Raccoons are nocturnal creatures that can be found living throughout most of the United States, but are most commonly found in regions that are wooded and close to water. In Missouri, raccoons are found throughout most of the state, but are more common in the prairies and less so in the Ozarks.
Raccoons are best known for their distinctive markings: a black “mask” of fur covering their eyes, black and gray ringed tail, and thick fur that is salt and pepper in color covering their body. They are about the size of a medium house cat; adults grow to 2-3 feet in length. They have a stocky body and weigh between 10 and 30 pounds. The raccoon’s tail is about half the size of their head and body, and they have long slender feet. The bottoms of their feet are bare, and they have “finger-like” toes. The raccoon’s hind legs are longer than their front legs, giving them a hunched appearance as they walk.
Raccoons are generally solitary creatures coming together only to mate. The females will then raise the young alone without the help of the males. Most breeding occurs in February and most litters are born in April and May, although it is not unheard of to see litters being born throughout the summer as well. The gestation period is about 63 days; the female usually gives birth to 3-5 “kits” per litter. The young will wean at about 2-4 weeks of age, but usually will remain with their mother until the following spring. Each female will only raise 1 litter per year.
In the outdoors, raccoons are typically found living in the cavities of trees, in the crevices of rocks, and in the abandoned burrows of other animals. Raccoons are omnivores and feed on a wide variety of items including: fruits, berries, corn, pet food, insects, crayfish, eggs, and small animals (rodents, lizards, etc.). They are generally found in wooded areas along riverbanks. However, as people have expanded their territories, the raccoon’s territory has become smaller, and they are now commonly found living in both suburban and rural areas. Raccoons can become quite problematic for property owners; they dig through trash and enter homes, garages, sheds, and other buildings to live and nest. They will feed from and damage garden and compost areas. Raccoons are considered to be a dangerous pest because they can introduce dangerous diseases including rabies to you, your pets, and your family.
Preventing raccoons from coming onto your property and into your home can be a tricky task, but there are some things you can do to help deter them. Make sure that any trash you are storing outside until trash pick-up day is in trash cans that have tight fitting, or better yet, locking lids. Keep compost piles and garden areas a distance away from the exterior of your home and make sure to place a lid on compost bins and a fence around garden areas. If pets are fed outside pick up any uneaten pet food. It is also a good idea to keep a tight-fitting chimney cap on all chimneys. Also, make sure that vent covers are secure and that any holes or gaps found along the roofline are repaired. Any loose or missing roof tiles should also be repaired or replaced.
The best way to prevent and control current problems with raccoons is to partner with a professional pest control company who has the experience and equipment necessary to trap and humanely remove wildlife from your property. At Rottler, we can eliminate raccoons from your property through our wildlife control program. Our professionals will inspect your home and property and provide you with the best services available to remove pest raccoons from it and repair any damages and clean up any messes that are left behind.