“There’s a raccoon in the neighborhood living in the eves of our neighbors home. I saw it last night, and think it might have gone into labor. Anything you can advise us on?”
I certainly love getting questions from folks, and love being able to answer things. Sometimes it’s difficult to answer succinctly though. This was a question Chris from Bangor sent me last week. With his permission I’m sharing our conversation, his video of the raccoon, and going into a little more detail for folks that may benefit in the future.
For me, the first thing I’m interested in is the homeowners concerns. Are they worried about diseases? Damage to their own property? The welfare of the neighbors? The welfare of the raccoon? Is this just mild curiosity and interest?
Everyone has varying levels of tolerance for wildlife and wildlife encounters. One solution for some folks may, not be best for others. Or the wildlife for that matter.
First off, don’t play with it. Don’t feed it either. In Chris’s situation, it does appear as the raccoon may be a female returning to her home in the eaves. This is the season after all when young start becoming more mobile, and she may have just needed to get away from nursing and get some food for herself.
“She has been in and out for at least three weeks. Trash cans and cat food abound in this neighborhood.”
Well that’s an obvious problem already. I’d say the majority of wildlife issues stem from both an overpopulation of wildlife, coupled with an abundance of artificial food sources. Often times it’s the bird feeders, gardens, compost bins, unsecured trash and food wastes, and outdoor pet food that contributes to high populations. It’s just asking for trouble. Especially when animals are determined to find a den like a mother expecting babies, or the onset of Winter.
Eaves, walls, and attics make awesome nurseries for baby raccoon’s. They are full of soft, fuzzy, warm insulation. Not to mention they are completely secluded and easy to defend. While you can’t really tell for certainty the sex of the individual in the video, the odds seem good that it’s a female. She does appear rather fat still, and could be just preparing a nest, or recently dropped. It’s pretty difficult to tell without closer observation or getting into the attic and finding the babies to see what’s really going on.
“If we got a have a heart trap, how could we know if she had the babies yet and what to do about that? I would hate to relocate without the babies.”
Relocating is a tricky business. You can’t go over five miles, per Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regulations to minimize the potential spread of rabies, diseases, and stresses on other individuals and populations. In some states like Virginia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and more, it’s illegal to relocate wildlife.
It’s tricky in Maine because you are limited to a 5 mile radius, but you also need to go at least a few miles away to ensure individuals do not return to the capture site. You also don’t want to play the peanut game where your shuffling one persons problem to someone else. That’s not very neighborly, and not fair to the critters.
I’ll go far more in depth about the good and bad about relocation in a future post if folks are interested. For now, back to our raccoon, you could always attempt to check her body composition for signs of nursing. It’s important to be very careful though, as raccoon mothers are extremely violent and unforgiving. They don’t care about your well being, like we do for them. I would recommend looking through the cage, not actually handling them. Better yet, hire a high quality wildlife control agent to help you, and not worry about a thing.
The only other alternative to finding babies? Get in the attic and look around, watch for signs, and listen for increased sounds like banging, bumps, or squeals. All the things immature beings do as they grow up.
In this situation though, she’s been coming and going for three weeks already, and it hasn’t been an issue. I’d recommend waiting a few more weeks until the potential babies are mobile. Capture and relocation will have a higher success rate, and the costs and time will be lower without having to tear open the attic or walls.
“Thank you so much. I will be sure to pass on to the homeowners all the info, and you may be hearing from them.”
Well, Thank you, Chris from Bangor, for the questions and great video. I’m here to help you out. Let me know if I can answer anything else for you, or your neighbors, in the future. Good luck!