During the Winter season many animals, such as the raccoon, seek shelter to escape the cold weather. Raccoons are a common sight throughout North America, and can be identified by the black rings around their eyes that make them look like they’re wearing a mask. Being nocturnal, they’re active mainly at night scavenging for food, and will search through just about anything to find it, including trash heaps. Their diet consists mostly of fruit, but they’ve been known to eat meat as well.
Unlike other animals, raccoons do not hibernate during winter. They retreat to the safety of their dens or resting places during extremely cold weather, and will spend most of their time there, emerging only to hunt or scavenge for food. They are able to co-exist with humans, and are not afraid of them, but are usually gentle creatures that won’t attack unless provoked. Complicating this, however, is the fact that they are known rabies carriers, and you should avoid contact with them whenever possible, especially if they show symptoms of the disease.
They make homes out of hollow trees and burrows within the ground, and when those locations are unavailable, they seek shelter within human homes. Often times, our homes are attractive locations to animals because they have all the necessities available: food, water, and warm shelter. In order to keep them out of YOUR home, the first thing you should do is to seal all cracks and gaps around the sides of your home to keep them from taking advantage of the spaces between your walls for shelter. Ensure that any trees growing near your home don’t have branches they could use to gain access to the upper floors of your home, as they are excellent climbers and won’t hesitate to do so if given the opportunity. They also have a tendency to exploit weak spots in your roof, especially if those spots were damaged by rain or other inclement weather.
Next, if you live on a farm or keep any livestock, ensure that all livestock feed and/or pet food is stored in sealed containers, because raccoons can and will eat it. Do the same thing for any garbage cans outside your house; ensure that the lids are tightly sealed and won’t come off if they’re knocked over. Some homeowners also use electric fences to protect their home and gardens, but this method is not seen as humane by some groups, and may or may not be legal depending on where you live.
If raccoons do manage to take up shelter in your home, don’t lock them in. This may only lead to them getting aggressive, and causing property damage or injury, or dying in an offensive manner. If this is the case, you should call a professional for assistance in relocating the creatures to a more suitable location, such as an animal shelter or den.
Horizon Pest Control can help prevent animals from entering your home. We also offer humane animal trapping and exclusion service. To learn more about how we can help, kindly visit Nuisance Animal Control.