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The Common Raccoon is between 33 to 45 in.
(84 to 104.5 cm) long and weighs 7 to 20 lb. (3 to 9 kg).
It has dexterous hands. Each hand and foot has five fingers
and toes. Common Raccoons are stocky animals with short
legs and small, rounded ears. Their fur is gray, with dark
black markings around their eyes, and black bands on
their tail. Their belly and muzzle are lighter colored
while the feet are darker gray. Raccoons have coarse,
medium-length fur and a very bushy tail.
Raccoons are curious, unique, and intelligent creatures.
These characteristics help them survive in the wild, but can
also make for annoying neighbors. Wild raccoons accustomed
to being fed by well-intentioned people will generally loose their
natural fear of humans and seek to move closer to their food source-your house.
Once raccoons take up residence in an attic or outbuildings they can become very destructive and difficult to remove. Malnutrition, diseases like rabies, and predation by humans, Coyotes and Bobcats take their toll, but raccoon populations are not in decline in most areas of Texas.
Raccoons have excellent night vision and an acute sense of hearing. They are very agile climbers and strong swimmers. They use their nimble fingers to feel stream bottoms for food, to climb trees and to open containers and garbage cans. They can find their way into a house to get food. Their diet includes fruits and nuts, insects and aquatic invertebrates, fish, small rodents, frogs, bird eggs, carrion and human garbage.
Raccoons are almost exclusively nocturnal. During the day they sleep in dens in the trees. During cold winter periods, they may sleep for an extended period, but do not hibernate. They are primarily solitary, and will only gather with other raccoons during breeding season.
Males reach sexual maturity at 2 years; females at 1 year. Their mating season is from mid to late summer. Sixty to 74 days after mating, up to four cubs will be born. Baby raccoons' ears and eyes open about 18 to 24 days after birth. They can walk around by the time they are four to six weeks old. Although they are weaned by three months, they remain with their mothers for another year. Males do not stay to help raise the young. Raccoons can live 10 to 15 years in the wild.
Raccoons prefer brushy or wooded areas near streams, lakes or swamps, although they can live close to developed areas if sufficient food, water and cover are provided. Though they prefer woodlands, raccoons can live practically anywhere and have adapted well to human habitats.
Raccoons are common throughout Texas and North America.
Did you know?
The name "raccoon" came from an Algonquian Indian word arakun, which means "he scratches with his hands." During the 1700s, American colonists dropped the "a" in arakun, and the name became raccoon
Signs of an Infestation
The key signs of a raccoon infestation are both visual and audible. Damage to a home’s insulation, wood, shingles, electrical wiring, walls or other parts of the structure is a telltale sign that a raccoon has taken up residence inside. Another indication of a raccoon infestation is the presence of droppings, urine stains, or built-up materials from
creating a nest.
Additionally, raccoons often raid, and can make a mess of, contents in garbage cans while they are in search of food. If a homeowner notices trash dispersed on the property, raccoons could be to blame. Raccoon paw prints may also be visible in the yard.
Raccoons sometimes kill poultry, destroy bird nests, and damage gardens or crops, so any signs of these types of activities can also mean there is a raccoon infestation. Hearing loud thuds and noises from raccoon movement can also signify a homeowner has raccoons in the home.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
There are various precautions that homeowners can take to try to avoid a raccoon infestation from taking root. First, raccoons can find access into homes through broken vents, holes, uncapped chimneys and other openings along the roof, which is why homeowners should regularly inspect, repair and seal any of these or other potential points of entry. Loose siding and shingles should also be repaired, and it’s also helpful to install a mesh cover or cap over chimneys and other exposed openings to prevent entry.
Homeowners should store trash in sealed areas, ideally as a locked shed or outhouse. Raccoons are very adept at learning how to open garbage cans, so if trash cans are kept out in the open, it’s best to use tightly fitting, animal-proof lids to avoid unwanted attention from hungry raccoons on the prowl for food. Birdseed, bird feeders and fountains should also be removed, as they are sources of sustenance to raccoons and other wildlife. Likewise, built up debris, brush and leaves can serve as perfect hiding spots and dwellings for raccoons, so it’s important to regularly rid the yard of these piles. Also, consider storing firewood, which raccoons may use to help build a shelter, at least 20 feet from the house during the cooler months.
If an infestation is suspected and you need additional information regarding how to get rid of raccoons, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect the property and formulate a plan to get rids of raccoons. The Animal Services Unit does not rent or loan out traps in the absence of an animal bite. Should you trap a raccoon in your personal trap the animal services unit will relocate the animal to a suitable habitat.