Do Raccoons in Southern Ontario Hibernate?

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When it comes to wildlife behaviour, especially in suburban areas, there’s much to learn and understand. One notorious neighbourhood prowler is the raccoon, a prolific scavenger and a constant nuisance in our neighbourhoods.  There’s a prevailing notion in Southern Ontario that raccoons hibernate during the colder months. However, this is not the case, although they are much less visible during the colder months. Many people assume raccoons hibernate all winter. The truth is, raccoons don’t hibernate; they enter into a long period of rest known as a ‘torpor.’ Today, in Home Free Wildlife’s blog, let’s dig deeper into what makes these creatures such intriguing members of our local landscapes.

Where Do They Seek Out Shelter?

The natural habitats of raccoons are various and usually involve environments that offer adequate shelter from the harsh winters, such as hollow trees and caves. But, with an increasing intrusion of human habitats into nature, these clever critters have found alternative habitations beyond their natural shelters.

Suburban homes offer the warmth and safety needed to weather winter. Attics, sheds, garages, and chimneys have become substitute caves for them. The neighbourhood raccoons are opportunists at their best, seeing your cozy home as an appealing retreat from the icy outdoors. Add the fact that our garbage provides enough sustenance to keep them beyond well-fed, and it’s no wonder we are seeing a healthy population everywhere.

Winter Sleeping Patterns

A characteristic aspect of raccoons in winter is their uncanny ability to sleep for weeks when the weather hits subzero. This extended snoozing is not actual hibernation but a state of induced torpor. Unlike hibernation, where animals go into deep sleep and don’t eat or excrete, raccoons in torpor do wake up periodically, mainly to scrounge for food, take care of bodily functions, and perhaps even explore their surroundings.

These curious creatures are adaptability champs, modifying their sleeping patterns in tune with food availability. If there are slight winter warm-ups and food becomes readily accessible, raccoons will rouse themselves to eat and replenish.

Foraging Habits in Colder Weather

Raccoons utilize the winter months to fully depend on the fat they store during their pre-winter feast. Even though raccoons have a reputation for being expert scavengers, foraging becomes a secondary survival tactic in winter. The delicious fall cuisines, rich in fat content, render raccoons ready for their long winter nap.

However, the unusually industrious members of the raccoon community do not shy away from exploring human trash cans during the wintry months when their standard natural food sources become concealed under thick blankets of snow and ice. To them, even a measly garbage bin assumes gourmet dimensions!

Discourage Them from Making Your Property Home

If you’ve had encounters with raccoons in the past or you dread the possibility of one, knowing how to keep them away might be useful. The most crucial step in deterring a raccoon invasion is ensuring your trash is securely kept. If a raccoon finds it challenging to obtain food nearby, it may be more likely to take its leave.

Managing your compost to avoid easy pickings for wildlife is another significant step. Any discarded or fallen food should also be promptly removed from your outdoor spaces. Be mindful that raccoons are dextrous, and their adaptability allows them to open doors and containers easily. Protecting your property from potential damage caused by these agile critters can require innovative problem-solving strategies.

Hire A Professional

Navigating a raccoon invasion in your home can be stressful- but it doesn’t have to be. A professional pest removal service, such as our team at Home Free Wildlife and Pest Removal, can take this burden off your shoulders. With our seasoned expertise, safety commitment, and a broad array of wildlife-handling know-how, we stand ready to ensure your peace of mind.

Understanding that your home is an invaluable investment, our quick-response team is prepared to deal with even the most cunning raccoon break-ins. Swift, professional interventions are crucial to keep the possible mess these critters can create at bay.

As you can see in this video, successful and safe raccoon eviction and prevention is not a simple task:

To sum up, raccoons in Southern Ontario, while unlikely to hibernate in the strict definition of the term, will adapt their behaviours to survive the cold. This adaptability often brings them closer to our lives and homes. Following the preventative measures highlighted in this article can help keep your homes raccoon-free. Remember, though, professional help is just a call away. Having experts on board means ensuring a critter-free home swiftly and efficiently, putting a relieved smile on your face!


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