Raccoons are awfully cute but there are reasons to not want them near your home or property. The main reasons are because they can create a bit of a mess getting into your garbage, cause damage if they get inside your home, and they carry diseases that can spread to cats and other animals.

Because raccoons are a major carrier of distemper, when they’re infected the disease spreads quickly to other animals, including cats, whether they are pets or feral. If you have raccoons nearby, be sure to keep your cats’ rabies vaccinations up to date as there is no treatment for feline distemper.

Mostly they are active at night, but if you see one during the day, there is no cause for alarm, unless it behaves strangely – appearing disoriented or partially paralyzed, or perhaps wandering in a circle. Raccoons can exist comfortably in all sorts of habitats – farms, forests, suburban neighborhoods, and even cities – and typically make their dens in trees or in burrows abandoned by other creatures. Unfortunately for us, this can sometimes lead to raccoon dens in chimneys, sheds, attics, and the close-in areas under decks and porches.

Raccoons are easy to distinguish from other mammals of their size, due to the mask-like black and white color patterns on their face, and their striped black, gray and white tails. Their mating season runs from January to March. After a gestation period of just over two months, new cubs are born – most often in the mid-spring – with anywhere from 3 to 7 per litter. After another five months or so, they become independent, but usually remain with their family for much of the first year. They can grow in size to anywhere between 12 and 36 pounds, and range from 2-3 feet in length (tail included).

Outdoors is probably okay, but you don’t want raccoons taking up residence in your home. Some ways to prevent this are: securing your trash and compost against looters; keeping pet food indoors to decrease temptation; and capping or closing off chimneys, attics and the dark areas under porches and decks.

Distemper is the second most common cause of death for raccoons. There are actually two types of distemper – canine and feline – stemming from two separate viruses. Both are highly contagious, and begin with cold or flu-like symptoms that eventually lead to more debilitating conditions such as pneumonia, anorexia and brain damage. Neither virus has a cure, so when a raccoon with distemper is discovered, the standard treatment is euthanasia. Most sick raccoons don’t make contact with humans, however, so of greater concern is the spread of disease among animals. Humans are not susceptible to the virus, but our pets are, if they do not receive regular vaccines against the disease.

For more information about distemper in raccoons, including symptoms and signs of the disease to be aware of, please visit The Gable’s Raccoon World. The Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs website has a good information on raccoons as well.

Raccoon removal is often required when raccoons decide to take up residence in your home or under your porch. If you suspect that you may have one or more in your attic or somewhere in your home or business, give us a call for a thorough inspection. You want them removed as quickly as possible to minimize damage and waste cleanup. They can ruin an attic pretty quickly by destroying insulation and wood, and filling it with their waste.

Source: Wicked Local: Pembroke Mariner & Express