Whether you’re are a night owl or an early bird, you may have seen these furry bear-like creatures turning your trash can upside down scavenging for food. Raccoons, like rats, are not picky eaters; they will eat anything as long as they find it nutritious. Being nocturnal animals, raccoons are not usually seen during the day. This makes many people wonder where do they go at night and where do raccoons live?
In this article, we will explore the habitat of these highly intelligent, curious, and destructive little creatures.
Where do raccoons live?
In their natural habitat, raccoons live in forested areas or woods, preferably close to a natural water body. They have a preference for deciduous forests with plenty of trees for cover. Likewise, you will find them in mountain regions and marshes, as well as areas with dense brush.
In other words, they’re just about everywhere.
Raccoons in the wild
As a highly adaptable animal, raccoons can be found in several regions of the world. Predominantly, they are common in North America, including the U.S and Canada. Also, they live in Asia, South America, and Europe.
When in the wild, they have a short lifespan of 2 – 3 years. Raccoons can grow up to 27 inches in size, weighing nearly 40 lbs. in some cases. One rare case of a pet raccoon reaching 75 lbs!
But how long do raccoons live in captivity?
There have been several reports of raccoons living up to 17 years in captivity and under human care.
Do raccoons live in trees?
Contrary to rumors, raccoons do not live in trees. You might have seen them resting in trees during the day. Nevertheless, raccoons don’t live in trees. They only seek shelter in hollow trees and sometimes nest in them.
As exceptional climbers, raccoons make use of their sharp claws to quickly scale trees. From there, they commonly hop over to the roof of a house where they can gain access to attics and have babies.
Where do raccoons sleep?
A raccoon’s den is its actual home, and it’s where it makes its nest. In rural areas, dens may be other animals’ burrows that are re-purposed by raccoons.
Hollow logs, brush piles, and underneath rocks are often ideal locations for a raccoon to build its den. When in urban settings, raccoons will set up their den anywhere they have access to food. This includes abandoned vehicles, attics, chimney, or even rooftops. They sometimes have more than one den to maximize their safety.
Unless you’re an avid lover of NatGeo Wild, there’s a possibility that you know next to nothing about raccoons. Sure, maybe you’ve seen them in your yard, in videos doing funny stuff or causing trouble, even at a zoo.
But how much do you really know about raccoons?
Raccoons are mid-sized omnivorous nocturnal mammals with characteristics black mask of fur around the eye region and black rings on the furry tails. They possess a strong sense of hearing and sight with a vastly developed sense of touch. As heavy eaters, raccoons have extremely agile forefeet that they use in grabbing nuts, fruits, crumbs, and smaller insects they hunt for food. They are known to wash their hands and food in water – this explains their love for habitats close to the stream and other water sources.
Although they are not aggressive animals towards human beings, nevertheless, you need to be wary of them and steer clear of their path as they could be defensive if they consider you as a threat.
Typically, raccoons rest by the day and are active at night hunting for food as an independent and non gregarious animals.
Raccoons are considered as one of the major carriers of rabies, particularly in the eastern part of the United States.
When humans and raccoons cross paths
It’s a common occurrence for human to encroach on animal spaces. However, among creatures that have learned to co-exist with man is raccoon. Before, these native mammals were restricted to their natural homes. Now, you will see them in urban and suburban areas such as attics, abandoned farmhouses, sewers, and barns.
These furry creatures are not the type to shy away from human interaction. As long as they can find food to eat and suitable shelter, they are always ready to cross their boundaries.
If you live in an area invaded by raccoons, you will see them mostly at night, prying lids off trash cans, coolers, and raiding campsites. There are several reports where raccoons turned on tap to have a drink.
Raccoons habitually claim an area called home range. This is a specific space raccoon have transformed to their rightful homes. The size of the range is dependent on several factors including the age of the raccoon and the location. Older raccoons command wider range while rural and suburban raccoons have more extensive ranges compared to urban raccoons. The size of the home range is usually between 1 square mile to 18 square miles.
Although with their antics they are fun to watch, however, they could become a nuisance and destroy your garden or raid your trash. Also, that they often carry rabies implies that you should keep them at length as much as possible.
How to keep raccoons away
If you are battling with keeping raccoon away from your attics, there are several ways you can achieve that:
- Ensure that food is well contained.
- Seal trash cans using lids, bungee cords, or trash can locks
- Cover composts to prevent raccoons from gaining access
- Chase raccoon away with outdoor and motion-detector light
- Spray raccoon repellants close to raccoon infested areas
- Seal any access to attic or basement areas
- Catch raccoons with trap and change their location
Raccoons with their persistence can be a real nuisance. Don’t be fooled by their innocent looks. If you don’t enjoy sharing your attics with them, then try as much as possible to chase them away without harming them.