Spring is a wonderful time of the year where the weather heats up and the flowers start to bloom. It’s also baby raccoon season. Mating season takes places during the winter months, so like clockwork, every spring raccoon kits are born. The earliest litters arriving in March with the latest ones coming as late as June. If a mother loses her first litter, she will sometimes have a second pregnancy with the babies coming mid-summer. But this is the exception and not the rule.
For homeowners, renters, cottagers, and business owners, it’s important to take note of raccoon baby season—mother and babies may be hiding in or around your home and early detection is important. Here’s what you need to know.
Time of day and time of year are the most important factors to consider. Raccoons will be active at night, during the day they are sleeping and hidden away. Next consideration is the season. Although they are active during the warmer months as well, you are up to three times as likely to have a raccoon break-in during spring months. As they look for warm places to have their litters they become more and more brazen. Our homes are ideal places for these pests to target.
As a rule of thumb come springtime, it should be automatic that you inspect your attic and the areas around your home.
To raise their kits, mother raccoons will want safe and warm places to hide out, away from predators and the elements. Some of the common places they use are attics, sheds, under your porch, or in walls, ceiling, or crawl spaces.
Signs you have raccoons in your attic should be fairly obvious. Often times there will be a visible entry point on the exterior of your house. They often use roof vents, pull back siding or damage soffit panels to gain entry. Other things to look out for is debris, roof shingles or insulation around your property. Raccoons are the only animal large enough to leave such obvious evidence. Another dead giveaway is noise. Raccoons will make a loud thumping sound and will be active at night.
On top of the obvious damage done entering your home, raccoons actually do the bulk of their damage preparing their nest and during the subsequent birth. In order to make a suitable nest, these insolent tenants will often tear up cooling systems, fans, and vents. They will chew through wires, wooden beams, shred wallpaper, vent ducts, and insulation to find bedding material. This is when the damage adds up.
It's not uncommon for homeowners to only become aware they are housing a family once they hear the babies crying. If this happens you are looking at a whole other situation. The birthing process is messy, and the babies will not even open their eyes for the first 21 days approximately. Therefore if not prevented before this stage, the safe eviction and prevention process is complicated exponentially. Al this to say it's best to keep an eye and an ear out, especially during spring.
Keep in mind further prevention work will most likely be necessary to avoid this problem reoccurring down the road. Securing exposed areas is an important step in protecting against further damage to your home. All houses have several vulnerable areas should an animal decide break-in. It's just most of us are never made aware of that fact. The reality is once any animal has entered yourhouse, their scent wil atrract other neighbourhood pests. This hormonal scent (left by the raccoons) increases the likelihood of other wildife attmepting entry.
A typical litter is between three and five kits, though they can have as many as eight or as few as one. Most commonly born in early spring, they have been seen up to early June.
The kits are born with their eyes closed and are completely dependent on their mothers for their survival for the first 3 weeks minimum. After about six weeks, they will begin to move around in the den site. At around the eight- to twelve-week point, the kits will be mature enough to forage with their mothers. The juveniles will stay with their mothers through the fall, while the female raccoons may stay with their mothers for a full year.
This timeline is the main reason it's in every homeowner's best interest to prevent entry before a mother can have her litter. If the babies are not in an accessible place, wildlife technicians will have no choice but to wait until they are mobile. This is a long, messy and loud process best avoided.
If you do discover you are housing a young family, do not attempt to remove or relocate them yourselves. Mother raccoons are very territorial and can become hyper-aggressive around their newborns. Contact your local wildlife removal experts immediately as time is of the essence when dealing with raccoons.
Motherhood is a wondrous thing—but no one will blame you if you don’t want a mother raccoon and her babies in your home. As discussed above, they’ll create a huge mess, make a lot of noise, damage the structure of your home, and cause a lot of frustration.
If a mother raccoon has given birth to her kits in an area of your home that is accessible, a humane wildlife prevention company will be able to safely extract the babies and allow the mother to relocate them. This process involves using an insulated and heated baby box as well as a one-way door removal system.
The technician will manually remove each baby placing them in the baby box. This will then be placed near the exit point. Next, a one-way door will be affixed to the entry point used to gain access to the structure. The mother will leave once things quiet down (most likely that night), find her babies and relocate them to another den. Raccoons are pretty smart creatures, they have several dens in the same area.
A mother raccoon will go to great lengths to hide her babies and keep them safe. You might not realize she has a family hiding in your attic. Often, the nest will be built in an area that’s inaccessible to you, perhaps tucked into an eave or inside a wall.
The kits, however, are able to vocalize almost immediately. Though you might not be able to see them, you may be able to hear them, particularly at night. You might hear crying, chattering, or squealing that sounds like a bird’s song.
Even if you do not see or hear them, it’s always best to assume there are kits nearby if it’s raccoon baby season.
Call the Experts
Managing a wildlife situation in your home is never easy, but the problem is compounded when you have to deal with a mother raccoon and her kits. To the more industrious amongst us, it is tempting to attempt to resolve the situation on our own. When dealing with a mother raccoon and her newborn kits, it's best not to risk significant damage or injury. Call the pros.
It’s best to call a humane wildlife removal company if you suspect you have a raccoon in your home, particularly during raccoon baby season. Raccoon removal should only be done by professionals wildlife technicians. Specialists will not only remove the adult raccoon but also locate and remove the babies by hand to reunite them with their mother.