How Raccoons Get In Your Attic
5 Signs You Have a Raccoon in the Attic
Whether you think they’re cute or creepy, raccoons don’t belong inside your home. Yet, like other wild animals, raccoons can end up in the nooks and crannies of a house, and they can cause problems beyond damaging property.
Raccoons are considered a primary carrier of Rabies in the United States, for instance. If you want your house to be free of outdoor critters, pay attention to these signs that might mean you have a raccoon in the attic.
Sounds Like a Raccoon in the Attic
Do you ever wake up in the morning wishing the upstairs neighbors would be a little quieter—only to remember that no one lives above you? No, there likely aren’t any ghosts in your attic. However, a raccoon might be making its nest in your home in preparation for her babies. Raccoons are large animals that move very quickly. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the noise they make is very noticeable.
If a raccoon is making herself at home in your house, it might sound like a toddler running around above you. No other wild animal native to North America is capable of making a similar stomping noise. If you’re still not convinced that your phantom attic noises are that of a raccoon, listen for vocal sounds. A mama raccoon is very vocal during and after her gestation period, and her babies make noise too.
With Spring Come Raccoons
Springtime isn’t only the season of blooming flowers and warmer weather. It’s also raccoon mating season. Raccoons aren’t as likely to invade your home when they’re not busy making a family. However, come springtime, female raccoons seek out warm and dry spaces where they can safely nest. A home’s attic is a perfect nesting space. It’s worth noting that when raccoons get comfortable where they set up home, they’re not willing to leave for months. A female raccoon’s gestation period lasts about 65 days. Typically, she stays nesting with her babies for about three months after their birth, until they are no longer frail and helpless. In total, the nesting process takes about five months. That’s why you should seek out a raccoon removal Baltimore service as soon as you confirm that these creatures did indeed invade your home.
Though they are a nuisance and a safety hazard to people, raccoons are smart. They are resourceful animals who make nests out of whatever materials they find.
If you have a house guest in the form of a raccoon, you’ll eventually notice evidence of a nest. Here are some materials to look out for:
- Leaves and twigs
- Ripped insulation
- Chipped wood
- Torn fabric
Raccoons like to get comfy. Not only do they bring some nesting materials with them, but they can literally gut an area of your home in order to get the materials they need. They can easily rip up your attic’s insulation and get into any clothing or storage bins you may have there.
It doesn’t take long for a raccoon to wreak havoc on your home. In fact, if it is scared and determined, a raccoon can cause structural damage to your attic in a matter of hours. Even if the animal feels safe in its nest, it will do damage to your home. For instance, it might tear up your walls and even rip out your roof shingles. It’s not uncommon for raccoons to rip apart your home’s structural beams.
Finally, what is a sure sign of wildlife in a home? Animal droppings. If you suspect a raccoon is sharing your home, look around for raccoon scat in and around your home. A raccoon’s version of civilization is setting up latrines where they live. That’s right—these animals don’t just poo in random places. They designate a space for a scat pile which is usually in the corner of a structure.
Did Your House Guest Leave?
Once you’re able to successfully kick out your raccoon in the attic, the tough work begins. For tips on renovating your attic and general home improvement, come back frequently to our blog. We promise to make your handyman work less of a headache.
Raccoons in the Attic — How to Get Rid of Them
Read the below tutorial with step-by-step photograph instructions for information about raccoons and how to get them out of an attic. It’s not always a simple task — it usually requires these 4 steps to get raccoons out of an attic:
- 1) Physical removal of the nest of baby raccoons
- 2) (Humane) trapping or exclusion of adult raccoons
- 3) Repairs to the entry points
- 4) Cleanup of raccoon feces and waste.
The following information, instructions, and tips should help you in the raccoon removal process. It is not easy, and I do not consider this a do-it-yourself task for amateurs. If you need raccoons removed from your attic in your hometown, we service over 500 USA locations! Click here to hire us in your town and check prices — updated for year 2020.
Raccoons often choose to make their home inside of people’s attics. An attic provides a safe shelter for a raccoon, and usually meets all of their living requirements: shelter from the elements, safety from predators, and oftentimes close proximity to food — such as garbage cans or pet food.
If you have a raccoon in the attic, take note of the time of year. If it is springtime, say Feb — June, then there’s a very good chance that the raccoon is actually a mother with a litter of young pups up in the attic. Female raccoons love to raise their young in a warm, safe attic. You CANNOT just trap the female outside if you don’t get the pups. They will suffer and starve to death, and then they will decay and create a large odor. And the desperate female, once relocated, will do anything to get back to the young, and possibly die in the process.
Most people first call me when they hear the noise the animals create. A large animal like a raccoon can cause quite a bit of racket climbing around and digging in the attic. A litter of young will also often squeal for their mom, making a loud noise. Some homes are less prone to sound, and the occupants learn about their raccoon problem when they physically spot the animal, a frequent occurrence with a busy mother raccoon.
Here we see the culprit — a female raccoon, on the roof near the hole in the soffit that it tore open. Raccoons have no problems climbing on to a roof, and once there, they can easily tear a hole open to gain access.
Sure enough, it crawls right inside.
Once inside the attic, I search for the adult. She usually hides down in the eaves, and I can’t catch her. Sometimes I’m able to use a snare pole and grab her and remove her, and sometimes I’m able to scare her out of the attic and into a waiting trap mounted at the hole, but sometimes she gets away and I have to use other methods.
I search until I find the litter of pups. In this case, down a column at the edge of the attic. Finding the young can often be very difficult, and it takes a lot of patience and hard work up in a hot attic. If they make noise, it’s easy. If mama racoon has stashed the baby raccoons down a wall and told them to be quiet, it can be very hard to find them, but it must be done.
I remove the young from the attic. It’s very hot in Florida attics! I carry them as their mom would, by the scruff of the neck. This keeps them quiet. Some baby raccoons can be very agressive, and will lunge and bite. Others are docile and easy. In the event that you wish to hire us, you may want to see how much does raccoon removal cost?
I set the juveniles in the back of traps, to try to catch the mom. This is the absolute best «bait» to use to trap a female raccoon. She will do anything to get to her babies, so even if she’s shy of a trap, she’ll still go in. It’s important to set this correctly. If the trap goes off, from the mother working the outside, or the baby setting it off, then the female will go crazy trying to get in, and will likely cause some damage, maybe to herself. This type of set takes a lot of experience. For more information read my raccoon trapping guide.
Sure enough, the mom raccoon enters the trap, lured in by its own baby. Even when faced with a larger animal like a human, the mother raccoon is always protective of its young first.
After I have the mom and all the babies out of the attic, I seal the entry points. This is a vital step in the process. If you leave the holes open, new wildlife will surely enter. No job is complete until all the holes are sealed shut.
I make sure to keep mom and all the young together. I then relocate them together to a nature preserve far outside the city. It may be hard for them to survive once evicted from their home, but mother raccoons are very resourcful. If the mother and babies cannot be kept together, I bring the young to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist.
Raccoons can cause quite a bit of damage when they live in an attic. Please see my raccoon attic damage page for more photos of raccoon damage. Not only do they urinate and defecate in the attic, but they can bring in a host of parasites (fleas, ticks, mites, and lice) and diseases (raccoon roundworm, leptospirosis, etc). They often tear apart ductwork, rip insulation off of pipes, gnaw on wires, and trample down the insulation, lowering its R-value effectiveness. They also tear open holes to gain access to the attic in the first place. I highly recommend attic cleanup and decontamination services if you’ve had a raccoon living in your attic.
Summary of the 7 steps to get rid of raccoons in the attic:
- Before you start, be aware that when raccoons live in your attic, it is almost always a female raccoon with a litter of babies. Be sure to remove the babies as well as the adult.
- NEVER EVER simply set a trap outside. If you catch the mother raccoon and take her away, this will leave her babies up in the attic to starve to death, and cause an odor problem for you. This is very cruel.
- If you, or a trapping company, catches the mother outside, you MUST go in the attic to get her young. If your trapper is lazy and claims there are no young, that guy is a heartless asshole.
If you have raccoons in your attic, you really should hire a professional wildlife trapper to take care of the problem. It’s not easy to get rid of raccoons in the attic. There’s no magic spray or ultrasonic sound device or any gimmick that will make them leave. They need to be trapped and removed. It’s not work for amateurs or do-it-yourselfers. Many people will just buy a trap and set it on the ground and never catch anything, or catch stray cats, opossums, and other non-target animals. Or worse, some crummy companies or so-called handy homeowners will set a trap or two on the ground, and actually catch the mom raccoon, and get rid of her — only to leave the babies up in the attic to squeal and suffer and die and then decompose and stink. Please don’t try to do this yourself or hire a cut-rate lazy trapper who won’t go into the attic and get the young. The job has to be done right! Also, keep in mind that they sometimes live in the chimney as well. Read How to Remove a Wild Animal in the Chimney. I also have a story of a particular raccoon trapping job on my raccoon in house page.
Click for my raccoon removal photo gallery.
Over 60 photographs of actual raccoon trapping and removal jobs I’ve done.
Visit my awesome opossum trapping blog!
Over 25 examples of specific raccoon control jobs I’ve done. Get ideas!
Again, the removal of raccoons in the attic is complex, because of the presence of the baby raccoons. Please treat the raccoons with kindness and respect. If you wish for us to solve your problem for you, we are professionals with a great deal of experience, who can safely, humanely, and legally remove the raccoons in your attic for you.