Raccoon Facts & Information

Everything you need to know about raccoons

picture of a raccoon
Raccoons are mid-sized animals that are about 2-3 feet long. Their bodies are stocky, round and covered in salt-and-pepper colored fur. Raccoons are known best for the “black mask” of fur around their eyes, also known as a “bandit mask,” and black rings around their furry tails. They are pretty cute until you see them digging through your garbage with their greasy little paws and slicing through the bag with their sharp claws. Raccoons are omnivores, meaning they will eat both plants and other animals. This includes fruits, berries, nuts, fish, frogs, mussels, crayfish, insects, turtles, mice, rabbits, muskrats and bird eggs. Raccoons usually have one litter per year, which is usually born in late spring or early summer. One litter may contain between three and five young. Raccoons can live as long as 12 years in the wild. They do not hibernate but do become inactive during severe winter weather.

Not the animal you have?

Where Do Raccoons Live

Raccoons prefer to live in forested areas near a water source. Although commonly found in association with water and trees, raccoons can also be found around farmsteads and livestock watering areas. Raccoons typically like to den in hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, muskrat houses, barns and abandoned buildings, dense clumps of cattail, haystacks, or rock crevices. They are also known to use parts of homes, including chimneys, attics, and hollow areas beneath porches to make dens. Raccoons are mammals that are rarely seen during the day because of their nocturnal habits. They are found throughout the United States.

How Did I Get Raccoons

Raccoons are highly opportunistic. They will find their way to any open garbage. They often raid, and can make a mess of, contents in garbage cans while they are in search of food. If you notice trash dispersed on your property, raccoons could be to blame. Raccoon paw prints may also be visible in the yard. Raccoons sometimes kill poultry, destroy bird nests, and damage gardens or crops, so any signs of these types of activities can also mean there is a raccoon infestation. So, if you have any of those things around your home, raccoons will be around.

What Problems Do Raccoons Cause

While not all raccoons have rabies, raccoons in general are major hosts of rabies in the U.S. Just because a raccoon is active during the daytime, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s carrying rabies, though. There are some indicators that a raccoon could be infected with the rabies virus. Key symptoms of a rabid raccoon include confusion and disorientation, leg paralysis or difficulty walking, wet and tangled hair, significant aggression, and production of very loud, unusual noises. Rabid raccoons may also foam at the mouth and have watery eyes.

In addition to the rabies they could be carrying, raccoons can do some major damage. Damage to a home’s insulation, wood, shingles, electrical wiring, walls, or other parts of the structure is a telltale sign that a raccoon has taken up residence inside. They also will poop, pee, and use attic materials to create a nest. All of that can not only destroy the insulation but once the urine and feces dry out, it can become airborne – infecting the air in your home.

How Do I Get Rid of Raccoons

There are various precautions that homeowners can take to try to avoid a raccoon infestation from taking root. First, raccoons can find access into homes through broken vents, holes, uncapped chimneys, and other openings along the roof. Make sure to regularly inspect, repair, and seal any of these or other potential points of entry. Loose siding and shingles should also be repaired, and it’s also helpful to install a mesh cover or cap over chimneys and other exposed openings to prevent entry.

Homeowners should store trash in sealed areas, ideally in a locked shed or outhouse. Raccoons are very adept at learning how to open garbage cans, so if trash cans are kept out in the open, it’s best to use tightly fitting, animal-proof lids to avoid unwanted attention from hungry raccoons on the prowl for food. Birdseed, bird feeders, and fountains should also be removed, as they are sources of sustenance to raccoons and other wildlife. Likewise, built up debris, brush, and leaves can serve as perfect hiding spots and dwellings for raccoons, so it’s important to regularly rid the yard of these piles. Also, consider storing firewood, which raccoons may use to help build a shelter, at least 20 feet from the house during the cooler months. If you do get a raccoon in your home or attic, you’ll want a professional to remove it. Not only do you not want to hurt the animal, you don’t want to get into a hissing and scratching match with one!


We’re passionate about controlling raccoons because we live and work here – it’s our neighborhood, too. We’ve been keeping homes and businesses in Kentucky and portions of Ohio safe from pests since 1972. OPC Pest Services has the experience you can trust.
  • Expert pest control since 1972

  • Quality Pro certified company

  • Satisfaction guarantee.

GET A QUOTE (844) 670-6942

“We’ve used OPC for over 16 years for termites, moles, and 4 seasons pest control and just added rodent control stations since a family of rats moved under our deck. They are professional, knowledgeable and reliable at a fair price.”

Allie R.
Louisville, KY