Raccoons are one of the most amazing species of nuisance wildlife you will come across. They are extremely smart and agile and have adapted very well to living in your neighbourhoods. They have been known to easily open sealed coolers, get into cooky bags without ripping the packaging and obviously can get into “wildlife-proof” waste bins at will. Having said all that, they are without a doubt the most troublesome and resilient pests you will encounter. Having a raccoon break into your attic is a big problem, especially once you factor in how likely it is that babies are involved. If a raccoon breaks into your attic between February and August, it is almost always going to be a mom who is either pregnant or recently gave birth to her kits. This is a delicate situation and needs to be handled properly to ensure the safety of the newborns as well as the mom. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to deal with this scenario safely and quickly.
Baby Raccoons 101
Raccoons will mate during the winter months, I mean winters are cold in Southern Ontario; can’t blame them. The babies will typically be born in March and April. There have been instances of females having second litters later in the summer. This happens due to the loss of the first litter or as the result of a second pregnancy. However, a second litter is a very rare occurrence so you are safe to assume once summer hits there will be no more surprises. Pregnant raccoons will seek out safe, quiet and dark places to build a nest and have their litter. Historically they would use hollowed-out trees, brush piles and abandoned burrows. With residential developments taking over the landscape, they have adapted to breaking into your attic, shed or setting up under your deck.
A litter consists of 3-5 kits who will be heavily dependant on the mom until they are mobile. It usually takes between 6-8 weeks for the young ones to be able to move around on their own, and can take up to 8 months for them to be independent enough to leave the comforts of your home permanently. If you do not hire a professional wildlife and pest removal company you may be cohabitating with these pests until fall.
Female raccoons will instinctively return to the spot they were born to have their litters. So it’s in your best interest to deal with any problem quickly. Raccoons carry several diseases and can cause significant damage to your property. You don’t want them as seasonal guests every spring and summer. As cute as they are on Youtube when they are living in your attic and using your roof as a latrine it wears thin quickly.
How Do You Know If You Have Babies in Your Attic?
There are a few indicators to keep an eye and an ear out for that will let you know if you have babies or just a raccoon or two up there partying. The most common ones are:
- Vocalization – both the mom and the kits will be very vocal during the first few weeks especially. Watch the video further down to hear the rather distinctive sound young raccoons make.
- Sightings – a mother raccoon will be very active and will be seen coming and going several times a day as she cares for her young. You will also be able to see protruding nipples on the animal if it’s a mom who recently gave birth.
- Sounds – all wildlife that breaks into attics make noises, but raccoons are the largest. Hearing loud scratching and thumping noises and lots of activity in general are good indicators that you have a family up there.
The reality of raccoons breaking into homes is if it happens during the spring 9 out of 10 times it is a pregnant female, plain and simple. Males rarely break into homes, and if they do it is usually to kill the offspring in a recent litter. Male raccoons view the younger generation as potential competition down the road and will eliminate them if given the opportunity. This is one of the rare occasions when dealing with nuisance wildlife that your assumption will usually be correct.
Safely Dealing With Baby Raccoons
The raccoon removal process, relatively speaking is simple for trained wildlife technicians. The trick is safely evicting the mom while simultaneously ensuring the babies are removed and reunited with the mom in quick succession. If left apart too long or permanently, the babies have no chance of surviving their first week. This is how that process looks:
- The first step is to have a professional assess your home, confirm the presence of babies and determine the appropriate course of action. Trained wildlife and pest removal technicians will be able to put together a game plan that will ensure effectiveness and safety for your home and the animals.
- The next step is to physically remove the babies from the attic. First, you have to thoroughly search the area and make sure you’re not leaving any behind. then they are carefully removed and placed in an insulated box near the exit point. The mom can easily find them there and relocate them. Check out the video below as Jessie completes the process:
- The last step is to install a one-way door system. This allows the mother to leave through this contraption and lock herself out of the home. The babies will be lace beside the exit point and them om will be able to grab her little ones and relocate them to safety.
The important thing here is to make sure the babies are safe while the mom figures out things are safe and leave the attic, Because male raccoons will be looking to harm them as well as other predators in the areas, placing them in an installed, protected enclosure is necessary. The last big consideration is making sure you have created an environment that not only protects the home from future entries but allows the opportunity for mom to easily leave and find her kits.