Raccoons are among nature’s cleverest mischief-makers, and they can quickly become problem pests, especially in residential areas. Here are some frequently asked questions about these masked bandits.
- Are Raccoons Rodents?
- Do Raccoons Have Thumbs?
- Why Do Raccoons Touch Everything?
- What Do Raccoons Do During the Day?
- Are Raccoons Dangerous?
- Do Raccoons Eat Cats?
- What Can I Do About Problem Raccoons?
Many people assume that raccoons are rodents, but they’re from the procyonid genus. These small mammalian carnivores have powerful jaws and teeth. Distantly related to cats and dogs, they share a common evolutionary ancestor with bears. Endlessly adaptive, raccoons are among the more intelligent mammal species.
Another popular misconception is that raccoons have opposable thumbs due to their ability to grip and manipulate items in their grasp. Instead, raccoons have five remarkably dexterous toes on each of their front paws, making them excellent foragers and expert trash can raiders.
Raccoons are known for touching everything around them. They have highly-developed nerves in the pads of their front paws that function almost like a second set of eyes, helping them identify objects and food sources. Since they are typically nocturnal, raccoons rely on touch and scent more than they do on sight.
Most raccoons sleep during the day in dens they build near food sources, naturally-occurring or artificial. Occasionally, female raccoons will scavenge during daylight hours to feed their young or seek a better shelter if food becomes scarce or changes make it less safe. If you see a raccoon behaving strangely during the daytime, do not approach it, as this may be a sign of illness.
Raccoons can be dangerous. They are surprisingly strong for their size, have sharp teeth and claws, and may attack humans or pets when they perceive a threat. Additionally, they may carry diseases like rabies, distemper, and parvo, which can be passed to humans and pets via bites and bodily fluids, and roundworm, which is transmitted via raccoon feces.
Rabies is a particular concern, as raccoons are one of the primary carriers of this viral illness in the Eastern United States. This list of symptoms and behaviors to look for will help you spot raccoons that may have rabies.
Raccoons are opportunistic feeders, but they don’t see cats or small dogs as prey. They may, however, attack a pet if they feel threatened or if their offspring are nearby. The real danger to pets comes from potential disease exposure.
The best way to deal with problem raccoons is to avoid attracting them in the first place. Raccoons are opportunists and will take advantage of any access to food or shelter you give them. Don’t feed your pets outdoors, but if you must, don’t leave the food out overnight when raccoons are active.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to exclude them, you may still find raccoons on your property. The safest way to handle raccoons is to seek the services of a qualified professional to trap and remove them.
Trust Twin Forks Pest Control® for Raccoon Control
Twin Forks Pest Control® has been eliminating pests, including raccoons, for over 20 years. Our trained wildlife experts will rid your property of unwanted pests, and we offer year-round protection plans so that your home stays pest-free. At the first sign of problems, contact us for a free estimate by calling (631) 287-9020 if you’re in the Southampton region, (631) 324-9020 if you’re in or around Easthampton, or (631) 298-0500 if you’re in or around Southold. We look forward to hearing from you.