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Raccoons are small to medium sized nocturnal mammals common throughout the diverse environments of North America. They are omnivorous and consume almost anything, from plant matter to fish, frogs, mice, nuts, berries, and the convenient trash in your trashcan.

Each year, they have one litter, between three to five kits, around February and March. They are very intelligent animals and extremely crafty when it comes to figuring out how to get at a food source, such as your garbage, or an attractive den, such as your attic or basement.

Since your home and garden may look like an easy source of food and shelter to a raccoon, it’s important you take proactive measures to prevent raccoons from deciding to take up residence. 

  • Keep up with home repairs and fix holes or damage in a building as soon as they become apparent. 
  • Secure your trash bins.
  • Bring in food nightly that you may have placed outside for outdoor animals, and overturn any water sources, refill them in the morning.
  • Trim back branches from your home to prevent access to a roof.

In order to encourage an animal to leave your home:

  • Place a bright light and play loud music in or as close to the den as possible. This will disturb the raccoons and encourage them to leave the vicinity to seek a quieter, darker area. 
  • You may also tie a rag into a knot and soak it in ammonia or use Critter Ridder, and put it nearby where they are nesting. Raccoons have noses that are very sensitive to strong smells and the smell of ammonia and Critter Ridder can irritate them. 
  • Turn off any lights or sounds you may be using periodically in order to allow the resident raccoon to feel safe enough to leave the area.

Just as with any animal that has taken up residence in a human home, it is imperative you ensure all animals have left the disturbed area before their entrance is sealed permanently. If you seal an animal in, especially if the evicted raccoons have left behind a nest of kits, they will most likely starve to death inside your home. Listen closely for whining noises or squealing coming from the point of entry to determine if kits are present. If there are babies, but they are not leaving the home with the parent raccoons, please tolerate the raccoon family for a few weeks until all animals are able to exit the home.

Raccoons are potential rabies carriers. If you notice a raccoon acting strangly, walking around outside for prolonged periods during daylight hours, or especially if a pet or human has been in contact with or been bitten by a raccoon, please contact Animal Care & Control - 202-723-5730. 

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