Raccoons are nocturnal omnivores that like to live near streams or lakes. They build their dens in crevices or hollow trees and normally stay clear of residences. However, sometimes they create havoc when they find garbage cans and use the garbage for a food source. Raccoons can also be a problem when they make their homes under porches or in structures, such as chimneys.

Females searching for areas to nest can do the most damage to a home. Raccoons have been known to tear up shingles, crawl into attics and destroy insulation. Raccoons do not hibernate, but they will remain in their dens all winter, venturing out on warm days for food. Raccoons who live in urban areas will remain visible year-round, due to the amount of food available and the variety of shelters.

Raccoons were recently identified as the major rabies host in the United States. Along with rabies, they can also carry roundworms, which can be fatal to humans. Any contact with a raccoon should be examined by a medical professional.

Raccoons can grow to be quite large, up to 46 inches in length, and can weigh anywhere from 12 to 25 pounds. They are also very dexterous and their forepaws resemble human hands.

The name “raccoon” is based on an Algonquin word “arakun”. The meaning has been translated as “he who scratches with his hands.”

Reduce raccoon access to the roof and chimney by keeping overhanging branches cut back. Clear away woodpiles or debris from near your home and seal up any exterior openings under your porch or near your garage.

If you have problem raccoons, do not try to get rid of them yourself. Seek the help of a pest control professional. Raccoons can be quite vicious and will bite if cornered or handled.