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Raccoon eyes staring back at a Brussell Exterminating Service Wildlife Control Specialist.  In the same photo, to the right of the “raccoon eyes,” is the opening that the raccoon made in the soffit to gain entry into the attic.  

 

Do you hear what I hear? 

Are you hearing loud “thumping-like” noises in your attic at night? Does it sound like something is having a party up there?  Most likely you’ve got a raccoon up there.  Raccoons are physically heavy with adults weighing, on average, 10 to 30 pounds and they are usually active at night.  So, you will definitely hear them, if they’ve gained entry into your attic.

Where do raccoons den?

In natural areas, raccoons typically den in hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, muskrat dens, haystacks, and rock crevices.  They may also den in barns and abandoned buildings. However, in urban and suburban settings, your attic, chimney, crawlspace, under deck or under porch becomes their temporary homes.  Raccoons do not hibernate; but, when ole’ man winter is severely in effect, they will hole up and become inactive for days, weeks or months- depending on the severity of the weather.  Just like you, they want to stay warm, too! “Burrrr.”

Raccoons are very strong.  They can lift a garage door!  Thus, opening up an area in a soffit or enlarging a slight opening in a fascia board or sub-fascia board to gain access into an attic, is common practice for raccoons.  The holes they make are larger than those made by smaller structure-infesting animals, and the holes are usually are discolored with black rub marks.  You may also see the raccoon’s tracks, which look like small “hands.”

Is there a raccoon and fleas connection?

Yes.  In addition to structural, lawn and garden damage and overturning trash cans in search of and to obtain food, raccoons may leave fleas in your attic, grass or anywhere the raccoon is travelling being that raccoons carry fleas as an ectoparasite (i.e. they are commonly a host for fleas).

What are raccoon latrines and why are they dangerous?

Raccoons defecate in communal sites called latrines. Raccoon feces are usually dark and tubular and have a pungent odor. Latrines may be found near fallen logs and woodpiles, around the base of trees, in garages, under decks, patios, and porches; and of course, in attics.

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Raccoons carry Baylisascaris, a roundworm that can be harmful to humans and other animals. The spread of Baylisascaris infection is a chain reaction and occurs as such: Roundworm develops to maturity in the intestines of the infected raccoon and produces millions of eggs that are passed in the feces (i.e. the latrines).  Young raccoons become infected by eating the infected eggs during foraging, feeding and grooming. Adult raccoons become infected by eating rodents, rabbits and birds that are infected with the Baylisascaris larvae.  People become infected by accidentally ingesting infective eggs in soil, water or on objects contaminated by raccoon feces. When humans ingest these infected eggs, they hatch into larvae in the person’s intestines and travel throughout their body, affecting organs and muscles.

Anyone who is exposed to environments where raccoons frequent is potentially at risk. Young children or developmentally disabled persons are at highest risk for infection because they may be more likely to put contaminated fingers, soil, or objects into their mouths.

What to do if you find a raccoon latrine or believe raccoons are in or near your property?

Take prompt action.  Eggs in newly deposited feces take two to four weeks to become infective.  Thus, prompt and proper removal of the latrine and cleaning of the area may prevent possible infection.  It is also imperative to remove raccoons to help prevent future risk of exposure and new sites of contamination; in addition to preventing further damage to your property, lawns and gardens.

 

Call Brussell Exterminating Service today at 301-434-5610 and speak with a Brussell Wildlife Control Specialist for a free consultation to identify if you have raccoon wildlife in or around your property and to discuss raccoon removal, latrine clean up, exclusion work, and other related services that Brussell provides.

 

Sources for this blog post: CDC.gov, MD PATM Wildlife Control, and Brussell Exterminating Service Wildlife Control Specialist

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