons also like to eat beetles, grubs and other small insects and invertebrates.
Raccoons have been known to eat birds and other prey, but they much prefer to eat things that are easier to catch. They will eat bird eggs, for example, or fish in some areas. They also will seek out whatever kinds of food that you might have around your home - including the leftovers that you threw away into the garbage.
Property damage caused by raccoons is most commonly due to their desire to get to food and seeking shelter. A raccoon will often try to find shelter in attics and other areas in your home. A mother raccoon and her kits have been known to pry up roofing tiles to get access into a home. Once inside a home, raccoons will leave behind urine and feces.
Raccoons can damage other structures around your home in search of food. Garbage cans, containers and other structures can be torn apart by their very strong, adept hands that are each topped with strong, non-retractable claws.
Given that raccoons like to dig for grubs and beetles and other insects, they might also dig up your garden. They are also opportunistic eaters and might eat plants, vegetables and fruit that you are growing in your garden.
Finally, raccoons are not generally aggressive, but if they are threatened they are known to defend themselves viciously. Their claws and hand-like paws make them formidable fighters, and your pets could end up at the wrong end of them if you are not careful.
Raccoons are also potentially dangerous because they carry diseases - either themselves or from the parasites on their bodies. Some of the diseases associated with raccoons include:
Rabies - they are known carriers of the disease. They are likely to bite if threatened and your pets or members of your family could end up having to receive rabies treatments.
Lyme disease - from the ticks that their bodies often carry. Ticks like to jump from one species to the next.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - another disease common with ticks. It can be a very serious illness that can lead to death if not properly treated.
Tick Paralysis - a disease that originates from a toxin that ticks secrete when the bite.
Typhus - fleas and ticks are known to carry this very dangerous disease and transmit it when they bite.
Bubonic plague - fleas carry this disease and it can be very painful and dangerous for those who become infected.
The best way to stop raccoons from getting on your property are to do things that prevent them from coming there at all. This includes:
Tightening lids on containers such as garbage cans and any other containers that might have food in them.
Keep food indoors. Even if you have pets that are outdoor animals, try to keep their food in a secure location. Any ready food source is likely to bring your pets and raccoons into close proximity with each other.
Having a motion-activated light on your property can help. Being nocturnal, raccoons have sensitive eyes. Bright lights and loud sounds often scare them away and once they are scared away they probably won't be back.
No matter how cute you might find them, do not feed raccoons. Doing so will not only bring those raccoons back, but could bring others around.
Inspect your home, particularly the roof and access to the attic. If there are holes or loose shingles, then get them repaired.
As your local pest control experts, Ehrlich understands the stress and frustration that can be caused by a raccoon infestation. All Ehrlich Technicians providing raccoon removal services are individually licensed to perform wildlife trapping as required by state law.
In addition to baiting and trapping services, Ehrlich technicians will also make recommendations to customers on how to best prevent future raccoon infestations.
Experiencing problems with raccoons? Call Ehrlich today at 1-800-837-5520 or contact us online to set up a free inspection of your home or business.
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