"Raccoon in Attic." This is the term we use to describe the condition of a raccoon
choosing your safe, warm, dry attic over the more dangerous, temperature variable,
damp, great outdoors for a space in which to live. The choice is easy for the animal.
For the humans involved it always creates a problem with many facets.
Copyright Wildlife Ranger 2013
The Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a species we
encounter quite often in the urban sprawl of the
Orlando area, both in the heavily wooded areas and in
the most urban of settings. Raccoons have adapted
completely to living in our towns and cities by sharing
our food (gardens, pet food, discarded food items,
garbage, etc.) as well as moving into our living
structures. They are completely opportunistic (and
equal-opportunistic) and can be found in all settings
from grabbing a tasty meal downtown in a dumpster
after dark to wandering the streets and backyards of
the finest gated community. Raccoons are well known
for their habit of dunking their food in water prior to
consumption and usually leave a "thank-you" note by
pooping on the top step of the pool before moving on
to the next house. We are called upon to remove
raccoons from yards, porches, sheds, trash cans,
dumpsters and almost any other spot you can thing
of. By far, the most damaging nuisance concern
involving raccoons is when they make the easy
decision to move into the attic of your home.
• Raccoons are considered carnivores but are better described as omnivorous.
• Life span in the wild is approximately 2-3 years (captive raccoons have been
know to live beyond 20 years.)
• Home range is typically up to 1 mile in diameter.
• Adult raccoons can vary in weight from 15 pounds all the way up to 40 pounds.
• Baby raccoons, kits, are ready to venture out with their momma by 8 to 10 weeks
of age. They will travel on their own by about week 12, returning home to mom
often for security.
Noise: This is usually the first sign that indicates to the homeowner that something
may not be quite right in the attic. Once it is confirmed that those strange noises are
indeed not being imagined but are actually being caused by a twenty to thirty pound
animal happily rummaging through the insulation--most folks will choose this time
to pick up the phone and call for some help. The noises are generally associated
with the activities of mating, delivering offspring, nursing young, play, and defending
the den from competition. We see a definite increase in attic invasions during the
times that are identified as mating and maternity seasons, but a raccoon in the attic
can be found year-round. The noise will continue for a period of months after the
Structural Damage: In order to enter the attic space, raccoons will typically
exploit a weak point in the construction of your home. Soffits, eave gaps, uncapped
chimneys are all common examples of entry points. In almost every case, the
raccoons will enlarge an opening by tearing the surrounding material out of their
way. They will continue to make improvements to the den site in the attic space by
removing insulation, pulling down tar paper, and further expanding their living
space breaking through drywall and plywood.
Droppings: As if all this isn't enough...raccoons are perfectly content to utilize your
attic space as their own private and personal latrine. We have come across some
animals that will use a single spot for a toilet, but the vast majority will spread their
droppings and urine across the entire attic space. These droppings can be harmful
to humans and carry parasites and are the most important health concern in the
removal process. It is highly recommended that an attic decontamination be
performed to render the space safe and to cut down on the likelihood of
Dispersed raccoon droppings.
Same attic after clean-up.
Recurrence: The pheromones left behind by the raccoons will invite others to
attempt to gain entry to the space. Once you have had raccoons in your attic you
are more likely to have others attempt to reach the same spot.
Exlusion: Repairing the entry point and ensuring that the home is properly
excluded is the key to solving the issue permanently. Raccoon repairs should be
made using only industry accepted materials and procedures as the strength and
intelligence of the animal will ultimately undo any effort that is not completed 100%
Raccoon entry point at soffit corner.
Completed entry point repair.