The perks of owning a backyard are pretty plentiful. There’s plenty of room for kids (or future kids) to run around, you can finally adopt that dog you’ve always wanted, and you have more private space for gardening and entertaining. Sounds nice, right?
BUT amidst all this domestic bliss, while you were creating the perfect space for yourself, you may accidentally create the ideal home for uninvited backyard buddies! As Florida residents know firsthand, raccoons are very common household pests.
If these critters could cohabitate with us peacefully, then maybe, just MAYBE, we would be open to sharing our space with them. But no— these furry little creatures are notorious for wreaking havoc wherever they go!
What Kind of Damage Can Raccoons Do?
Don’t let their surprisingly adorable faces fool you. With their dexterous paws (which look unnervingly like hands) and energy, raccoons can be incredibly destructive.
The Ultimate Garbage Thieves
Ever looked out the kitchen window, only to see your trash can knocked over and garbage strewn all over your driveway? Chances are you’ve just received a visit from four-legged neighbors in search of their dinner!
Yes, these sly critters can indeed topple your bin, because they are MUCH stronger than they look. Not one to skip leg day (or arm day or teeth day!) they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want. Scratching, burrowing, climbing, and shoving are just a few of the lengths they’ll go to get inside your trash can.
Your Home Isn’t Off Limits Either…
If raccoons stuck to hanging out in the great outdoors, we probably wouldn’t have a problem. But they don’t. They’re known to sneak into houses via cat or doggie doors. Quite frankly, that’s scary!
Raccoons who are startled by a human coming to investigate the nighttime racket can quickly become aggressive. Armed with sharp teeth, claws, and a bravery that belies their small stature, they can become formidable adversaries.
Once inside your home, they’ll try to get their little paws on anything they find appealing. These sneaky creatures will go as far as blithely dining from the cat food bowl, or snagging fish right out of your koi pond! They also aren’t scared to pick a fight with the resident cat or dog, which could result in pricey emergency vet bills.
…And The Damage Can Be Great
You’d think that once their bellies are full they would retire, but sometimes it feels like raccoons destroy the fun of it. They are well known for tearing out window and pool screens. Many homeowners have also reported missing shiny objects—perhaps raccoons think they’re toys?
In some cases, damage caused by raccoons can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. This is especially true if they manage to figure out how to get to your attic and take up residence there. In just a short space of time, a family of raccoons can completely destroy your home insulation, ventilation, and electrical systems – especially those that run through attics. In the absence of speedy repairs, water damage or even fires may result.
Are Raccoons Dangerous? Do They Have Rabies?
The short answer is yes. Your garbage, pets, and home infrastructure aren’t the only things under attack when faced with a ‘coon invasion.
Raccoons can turn your attic into a giant litter box, as they urinate and defecate everywhere. The smell alone is unbearable, but unfortunately, that’s not all you’ll have to deal with.
Their feces are a real health hazard because they contain roundworm eggs. If these droppings (or residue of droppings even) are ingested, they can cause ascariasis and lead to severe damage to your nervous system. Plus, raccoons are well-documented carriers of rabies and other diseases.
Aside from posing a threat to your health, they are potentially vicious and should be approached with caution. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat cute demeanor from a distance – up close, those teeth and claws are apparent. They WILL bite or scratch you if they feel threatened. If a raccoon bites you or your pets, be sure to seek medical attention right away.
How to Prevent Raccoons on Your Florida Property
Despite their objective “cuteness,” one thing is clear: raccoons are not your friends. Here’s how to prevent Rocky and his family from camping in your backyard, seeking food, shelter, and a place to raise their young.
Secure Your Garbage Can
Always leave the lid closed, and consider using a robust fastener like a bungee cord to tie down the top if necessary. You can also weigh it down with something heavy, but make sure it’s flat and stable, not something tall that can be easily tipped over. Raccoons are savvy, and will quickly figure out how to leverage their body weight and strength to tip it over to get at the goodies.
Shut Your Garage Door
Be sure to always keep your garage door shut at all times. Don’t give them a chance to get close to your attic!
Rinse Empty Food Packages
Try to rinse your empty food cans and containers before discarding them to the trash or recycling bin. This minimizes any appealing odors that may attract raccoons.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Florida
When all else fails, buy a live raccoon trap. Trapping and relocating them is the most humane way of removing raccoons from your home. But don’t forget that getting rid of raccoons from your property can be a somewhat dangerous mission.
If you’d rather play it safe, call animal control to see how they can help.
Daytona Beach Animal Control: (386) 671-5455
Do you have any other tips and tricks you’d like to share with us? Let us know!
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control