Raccoons are among the most recognizable of nuisance wildlife because of their "masked" faces and ringed tails. They're also among the most annoying, troublesome, destructive, and sometimes dangerous animals that we handle. They're very strong, very smart, have very good manual dexterity, and are excellent climbers. Raccoons can get into any part of a house from the basement or crawl space to the attic.
Raccoons are also very good fighters, especially when they're cornered or surprised. Healthy raccoons won't go out of their way to attack humans; but when they feel threatened, they're willing and well-prepared to fight.
Part of the problem with raccoons is that a lot of people seem to think that they're cute, which perhaps they are, in their own way. But that doesn't make them friendly. Adult wild raccoons are decidedly unfriendly animals. Even domesticated ones aren't very friendly. Pet raccoons learn to tolerate people, but their natural dispositions are very independent. The fact that they tolerate humans who keep feeding them doesn't mean that they like humans very much. Their nature is to be independent and solitary.
Raccoons are also big enough, strong enough, and skilled enough fighters that they can put a serious -- perhaps deadly -- hurting on a human. So don't even think about do-it-yourself raccoon removal. Raccoons are very capable of seriously hurting you if you don't know how to safely trap and remove them from a place they've come to call home.
The need for raccoon removal in Atlanta peaks in the fall and winter when most young male raccoons leave their mothers' nests for their first winters, but raccoons are active all year.
Raccoons can do very serious damage getting into a home and once they get inside. They tear up insulation and HVAC ducts in attics, damage items that are stored there, build nests that can be quite large and present a fire hazard, and cause damage to the structure itself when they do things like tear the shingles off the roof or enlarge holes made by other animals so they can get into the house.
Raccoons also present health, sanitation, and safety hazards when they get inside houses. Like wild animals in general, raccoons are hosts to parasites that can transmit diseases; and their droppings can harbor bacterial and fungal pathogens that can become airborne and make people sick. This is especially true if you have forced-air heat or central air-conditioning, and any part of the system is in the space where the raccoon is (such as the attic or crawl space).
Another danger when raccoons get into a home is that a family member may accidentally confront and startle the animal. This happens a lot when raccoons are living in a seldom-accessed storage area in an attic or crawl space, and a family member goes into the area to get something. Raccoons also nest in chimneys quite often and sometimes travel -- or fall -- into the living area of the house.
Another thing that makes raccoons dangerous is that they have one of the higher incidences of rabies of our Georgia nuisance wildlife species. Rabies is an incurable disease that is transmitted in the saliva of infected animals, especially carnivores like raccoons. If there is any chance at all that you have been exposed, you will have to undergo prophylactic rabies treatment immediately. Once the symptoms of rabies appear in a human, it's too late to treat it. The patient will die.
In the case of raccoons, the risk of rabies is compounded by the fact that they sometimes become very passive and weak and are more likely to come out in the daytime when they are infected. To someone not familiar with the symptoms (especially children), these sick animals may appear "friendly" or "tame," prompting children and other good-natured folks to want to feed them, pet them, rescue them, or even take them into their homes.
We cannot possibly stress this enough: Leave wild raccoons alone; and especially leave wild raccoons that appear sick, tame, or friendly alone. Teach this to your children, as well. Wild animals in general should not be touched, handled, petted, or otherwise handled by non-professionals; but wild raccoons should especially be avoided.
Two things that make raccoon control especially challenging are, firstly, that they're very intelligent animals; and secondly, that they have better dexterity than most animals.
Raccoons are intelligent enough to learn how to do things like open gates and garbage pails, pry away plywood covering openings in buildings, and avoid tripping traps. They also have a rudimentary ability to use tools, such as using a stick to open the latch on a gate that they can't quite reach. Their intelligence makes raccoons more difficult to trap, remove, and seal out of a home or building than most other critters.
Raccoons also have very good dexterity in their front paws, which also have sensitive nerve endings that they use for additional sensory input. That's actually the reason why raccoons "wash" their food. The water makes those nerves more sensitive and helps them avoid eating spoiled food. It's almost like a second sense of smell.
As annoying and destructive as raccoons can be, they're still protected animals that must be trapped and removed in a humane manner. We only use safe, humane, non-chemical methods to control raccoons.
Trapping, removing, and excluding raccoons can be a challenge because of their intelligence, dexterity, and strength. More so than most animals, raccoons will often make a special effort to get back into a home after they've been sealed out; and they have the intelligence, dexterity, and physical strength to do that unless a first-class raccoon-exclusion job was done. DIY raccoon-proofing or raccoon exclusion done by handymen rarely works out well.
Raccoons can also get into any part of a house from the crawl space to the roof; so when raccoon-proofing a house, the entire house must be inspected and any possible entry points sealed, regardless of where the raccoons were found. This may include things like installing raccoon-proof chimney caps on the chimneys, and sturdy doors on the entrances to the basement or crawl space. Raccoon exclusion truly is a top-to-bottom job that requires the skills of a professional.
Luckily, that's why we're here. Rid-A-Critter is Metro Atlanta's most well-established wildlife control company. We've done many thousands of raccoon-removal and raccoon-proofing jobs throughout all of Northern Georgia, and we've pretty much got it down to a science. We also have the personnel and equipment to handle any raccoon control job, no matter how big (or how small).
Please contact us if you need help with a raccoon problem. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, please take a look at some pictures our crew has taken of some of the thousands of raccoon jobs we've done throughout the Metro Atlanta area.
Raccoon Control Gallery
For more information about raccoon removal or how to keep raccoons out of your home, please contact us.