‘Tis the season! In winter, raccoons enter a hibernation-like state called torpor and will spend most of the season curled up in their cozy dens, resting and staying warm.
For most raccoons, especially youngsters who have recently left their mothers, an attic looks like a ideal den. They’re dry, warm, insulated, and inaccessible to larger predators like coyotes. A female raccoon also instinctively knows that this same den will be ideal for raising her own kits next year. Perfect!
The problem is that this arrangement doesn’t work out so well for raccoons or for us. Through no fault of their own, raccoons can cause a lot damage with their pee, poop, and chewing. This often leads to them being relocated— which they do not survive— or being killed.
Please take a moment to prevent this from happening. Make sure that there are absolutely no entrances that raccoons or other animals can get into your attic. There should be no gaps or loose pieces soffits or eaves, and your chimney and vents should have secure caps. Be sure that any windows are securely shut with no large spaces. Be sure to also trim back any branches that could give raccoons an easy route to access your roof. Putting strong-smelling compounds like Vicks vaporub or vinegar near all possible entry points can also help make it inhospitable through winter.
If you do end up with unwanted guests, please don’t kill them! Humane hazing through bright lights and loud noises can get the critters to move out on their own, and you can make sure their entry points are all closed once they are gone. We can coexist with our wild neighbors as long as we take steps to prevent them from mistaking our homes for safe dens.