(Procyon lotor)

Size: 12–36 pounds; Body is 26–38″ long including 10″ tail

Signs of their presence:
Visual sightings of the animal.

Sounds: Cries include a whistle-like tremolo, hisses, soft grunts, barks, growls, and a churr-churr noise while feeding. Cry when attacked is a piercing cascade of snarling screams. The young are quite noisy, their chitters are easily heard in the house, and often mistaken for birds. Raccoons can make a lot of noise when they lumber around in your attic.

Tracks: Flatfooted, like people, so track is big for the animal’s size. The length and width of the front paw is about equal, about 2″ long. The hind paw is much longer than it is wide, about 3 1/4–4 1/4″ long; described as “a miniature human footprint with abnormally long toes.”

Scat: likely found at the base of trees, on logs, big rocks, woodpiles, or other prominences (such as roofs). The scat often shows what they’ve been eating and can give clues about what is attracting the raccoons to the site.

Building damage: black smudges on walls or downspouts; bent gutters; holes in the siding or boards torn off; damaged soffits or louvers; damaged insulation; odors.

Crop damage: partially eaten corn ears with the husks pulled back, or broken stalks; hole in the rind of watermelons, through which the contents have been pulled out.

Common nuisance situations:

Time of year: Any time of year. Peak from mid-March through mid-May, when the females are looking for den sites in which to raise their young. From mid-May through July, “sick” or “rabid” raccoons are active during the day. From the late summer through the fall, raccoons may dig through lawns and turf in search of grubs.
They den in attics, chimneys, sheds, and barns, annoying people with their noise and odors.

Their nest materials might block a vent, causing a fire hazard. They also chew on wires.

Raccoons can damage buildings, either purposefully, to gain entry or create a nesting area, or accidentally, because they’re heavy enough to bend gutters as they move through them. Raccoons enter buildings through the roof (using rain gutters, brick chimneys, and overhanging branches to reach the roof); push their way through louvers or soffits; or climb directly up the siding. They may tear shingles, vents, or roofing material to gain entry.

Raccoons also cause damage as they feed, pillaging gardens and agricultural crops, knocking over and chewing through garbage cans, getting stuck in dumpsters, pulling down and chewing holes in bird feeders, and pulling up turf and lawns for worms and grubs.

Their scat fouls yards and children’s play areas and may present a health hazard (parasites found in scat).

Disease risks: rabies (they are a rabies vector species in New York), raccoon roundworm. Raccoons are currently the main carrier of rabies in New York.

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