It’s a situation that happens to every year: a home owner discovers that a raccoon has tried to raise a family in an attic or crawlspace. When Mom is out looking for food, the home owner brings the kits to a wildlife rehabilitator— often refusing to take no for an answer— and assume that the mother will simply leave now that her kits are gone.
This is the absolute worst way to remove a “nuisance” animal from your home. Like human mothers, raccoons are extremely dedicated, loving, and protective. If they come home to find their kits missing, they won’t just shrug it off. We have seen raccoons rip apart shingles, chew into soffits, climb down chimneys, and even run frantically into living rooms and bedrooms, desperately trying to find their kidnapped babies. A cheap, simple issue then becomes a series of expensive repairs for the home owner.
It’s also hard on us. Raccoons are expensive to raise, require hundreds of hours of labor, and need tons of space, and most rehabilitators are out of resources for them by mid-summer. Many kidnapped raccoon kits end up with nowhere to go because rehabilitators simply don’t have the ability to take them all.
Luckily, there are humane ways to handle a mama raccoon in your attic.
One option is the have Mom move the kits out herself by using bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells to convince her that this is an inhospitable place to raise a family. A radio, lamp, and a rag covered in Vicks Vaporub is a good start! She will head out on her own and take the babies with her.
Alternatively, you can remove the kits while Mama is away and put them in a box or basket in an outdoor space, as close as possible to where they were found. Be sure to wear gloves when doing this because even newborn raccoons can transmit disease. Put an external heat source, such as a hand warmer, rice sock, or hot water bottle, with the kits to keep them warm, and give them space overnight so she can retrieve them and move them somewhere else.
Once the family is gone, permanently close whatever entry point the mother used to get into your home. Even she will not be back herself, other animals will take advantage of any home that has weak spots where they can enter freely. If you’re not sure how to find and close the entry points, contact a nuisance wildlife operator or home improvement expert for help.
Please don’t make a tough situation worse by kidnapping baby animals! Be kind and protect your property by choosing humane solutions.