The common raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a small mammal that belongs to the Procyonidae family. They are found throughout North America and are especially prevalent in Quebec. Though some people appreciate raccoons for their mischievous nature, many Quebec residents view them as pests.
Do you want to protect yourself from this wild animal? Keep reading for everything you need to know about raccoons!
Raccoons: Key characteristics
Raccoons have a very distinct appearance. You can easily recognize them by the black mask around their eyes, ringed tails and grey-brown fur.
Adult raccoons measure 80 cm on average (60 cm to 105 cm tip to tail, depending on the raccoon). Their weight varies by season but averages 3.9 to 9 kg. Their tails have 5 to 7 black or brown rings and an average length of 25 to 28 cm.
Raccoons are quite agile thanks to their dexterous paws and non-retractable claws. They can easily scale fences, enter your property and get into your garbage cans or anything else that contains food. The many nerve endings in their paws help raccoons identify which items are edible or not.
A protected species in Quebec
In Quebec, raccoons are a protected species, meaning you cannot kill them. Instead, you can get rid of raccoons by moving them to a more suitable habitat, far away from urban areas.
As pest control experts, we know just how difficult it can be to get rid of a raccoon on your property. Their appetite keeps them coming back to our homes. Even if you follow our raccoon deterrent tips, it’s not always easy to keep them away.
Keep yourself safe and call our raccoon exterminators to trap and safely relocate this pest!
Raccoons are active mainly at night. In general, they won’t travel farther than necessary for food. That said, they can cover up to 300 hectares to find food and meet their basic needs.
Raccoons are relatively good sprinters and can reach speeds of up to 24km/h. They are agile climbers and can handle falls from heights up to 15 m. They are also strong swimmers.
This animal cannot detect colours well and sees the world mainly in grey tones. On the other hand, they have excellent night vision and hearing.
Where do raccoons live?
Raccoons are very adaptable and are found in all kinds of habitats. They can live just as well in the tropical regions of central America as they can in the northern Canadian climate.
Good news for raccoons (less so for us): they adapt very well to humans and our habitats. They just need to have access to drinking water. Despite their ability to adapt, raccoons prefer cool, humid forests.
A raccoon’s territory ranges between 1 to 3 km2. They are generally solitary animals, but they don’t mind the presence of other raccoons in their territory.
Where do raccoons sleep?
Raccoons will generally choose a hollow tree as their den so that they are sheltered at all times. Once again, they are very adaptable creatures and can make their home in abandoned houses, barns, garages and even sewers.
During winter, when temperatures drop dramatically, raccoons spend many hours asleep in their den. They rely on their fat reserves to maintain a steady metabolism and internal temperature and can lose up to 50% of their body weight.
Despite what many people think, raccoons don’t hibernate. They prefer to stay in a warm place and reduce their activity as much as possible to preserve energy.
What do raccoons eat in the wild?
Raccoons are officially considered carnivores. Yet they can adapt to their environment, eating fruits and vegetables like omnivores. However they do have a distinct preference for small animals in aquatic environments.
In reality, these creatures eat everything. Their diet is made up of insects, rodents, amphibians and fish. In areas where prey is scarce, raccoons will happily eat human waste from garbage cans and won’t hesitate to feed on dead animal carcasses if necessary.
Raccoons are hunters. Once they catch their prey, they rub it between their front paws to determine the exact type of food they are about to eat. It’s commonly believed that they wash their food before eating it. They have therefore developed the reputation as hygienic creatures—a rarity in the animal kingdom!
How do they reproduce?
Raccoon mating season falls between early February and late June. However, the majority of raccoons mate in March. They are polygamous, and a male raccoon will expand his territory to include several females. Like many other species, raccoon couples go their separate ways after mating. The female raccoon will then raise her babies on her own.
Their gestation period is between 63 to 65 days. Raccoons generally give birth to 3 to 4 young per year. Baby raccoons typically weigh less than 100 g at birth. Young racoons open their eyes when they are 18 to 24 days old and are weaned after 70 days. They stay with their mother throughout winter and become independent the following spring.
What to do if you find a baby raccoon
You’re walking through the forest one day, or maybe you’ve just arrived home after a long day of work. All of a sudden you see it: a baby raccoon, all alone. You have two options in this situation.
The first is to simply walk away.
The second is to take care of him temporarily, either so you can reunite him with his mother in the same place where you found him or to hand him over to a wildlife center. Either way, here are a few steps you should follow:
- Wear gloves. Raccoons can carry diseases so it’s important to protect your hands.
- If the raccoon isn’t injured, place him in a dry box, e.g. a shoebox.
- Try to put him back as close as possible to the spot where you found him.
If the raccoon is injured:
- Put on gloves.
- Shelter him at your house, in your garage or garden shed. Make sure he’s always near a good heat source.
- Once he’s safe, call a wildlife rescue service like SOS Miss Dolittle or another rehabilitation service near you.
Do raccoons have predators?
Racoons have many predators, including foxes, coyotes, wolves, large hawks and other bigger animals. And of course, humans who hunt them for their fur are also predators.
To protect itself, raccoons try to spend their days hiding in their den and only come out at night.
Are raccoons a threat to your pets?
Despite their adorable appearance, raccoons should not be taken lightly. They pose a risk for your pets for several reasons.
First of all, raccoons carry diseases like rabies. If a rabid raccoon infects your pet, it could die within just a few days. That’s why it’s so important to keep your own animals away from raccoons!
Raccoons can also transmit parasites like roundworms to your pet. These parasites are extremely painful and damage your pet’s intestines.
Finally, all of the above diseases and parasites can also be transmitted to humans. Raccoons are therefore dangerous for Quebec residents.
Raccoons: a pest to watch out for
As previously mentioned, the raccoon is a protected species. It is therefore forbidden to hunt or harm them. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them invade your space!
Have you spotted a raccoon roaming too close to your home or threatening your pets? Call the specialists at Elite Pest Control ASAP!
Our experts will quickly catch the raccoon without harming it. We will remove the pest and restore your peace of mind.