It is a constant struggle to separate myth from reality regarding raccoon problems. Every day we are bombarded with so much information about anything and everything that differentiating between genuine and not-so-genuine news has become a complicated game. If you’re reading this article, it’s definitely not by chance. We bet you are like so many others who, looking to dispel their doubts, approach us with the question “What problems can raccoons cause in my home?”
The question arises from an understandable concern. Our home is one of the most valuable things we have. It’s where we live and raise our children and, of course, we paid for it with our sacrifices. So if you reside in an urban or suburban area populated by raccoons, the idea of critters invading your sacred space may cause anxiety. Maybe you’re noticing signs of raccoon activity in your yard or, even worse, the growling and scratching noises you hear after sunset make you believe a raccoon is already living in your house.
Whatever the case, we want to help you understand the seriousness of the problem and get all the facts about having raccoons around your property. You will learn that the problems raccoons can cause in your house are varied.
Some problems caused by raccoons are just annoyances that will cost you time to fix. Others are of an entirely different nature that if left unchecked or not taken care of may cause severe damage to your house and cost a lot of money to be repaired. In any case, raccoons can be hazardous to human health and need to be treated cautiously.
The good news is that despite the problems you’re facing at the moment, there is always a way to get raccoons out of your house if you act promptly and diligently. So the right question to ask yourself is not “What problems can raccoons cause in my house?” but “What problems will I allow raccoons to cause in my house?”
Raccoon Problems In The Yard
If you live in an area inhabited by raccoons, you should be aware that sooner or later they will visit your property, but only if you give them a reason to do it.
Raccoons become active after twilight and their mission is to find food and water. Your house can be an excellent source of both if you’re not careful. For instance, leaving your pet’s food out at night or not protecting your trash can are habits that can easily invite raccoons.
When a raccoon visits your yard, one of the most likely disturbances he will create is tipping over your trash can and scattering the garbage all around. The trash can is the easiest source of food for raccoons, and cleaning up the mess is a big waste of time for you.
But raccoons love fruits and vegetables too. Your fruit trees, berries and vegetable gardens can be very attractive to them. Once they find your garden, the raccoons will eat the produce and enjoy it before you do. The unexpected loss of the produce you invested so much time in is irritating and disappointing.
The same frustration and annoyance can result when raccoons damage your garden and flowers. It’s not unusual for raccoons to destroy your flowers, dig holes and pull back sod in an attempt to find grubs living in the soil. Letting a raccoon visit your garden can make all your hard work gardening go to waste and ruin your property’s beauty.
Since raccoons are omnivorous, they will eat anything. So whatever edibles you have on your property can be sources of food that attract raccoons. Oftentimes, they will destroy bird feeders to reach the seeds inside. In their quest for food, raccoons can even kill and eat small poultry or the fish in your pond.
As you can see, a raccoon can cause plenty of aggravation just by roaming around your yard. Money-wise the damage is usually limited, but it can take quite a toll in terms of frustration. (It is a different story if raccoons use your yard as a latrine, but we will talk about that later in the section dedicated to the dangers raccoons pose to your health.)
Raccoon Problems In Your House
While the issues caused by raccoon problems in your yard mainly generate frustration and can be easily fixed, a different scenario unfolds if the raccoons enter your house. We’re not talking about an occasional visit inside your house. We’re talking about raccoons who feel so at home in your house that they decide to move in.
The reason raccoons may make their den in your attic, chimney or walls is primarily to raise a family. Your house is warm and dry and offers good protection for the newborn raccoons. In fact, you can mainly expect raccoon disruptions during the breeding season, from February to May. During this period, you may need to pay extra attention to your property in order to detect signs of raccoons living inside and take action immediately.
Though quite small, raccoons are surprisingly strong. If they decide your house has to become their den, they will find a way to get in. If they can’t find an easy way in like an open vent hole or another opening, they will damage the structure of your house.
Raccoons have dexterous and powerful fingers that can easily tear off siding or wood planks. They can even rip apart shingles and wooden roofing to create a hole big enough to go in and out of your house. The damage can be quite costly to fix and, if not detected quickly, can lead to further problems from water leaking on rainy days.
But this is only scratching the surface of the problems raccoons can cause. The damage from entering your house is nothing compared to the havoc a raccoon can wreak once inside. A raccoon can destroy your house in two weeks. That’s why any raccoon problem needs to be addressed with urgency.
The first problem raccoons may cause in your house is trampling the insulation in your attic. Raccoons often tear apart insulation in the walls, pipes and air ducts to use as nesting material. Apparently they are also passionate about tearing up air ducts and chewing on wires, pipes and sometimes wooden beams.
It’s not difficult to imagine how much it would cost to replace the insulation, the electrical systems and the pipes destroyed by raccoon problems. If a raccoon is secretly living in your home for quite a while, the extent of the damage can be severe and daunting to fix. In the meantime, the destroyed insulation will not protect your house from heat and cold, resulting in higher heating and cooling bills. Not to mention that the damaged electrical systems and water pipes can easily cause a fire or flooding, seriously jeopardizing your property. Do you see why there is no time to waste when dealing with raccoons?
Health Risks of Raccoons
This is the last kind of problem we’ll discuss, but it’s certainly not the least important. Even though raccoon-related health problems are sporadic, your family, particularly your children, may be at risk.
Raccoons are rabies carriers, but the chances of being bitten by a rabid raccoon are quite remote. But if an accident does happen, rabies can be fatal to humans if not promptly treated.
More worrying instead are the droppings raccoons leave behind when visiting your property. It may happen if they visit your garden, but it is definitely an issue if they live in your house.
The feces and the urine may, for instance, be carriers of leptospirosis or salmonella. Though the latter can be cured by hospitalization, leptospirosis can cause kidney failure or meningitis if not promptly detected and treated.
But the most serious disease carried by the animals is the raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis). The disease is spread by tiny eggs in raccoon feces. The eggs become airborne, which makes the roundworm especially dangerous. For instance, just entering an attic contaminated by raccoon droppings may be enough to inhale the eggs and contract the disease. Once inside the body, the eggs may attack the eyes, the brain or the spinal cord causing blindness, mental slowness or lack of muscle control. In some cases, the roundworm can be fatal.
Since the roundworm eggs can live for years, even in areas only touched by the droppings, you can easily understand why this is a serious problem. Toddlers or children are especially exposed. They could simply touch the droppings in the yard with their hands or toys, and if they put their hands in their mouth, they could contract the disease. Health-related issues need to be taken seriously if you have raccoons around your property.
How To Prevent Raccoon Problems In Your House
It should be clear to you by now that raccoons can cause a variety of problems to your house, some more severe than others. The point is that if raccoons are living in your area, you need to take action to prevent them from damaging your property and posing a danger to your family. Do you remember the question we asked at the beginning? What problems will you allow raccoons to cause in your house? The fact is, your own actions and habits may determine the extent of raccoon problems in your house. If you want to know how to deal successfully with raccoon problems, take few minutes to read our comprehensive guide on how to get raccoons out of your house. Be diligent and raccoons will not become a nightmare in your life.
If you already have a raccoon problem and are finding it difficult to get rid of them, don’t wait too long. Consult a wildlife specialist like Get Raccoons Out and we will be happy to help you limit the damage caused by raccoons and ensure the safety of you and your family.