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June 6, 2014
The word “raccoon” conjures up images of overturned trashcans and evokes dark thoughts of rabies, and all for good reason – these wild animals pose serious threats to your home and health when they decide to move in. We have plenty of raccoons in our mid-Atlantic location and June is prime time for raccoon problems, so we thought it might be helpful to tackle the furry-faced issue now. Read on to learn more about rabies, raccoon hiding places, and effective ways to keep them out of your home.
Most of us associate rabies with aggressive foaming at the mouth, and in fact, the word rabies comes from the Latin word for rage or fury. But did you know that there are three distinct phases to rabies? Although symptoms vary from victim to victim, the disease typically unfolds in three parts for animals:
The first (“prodromal”) phase occurs when the virus has begun to infiltrate the nervous system, which can result in behavioral changes. Nocturnal animals – like raccoons – might start coming out during the day, and animals that are normally aggressive can become shy.
The second phase of rabies (“furious”) is the one with which we are most familiar, characterized by angry biting, lashing out, and excess saliva. It is during this phase that we humans are most at risk. A rabid raccoon will not hesitate to attack anyone who comes within striking distance.
The third and final phase of rabies (“dumb”) involves paralysis, most often in the lower jaw and extremities. A rabid animal in this third phase avoids water because its facial paralysis causes swallowing difficulties. Death is the unavoidable curtain call for animals once their disease reaches this final phase.
Raccoons mate in the winter months and have their babies (known as “kits”) in late spring or early summer, so June is often when the mothers seek shelter and prepare to give birth. An outdoor birthplace might be a tree hollow, rock crevice, or abandoned burrow. If those birthplace options are unavailable, mama raccoon might seek shelter in your chimney, attic, or other inviting areas of your home. (Trust us, we speak from experience!)
If you have a raccoon problem, it’s important to enlist the help of a professional who knows how to effectively trap and transport the raccoon family far from your home. Raccoons are resourceful and can hide in walls, ceilings, ducts, and crawl spaces – professionals have the equipment and expertise to coax the raccoons out of these awkward spaces without getting injured or damaging your home.
If you have a raccoon visitor in your home, the first thing you need to do is to pinpoint how they got in. Examine your home for possible entrance points and then block them off with wire mesh or sheet metal once the animal is evicted.
There are several humane ways to make your home inhospitable to raccoons. These bandit-eyed creatures dislike loud noises, bright lights, and certain smells such as cider vinegar. If you dispatch all three sensory offenses at once, your raccoon roommates are more likely to move out.
Of course, if you have a raccoon (or a whole family of them) in your home, you will want to get them out right away. Call a professional and let them deal with the problem – you’ll save yourself time, hassle, and even a possible rabies infection!