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Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion

Raccoon evidence of intrusion should be easy for homeowners to determine. There are many different ways to know if raccoons have taken up residence on your property or are feasting on your harvest. Read through the following techniques to help you recognize some prevalent types of evidence of intrusion.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion- Tracks

Raccoons, as a medium sized mammal, can leave very well defined tracks. The rear paw print looks much like a small human foot print and will measure about three (3) to four (4) inches long with five visible toes. The front prints will be smaller measuring only two (2) to three (3) inches long and have five visible toe prints, too.

The best places to look for raccoon evidence of intrusion are in soft or wet soils along culverts, fence lines and the trails of other animals. Don’t forget to look along the sides of buildings where they may be climbing up to gain entrance such as fire escapes and downspouts.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Scratch Marks on Trees

The raccoon is an excellent climber and has the sharp non-retractable claws and long toes to help. If you have raccoons in your yard evidence of their presence may be as simple as inspecting the trunks of trees for claw marks.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Noises on Roof

Are you hearing shuffling sounds in your walls or noises on the roof? This could be a sign that raccoons have found a way to get into your home.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Scat

The most obvious evidence of raccoons may well be their scat, or droppings. Droppings are usually three (3) to five (5) segmented inches (crumbly). They have flat ends and will have pieces of their dinner contained within. Look for raccoon scat near the base of trees, on logs or, worst case, in your house. WARNING: Raccoon scat can contain eggs of the roundworm which, when inhaled by humans, can cause serious illness.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Wear Marks and Hair on Rough Edges

Knowing where to look for evidence of intrusion can be just as important as knowing what to look for. Knowing that the raccoon has a lot of fur leads one to the inevitable conclusion that if he travels through areas often enough dirt and oil from their fur will begin to rub off and leave marks. Look for fur and dirt marks along wood and rough surfaces.

Look for wear marks, body oil, and hairs on wood and other rough surfaces, particularly around the edges of den entrances. The den’s entrance hole is usually at least 4 inches high and 6 inches wide.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Sounds

Raccoons make over 51 different sounds. The most common, and the ones to listen for, are low growls and snarls they’ll make when fighting over the bounty they’ve found in your garbage cans.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Fruits and Vegetables Gone
If you have corn stalks that are broken with ears that are partially eaten this is a sure sign that raccoons have been in your garden for dinner. Other evidence of intrusion includes watermelons that have been hollowed out by the little bandit digging a small hole and stealing the insides with their hands, or tomatoes gone missing.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Chicken Coup Invasion

If raccoons have been into your chicken coup there will be several signs of intrusion. Much to the chagrin of owners, the chickens are often killed by raccoons by being beheaded. Heads will be found far from the partially eaten bodies. Smaller chickens may be killed by raccoons reaching through the wire and trying to pull them back through. Look for missing legs and feet. Missing eggs or egg shells on the ground may be found as well.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Chicken Coup Invasion

When raccoons decide to eat with the birds, your birdfeeder may not be able to stand the weight of the raccoon, or worse, this agile creature may just remove the feed from the stand and destroy it on the ground.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Garbage Can Overturned

Raccoons are very fond of the occasional left over and normally make no secret of it. Overturned garbage cans, torn garbage bags and inedible trash strewn across your yard are sure signs that raccoons have come for dinner while you were sleeping.

Raccoon Evidence of Intrusion-Pet Food Missing

Pets seem a little hungrier than usual? Maybe they are sharing their food with raccoons. The little bandits will not hesitate to steal a good meal from your pet’s dish left out of doors over night.

Raccoon populations tend to be higher closer to human populations. They like to share in our homes, gardens, poultry and even our trash. This allows for a numerous ways to find raccoon evidence of intrusion.

Raccoon Interesting Facts

Raccoon interesting facts continue to grow as does the population of the little bandits. Read through the listing below to learn more about the Procyon lotor.

  • Raccoons do not assert their own independence until they reach one (1) year-old.
  • Raccoon coats may not be the symbol of high fashion in the 21st Century, but back in the 1920’s raccoon pelts were very popular and sold for about $14.
  • Raccoon fur is still sold today as imitations for mink and seal fur.
  • While raccoons are doing quite well population wise in the Americas, there are some small populations of the Procyon lotor family that are threatened:
    • Procyon insularis found in the Marias Islands, Mexico.
    • Procyon gloveralleni found in the islands of Barbados.
    • Procyon maynardi found in the Bahama Islands.
    • Procyon minor of Guadeloupe Island, of the French Antilles.
    • Procyon pygameus found on Cozumel Island, Mexico.
  • Many people have witnessed raccoons washing their food. By no coincidence the species name “lotor” literally means “the washer”.
  • The weight of the raccoons in North America can vary greatly from as little as six (6) pounds in Florida to near 60 pounds in Canada! This is due to their ability to have body mass that is 50% fat. This is important during the long, cold winters when they may choose to sleep for a few weeks and use this fat to live on.
  • Raccoons are noisy but never boring. Scientists have determined that they can make over 51 different sounds!
    Raccoons are most active at night between sunset and sunrise.
    On the mammal IQ scale raccoons rank higher than cats and just below monkeys.
  • The raccoon has the ability to rotate their hind feet a full 180 degrees to allow for their ability to climb down from trees head first.
  • The word raccoon, derived from the Algonquin Indian word “arakun” means “he scratches with hands”.
  • Raccoons have been introduced to parts of Europe and Asia as well. They are doing quite well in these new homes.
  • Babies are born blind and weigh less than two ounces.
    Raccoons normally live to five (5) years in the wild.
  • As nature’s little bandit increases their presence in the world we are beginning to note more and more of the raccoon interesting facts.

Raccoon Diet

Raccoon diet is truly omnivorous eating both plants and animals. They will eat most anything ranging from nuts and fruits, to bugs and beetles, to frogs and crayfish, to bird eggs and carrion (road kill). They have no qualms about getting into a garbage can for last night’s (or week’s) leftover macaroni and cheese!

Raccoon Diet-Food

With such a varied diet the list of foods nature’s little bandit will partake is quite long. Starting first with plant foods the raccoon diet will lead them to consume fruits including grapes, cherries, peaches, plums, apples, melons, persimmons and all varieties of berries: raspberries, blackberries, etc. Vegetables are well regarded, in particular sweet corn and tomatoes. Other plants eaten are nuts such as acorns and walnuts, grains and seeds.

When the animal decides to engage their meat eating side their absolute favorites are fish. They also enjoy other water dwellers including clams, crayfish and snails. Wild land mammals eaten by raccoons include squirrels, mice, rats and even gophers. Not the most astute hunters, raccoons more often than not will go after chickens in coops and eat road kill. Small birds and bird eggs, insects and slugs round out the meat portion of the raccoon diet.

One cannot talk about raccoon food without recognizing two (2) very important staples of the raccoon diet: food scraps from garbage cans and pet food left outside.

 

Raccoon Diet-Physical Attributes

The single most important physical attribute of the raccoon diet has to be those wonderful five (5) fingered paws. The grasping ability of these animals is amazing as many have witnessed, but is not the only capability that makes the paws so incredibly important to their diet. Because they are essentially hairless these little beauties act as sensors, extremely sensitive to touch, which allows them to feel the foods they are holding. This helps them determine if the object is edible and allows for better identification.

Raccoon Diet-Benefits and Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem

The varied diet of the raccoon inevitably leads to quite a lot of headaches for farmers and home gardeners alike. In particular the animal’s affinity for fruits and vegetables can become a big problem not to mention their preference for chickens. Both of which can cause substantial economic and emotional losses for the large and small owners alike.

Closer to home the raccoon diet may pose even further frustration for homeowners. No one enjoys cleaning up the yard after a night of feasting by resident raccoons that have picked through the garbage can during the night. Dogs and cats may not awaken too happy either once they find their food bowl has been cleaned out overnight.

With so many food choices it is no surprise the there are many detriments to the raccoon diet.

Raccoon Habitat

Raccoon habitat is as varied as the continents they are found. Raccoons are very adaptable but require a few essentials. Access to water is, of course, most important and also a close proximity to humans.

The habitats that raccoons live include wooded areas and prairies; coastal and inland areas; tropical climates and northern climates of Canada. Raccoons are not found in desert areas of the United States southwest.

Raccoon Habitat-Range

The range of the raccoon consists naturally in the Americas. More specifically, they are found from the middle and lower portions of Canada south through the majority of the United States, exclusive of parts of Nevada, Idaho and New Mexico and continuing south through Mexico and Central America into the tip of South America.

Raccoons have been introduced to parts of Europe and Asia as well. They are doing quite well in these new homes.

The map below illustrates the overall range of the raccoon.

Raccoon Habitat-Dens

No matter what habitat nature’s little bandit resides in they must have a place to call home, or den. They normally have a different daytime and nighttime spot. During the day they are most often found resting in trees. They don’t seem to feel safe in one (1) spot, consequently, they do not stay in one den for very long. Raccoons move from one (1) den site or resting location to another every few days save for the female with young who will remain in the same nest site for many weeks while raising her young. With that many den location changes there are many different types of sites chosen by the animal.

In wooded areas raccoons will often choose hollowed out trees, rotting logs and rock piles. They may take over the homes of other animals including muskrats. Wet areas that have a healthy cattail population are chosen, too, and only sometimes are raccoons known to reside in an underground burrow of other animals including woodchucks and gophers.

Unfortunately, wooded areas are not always a requirement for home sites. Raccoons will, as many can attest, hang their hat under decks and crawl spaces of homes; they will nest in barns and haystacks; attics, nest boxes, duck boxes, and chimneys.

As one of the few mammals whose success has increased with human populations the climates and ground covers they can live in are closely in line with the continents in which they are native. The crisp winters of the northern United States and the tropical heat of Central America make for suitable raccoon habitat.

Raccoon Behavior

Raccoons may be one of the most inquisitive of all mammal species. From rummaging through your garbage cans for food to finding their way into the interior of your home, Nature’s little bandit will not be distracted from finding out where you are hiding the best goodies and warmest shelter. They spend most of their time in the shadows, coming out normally only at night, but is not totally uncommon to see them during the day.

They are awake throughout the year although when it gets cold enough they might take a mini winters nap and sleep for a few weeks straight. It is during these times that the raccoon lives off that 50% body fat!

Families are very important to the raccoon and unlike many wild animals the family group will remain together as a unit for the first year of the newborn’s life; although dad may venture off when the kids reach the three (3) month mark. Females will gestate for about 64 days before giving birth, in general, to four (4) babies, but that number can range from three (3) to seven (7) young at once. The babies make their way into the world during the months of April or May of each year for the most part, but litters arriving before or after this time period occur often; especially for the southern ranges where breeding occurs later in the season. A female raccoon is able to reproduce before her first birthday! Needless to say, populations of raccoon can be quite high.

Born blind and weighing less than two (2) ounces the babies need mom and dad around as long as they can. The newborn’s eyes will open after about three (3) weeks of age and they will begin to eat food at just over two (2) months. Raccoons normally live to five (5) years in the wild.

Don’t let that shuffling, wobbly walk fool you, raccoons are great all around athletes. The shuffle may look cumbersome, but they can run that fluffy body at a speed of up to fifteen (15) miles per hour. They are great climbers and can fall 35 feet without being harmed. When it comes to swimming they may not be the first to jump in, (their fur is not waterproof and absorbs the water adding a lot of weight to move through the water) but if they do get into the water they are considered strong swimmers.

Raccoons have excellent hearing and night vision but do occasionally fall prey to the predators including bobcats, coyotes, wolves, hawks and owls. Make no mistake, raccoons aren’t pushovers and do attack if cornered. Be especially weary of a mother with babies.

Raccoon Benefits & Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem
As can be expected with any animal that lives in close association with humans raccoons have some activities that are less desirable to us than themselves. Their choice of residence is often one of them. Anyone who has found that a raccoon, or worse, a family of raccoons have moved in can tell you of the damage that they can cause on entry and the feces they will leave in an attic or crawlspace!

Raccoons are one of the four (4) wild animals in the United States described as a primary carrier of the rabies virus. Another disease spread by raccoons includes roundworm, which is spread by the inhalation of roundworm eggs from raccoon feces. Leptospirosis is yet another disease spread to humans by raccoons but normally only affects people working closely with the animals such as animal control persons.

In the wild they can spread Aleutians disease to other animals including the minks which poses a particular problem for mink farmers.

Raccoons are still hunted for their fur as some furriers make imitation mink and otter clothes out of the fur of the raccoon.

Raccoon Physical Appearance

They don’t call them the little bandit for nothing. The raccoon has the unmistakable black mask across their eyes. Lest we forget about their ringed tail which suspiciously resembles the stripes on a prisoner’s uniform. The rings themselves range in number from four (4) to ten (10). The color of the fur of the raccoon can vary based on habitat. In the northern regions raccoons are customarily gray, whereas in the southern most parts of their range they take on a reddish hue. Let’s not forget that cute black nose and thick fur and their characteristic hunch back.

While the raccoon has some the fullest fur in the mammal world, their front paws are mysteriously absent of fur. With a look unmistakably human, raccoon hands are unusually dexterous allowing for the little bandit to grasp most like people. Both the front and rear paws have five (5) toes, but the front paws are used more often to feel and grasp. In fact, the word raccoon, derived from the Algonquin Indian word “arakun” means “he scratches with hands”.

Pointed ears and a pointed snout round out the prominent physical features of nature’s little bandit, the raccoon.

Overall, the raccoon weighs in anywhere between ten (10) to thirty (30) pounds and range in length, excluding the tail, from two (2) to three (3) feet. The tail of the raccoon can make up as much as 52% of their overall length. As with most animals the male is normally much larger weighing up to 30% more than females and both the male and female can actually have fat making up 50% of their body weight. This is more common in northern climates where this often coupled with tenderhearted humans that feed the animals. This has lead to some animals weighing close to 60 pounds.

Raccoon Natural History

There are actually 18 species of raccoons in the world. While there are some small populations of species found only on islands the most prevalent species, Procyon lotor is found throughout North America and introduced into areas of Europe and Asia where it is doing quite well. The raccoon is one (1) of the few mammals in North America that have become more successful as human populations increase.

Raccoon

Scientific Name: Procyon lotor
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Procyonidae
Genus: Procyon
Species:lotor

Raccoons, donning that characteristic fur pattern around their eyes, are some of the most recognizable critters on the planet. This medium sized mammal is very familiar with humans. Alas, as they say, familiarity breeds contempt and in the case of the raccoon their familiarity with your yard, gardens and landscaping may lead to some unhappy feelings towards nature’s little bandit, as they are sometimes referred to.

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