ABC Blog

Do Raccoons Hibernate? What You Need to Know

a raccoon climbing down a tree

Raccoons are highly intelligent and curious creatures that can live anywhere from your local neighborhood to a farm out in the countryside. They’re highly adaptable, which means they can survive on all types of food, including fruit, small animals, pet food and even random waste they find in your trash can.

Raccoons use their hand-like paws to get into all sorts of places that most animals aren’t able to access. These animals also use their five-fingered paws to examine and tear apart any food they find. During the fall, raccoons begin to eat as much as possible, which helps them build up an extra layer of body fat and a thicker coat of fur, so they can get through the winter.

While raccoons don’t technically hibernate, they can sleep for long periods of time, and they often hide in their dens when it’s extremely cold outside. Raccoons are also opportunistic, and they use many different types of hollow spaces as dens—from tree cavities to other animals’ underground burrows to human structures like attics, crawl spaces and unused chimneys.

While they can occasionally be solitary creatures, raccoons often spend the coldest winters in groups. These behaviors can cause huge headaches for homeowners who have a raccoon or a group of raccoons living in their yard. Raccoons’ breeding season starts in late winter, which means a couple of raccoons around the house in cold months can quickly multiply into larger groups of raccoons come spring.

That’s why if you suspect or know that raccoons are hanging around on your property, you should take steps to remove these creatures sooner rather than later. Once raccoons get used to being around people, they can become extremely bold. Mother raccoons can also be very aggressive towards humans and pets, and these raccoons might attack any person or pet they see as a threat to their babies.

Additionally, some raccoons carry dangerous and life-threatening diseases, such as rabies, leptospirosis and roundworm, which they can transmit to humans. Raccoons often use woodpiles and areas near dens as latrines, and pets and children can get seriously ill if they come into contact with raccoon feces or urine. These animals might also harbor other pests, including ticks, fleas and lice.

Raccoons can also cause serious damage to your property. For example, they sometimes claw through shingles and siding to make their dens inside of buildings, and they often destroy recently-sodded lawns by digging for grubs and earthworms.

Homeowners can discourage raccoons from making themselves at home on their property by following a few preventative measures:

  • cap your chimney openings;
  • regularly inspect your attic, roof, crawl space and under your porch, and seal off any large holes, broken vents or loose boards;
  • repair loose or damaged shingles and siding;
  • lock pet doors at night, and never put food by these openings;
  • trim any tree branches that are close to your home to prevent raccoons from climbing on to your roof;
  • clear debris like leaves and brush that raccoons could use as a den;
  • keep firewood piles at least 20 feet away from your house and
  • set up electric fencing around your garden or around ornamental ponds with fish.

If you spot damage to your home’s exterior walls, shingles, insulation or electrical wiring, this might be a sign that a raccoon is living on your property. Other visible indications of raccoon activity include pawprints, a build-up of nesting materials, trash scattered about the property, a destroyed garden, dead birds or other small animals, droppings and urine stains. Homeowners might also hear noises if raccoons are digging through their trash or moving around their house.

If you already have raccoons living in your home or yard, the best way to prevent them from causing havoc on our property is to reach out to a wildlife control specialist. Raccoons are intelligent animals, which means evicting them is often a time-consuming and frustrating ordeal for homeowners who try to deal with them on their own. In addition, what some homeowners assume is raccoon activity may actually be opossums. So, having an expert who can confirm which nuisance animal you are dealing with can give you the best chances of a successful long-term plan of action.

In addition, pest control professionals can save you time and stress by controlling these pests for you, as they have the skills to effectively trap and remove raccoons or any other nuisance creatures. Rodent and wildlife control pros also have the training and experience to deal with possibly aggressive and disease-ridden raccoons, so you don’t have to worry about any of the potential negative consequences.

If you would like to try to get rid of your raccoon invaders on your own, you might be able to drive them away using bright flashing lights, a loud radio and sprinklers. Just be sure not to anger your human neighbors in the process. It may also help to hang something with an off-putting odor to deter the animals, such as mesh bags soaked in ammonia or bags of mothballs. If you have new sod and raccoons are digging up your lawn at night, you might be able to repel them from the area by using hot sauce. However, there is little scientific evidence that these techniques work and some of these steps may affect the health of your lawn, so your mileage may vary.

One of the best ways to deter raccoons and to keep other raccoons from setting up shop on your property is to limit the amount of food sources available. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do. As previously mentioned, raccoons can eat a wide variety of things, including berries and grubs living in your lawn. However, one way to limit their food sources is to keep these creatures out of your trash.

A raccoon digging through the trash which leads a homeowner to wonder how to keep raccoons out of the trash

How to Keep Raccoons Out of the Trash

Since raccoons are highly skilled at using their paws to access food sources, it’s wise for homeowners to make sure their trash is tightly secured. Otherwise, raccoons might see your garbage can as an invitation to stick around. Some steps you can take to discourage raccoons from taking up residence near yours and keep them out of your trash include:

  • put any garbage in a can that has a tight, animal-proof lid;
  • store your garbage in a locked shed, garage or another sealed area;
  • freeze odorous food scraps like fish and chicken before you put them in the trash;
  • wait until the morning of trash day to take your garbage can out to the curb and
  • if you must keep your trash bin out in the open, use a container with locking handles or secure the lid with a large stone, heavy brick, chain or bungee cord.

Beyond securing your trash can, it’s also important to limit raccoons’ access to other possible food sources. For example, if you have a garden, you can use motion-activated lights to deter raccoons from gorging themselves on your prized veggies and fruits. Additionally, if you have a dog, cat or other pets, feed them inside if possible. If you must feed your pet outside, pick up their feeding dish and clean up any uneaten food or scraps right after your pet finishes eating.

Removing other food sources like bird feeders or ornamental ponds can also help deter raccoons. If you don’t want to remove the bird feeder completely, you can try hanging it higher up, putting only a small amount of food in the feeder or bringing the feeder inside each night.

Unfortunately, even after all these steps, there is no guarantee that the raccoons will leave. This is why contacting a professional to trap and remove raccoons is typically the most efficient and effective form of pest control.

In addition to all of the damage raccoons are capable of causing, another reason why homeowners may be concerned about raccoons is that they can carry rabies. Many assume that seeing a raccoon out during the day is an indication that the creature is sick. But, is that true?

A raccoon out during the day walking across someone's lawn

Should I Worry If I See a Raccoon Out During the Day?

While raccoons are mostly nocturnal, you may see one during the day. Raccoons are extremely curious and they have great eyesight, so they sometimes venture out in daylight hours if they spot something tasty or exciting. Similarly to a possum out during the day, raccoons might also be out when it’s light out if they’re moving to a new area, they’re trying to access a food source that’s guarded at night or they need more time to search for food for their new litter of babies.

Nonetheless, it’s essential to use caution around raccoons because their behavior can be unpredictable, and they are a carrier of rabies. Some common signs that a raccoon might be injured or have rabies, roundworm or another illness include:

  • difficulty walking;
  • making loud and weird noises;
  • significant aggression, especially if unprovoked;
  • lethargy;
  • disorientation or confusion;
  • self-mutilation;
  • loss of balance;
  • no reaction to loud noises or movements;
  • tangled, matted or wet hair;
  • watery eyes and
  • foaming at the mouth or other discharge.

If you see a raccoon that is acting strangely, it’s best to contact a wildlife control specialist instead of trying to handle a potentially ill animal on your own. It’s often difficult to figure out whether a wild animal is sick or injured without getting very close to them. This can put you in serious danger because raccoons that are sick might bite or attack you when you approach them.

A pest control professional can take care of raccoons on your property for you, so you don’t have to put yourself at risk. An expert can set up an effective plan to trap and remove any raccoons you’ve spotted on your property and check for signs that more raccoons might be living in your home or yard. A pro can also create a pest control plan to target any flea or tick problems that developed due to a raccoon or raccoons living on your property.

ABC Can Remove Your Unwanted House Guests 

Raccoons can be cunning and bold creatures that are active virtually year-round, making it extremely difficult to try to cut off their food sources or get them to otherwise leave on their own. When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services, our specialists will be able to strategically set traps to remove all of the raccoons on your property. We can also develop a full-property treatment plan to control common insect and animal pests that have become a nuisance so you won’t have to worry about dealing with these problems on your own.

Learn More

Comments are closed.