Raccoons, with their distinctive masked faces and ringed tails, are fascinating creatures that inhabit diverse environments across North America. Known for their intelligence and adaptability, raccoons exhibit a range of behaviors and habits that have both intrigued and sometimes frustrated humans. In this article, we explore the behavior and habits of raccoons, as well as effective prevention strategies to mitigate conflicts with these resourceful mammals.

Behavior and Habits

Nocturnal Activity

Raccoons are primarily nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during the night. This behavior allows them to avoid predators and human activity while foraging for food. Raccoons possess excellent night vision and acute senses, enabling them to navigate their surroundings with ease in low-light conditions.

Omnivorous Diet

Raccoons are opportunistic feeders with an omnivorous diet. They consume a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, insects, small mammals, birds, and even human garbage. Their adaptable diet contributes to their success in urban and suburban environments, where they can readily find food sources.   

Nesting and Denning

Raccoons are proficient climbers and adept at finding shelter in various habitats. They may den in natural structures like hollow trees or burrows, as well as man-made structures such as attics, chimneys, and crawl spaces. Female raccoons, called sows, typically create nesting sites, known as dens, to raise their young, or kits.

Social Behavior

While raccoons are generally solitary animals, they may exhibit social behavior, especially during the mating season and when raising young. Male raccoons, known as boars, may tolerate the presence of females and juveniles in their territories. However, conflicts between raccoons can arise over food or territory.

Prevention Tips

Secure Garbage Bins

One of the primary attractions for raccoons in urban areas is unsecured garbage. To deter raccoons, use tightly sealed garbage bins with locking lids. Additionally, avoid leaving pet food outside overnight, as it can also attract raccoons and other wildlife.

Seal Entry Points

Inspect your home for potential entry points that raccoons could use to access attics, crawl spaces, or chimneys. Seal any openings with sturdy materials like wire mesh or metal flashing to prevent raccoons from gaining entry.

Trim Tree Branches

Raccoons are skilled climbers and may use overhanging tree branches to access roofs and other structures. Trim tree branches near your home to minimize access points for raccoons and other wildlife.

Install Motion-Activated Lights or Alarms

Motion-activated lights or alarms can startle raccoons and discourage them from lingering near your home. Place these devices in areas where raccoons are known to frequent, such as around garbage bins or entry points.

Remove Potential Nesting Sites

Regularly inspect your property for potential nesting sites, such as piles of brush, woodpiles, or overgrown vegetation. Removing these habitats can discourage raccoons from establishing dens on your property.

raccoon in treeUltimately,

Raccoons are intelligent and adaptable creatures with a diverse range of behaviors and habits. While they can be fascinating to observe in their natural habitat, conflicts with raccoons can arise when they encroach upon human dwellings in search of food and shelter. By understanding raccoon behavior and implementing effective prevention measures, homeowners can coexist with these resourceful mammals while minimizing potential conflicts.