Raccoons have adapted well to city life. They are mainly active at night and feed on grubs, insects, small rodents, eggs, fleshy fruits (like grapes), nuts and vegetables (like corn). Remember these tips:
- Never feed raccoons
- Do not approach raccoons and touch them, even if they appear tame, sick or injured
- Do not feed pets outside. Pet food left outside will attract raccoons.
- Properly dispose of waste on your property in your waste bins.
- Raccoons will eat garbage left on the ground and compost.
- Always make sure to take your green bin and garbage containers to the curb on the morning of pick-up and not the night before.
How to Protect Your Lawn and Garden
- Raccoons are attracted to lawns and gardens, especially after a rainfall when grubs and larvae are near the surface.
- They dig small round holes and roll up large chunks of sod to eat the grubs.
- Use natural lawn and garden care methods to kill the grubs.
- Sprinkle pure soap flakes on the lawn and water thoroughly.
- Mix bone meal in garden soil.
- Sprinkle diluted tabasco sauce over fruits and vegetables.
- Light up the area where raccoons are a problem. Use one 100 watt bulb for every 15 square metres of garden (50 ft. by 50 ft.).
How to Protect Your Home
- Raccoons can enter uncapped chimneys, loose shingles and openings in attics, roofs and eaves, garages and sheds.
- They also like to hide under decks and other structures.
If raccoons do get in, you can evict them and discourage them from re-entering by:
Step 1: If you think you know where the animals get in, check to see if this entrance is in use:
- Sprinkle flour and look for footprints.
- Stuff a rag or bunched up ball of paper in the opening and check later to see if it was removed.
Step 2: Encourage raccoons to leave on their own by making the home unlivable.
- Hang vinegar-soaked rags.
- Play a loud radio tuned to an all-talk station.
- Keep the area brightly lit.
- Do not attempt to smoke animals out of the chimney – they could be suffocated or burned.
Step 3: Before any opening is closed off or any chimney is capped:
- Check to see that all raccoons have moved out, especially between March and July when there may be babies.
- Make sure no animal is trapped inside a sealed area -the animal will die and decompose.
Step 4: When you are sure that all raccoons have left:
- Secure the opening to prevent re-entry.
- Block all holes with galvanized sheet metal.
- Repair siding and holes in buildings.
- Use heavy, rustproof screening to cover open air vents.
- Cap chimneys securely.
- Trim overhanging tree branches.
- Remove unused TV towers.
- Leave behind vinegar to discourage the raccoons in their search for another opening back into their old den.
- Vinegar has a strong odour. When using anything that has an unpleasant odour or fumes to deter wildlife, it is important that you first check to make sure the babies can move around on their own. Any animal exposed to fumes may become ill or die if they cannot escape.
How to Clean Up Raccoon Feces
- Material contaminated with raccoon feces should be removed carefully and burned, buried or sent to a landfill.
- Wear gloves and a face mask.
- Treat decks, patios, and other surfaces with boiling water.
- Always wash hands well with soap and water.
Rabies in Racoons
Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted by animals, such as raccoons. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of rabies in animals.
Here are some tips on protecting yourself:
- Avoiding contact with wild animals, including raccoons is the best way to protect yourself.
- If you see a raccoon on your property, do not feed, pet or disturb it.
- Discourage racoons from coming into property by wild-life proofing your home and lawn.
- Always supervise your pet dogs and keep dogs on leash and away from wild animals. Dogs should not be allowed to run loose in public spaces, unless in designated dog off-leash areas.
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies.
- Call 311 if you see sick, injured or very young raccoons.
Seek medical attention immediately if you are bitten or scratched by raccoons. Learn more about what you need to do to report an animal bite or scratch to Toronto Public Health.
Canine Distemper in Raccoons
- Canine Distemper (CDV) is a virus that is generally present in the raccoon population, but at low levels. Dogs can also contract this virus.
- Raccoons with distemper may approach people, or curl up to sleep in open areas in close proximity to people. They generally act disoriented or lethargic, but can become aggressive if cornered. They may have seizures.
- Canine distemper does not pose a threat to human health. Dogs that have not been vaccinated for distemper can become infected if they come in contact with a raccoon with distemper.
- If residents notice a raccoon displaying abnormal behaviour, they should call 311.
- Residents are not to approach or feed the raccoons.
What is normal raccoon behaviour?
- Raccoons in an urban setting can become quite tame and seem to have little or no fear of humans.
- They are nocturnal and sleep during the day however during breeding season you may see an active raccoon during daylight hours.
- Raccoons may also be seen during the day if they have been flushed from hiding.
- They are not true hibernators which means they may be seen during the mild winter weather.
- Raccoons are only aggressive if cornered – they would sooner run away if confronted.
What is abnormal raccoon behaviour?
- They appear blind and confused and may wander aimlessly and may become aggressive if cornered.
- A mucus discharge will often be present around the eyes and nose and may be accompanied by coughing, tremors, seizures or chewing fits.