If you hear the noise of scraping claws, thumps, and chirping or growly sounds, or you hear the crying of babies, it is possible that you have a family of raccoons in the attic. While mice and rats scampering around in the attic may sound similar to the noises made by them, raccoons are much heavier and make louder noises and more thumping. The raccoons will be livelier at dusk, when they will be preparing to go out and forage for food, but you may hear them in the daytime as well. Although raccoons are nocturnal animals, an attic is typically dark enough that they will be saomewhat active during the day, but they won’t likely go out for food and water until after dark.
Why My Attic?
Raccoons are always on the lookout for a warm, dry place to live. The attic in your house is, therefore, an ideal home for a raccoon. Pregnant females, in particular, will access an attic if given the opportunity because it is a safe place for her to give birth to and raise her babies. They will remain there for several weeks, if not months, once the babies are born. If there are no changes to the condition of their attic home, the raccoons may decide to live there indefinitely, particularly if they have access to good food and water sources nearby.
If you’re wondering how in the world a raccoon could get into your attic, it is actually quite easy. For one thing, raccoons are excellent climbers. Siding, brick, and wood can all be scaled by a raccoon. They may also climb up a gutter or drain pipe. If you have trees that overhang your roof, or are even reasonably close to it, then a raccoon may climb the tree and then get to your roof. Once it is on your roof, there are numerous ways it can get in.
Raccoons are strong enough to pull up the shingles and enter through the wood if they are determined to get in. There may also be other places that will allow them entry, as they only need a space of a few inches to enter through. Gable and roof vents are common entry points, as are soffit vents. If you have weak boards under the eaves of your roof, they can get in through there as well. A pregnant female can be quite aggressive when it comes to finding a safe place to have her babies, so any opening or weak point in your roof can provide a spot for her to get in through.
Looking for Signs of a Raccoon in Your Attic
Since raccoons are much larger than rats and mice, it is harder for them to hide. Open up your attic and look around with a flash light. If there are adult or baby raccoons living there, it will be hard to miss the signs. You will see droppings and smell urine if raccoons are in your attic. You may also find that insulation on pipes or around ducts is chewed or torn. Another sign of raccoons in your attic is flattened insulation. As the raccoon makes a den out of your attic, it will smash down the insulation, making it noticeably flatter. Finally, there is the sign that you can’t miss: an actual live raccoon. If your attic space is open rather than crowded with boxes and other items that the raccoon can hide behind, then you are likely to spot it.
Removing the raccoons once they have taken up residence in your attic is not an easy feat. For one, it may be illegal to poison them and certainly it is inhumane. In addition, if you have a family consisting of a mother and babies, you can’t wait for the mother to leave for the night and then close up the entry point because the babies will starve to death. Not only is this inhumane, but the smell of rotting raccoons in your house is not pleasant. If there are babies involved, then you will need to remove the entire family in a way that is safe for both you and the raccoons.
Safety First for Babies
You’ll first want to remove the babies, preferably when the mother is not around. Listen for her to leave or watch your attic so you can see her going out; this will also help you discover the entry point so that you can seal it up once the raccoons are gone. The preferred method is live trapping the animals and then removing them. If you can’t do this you can try wearing thick leather gloves, scoop up the babies and place them in a box to be taken outside. That may be enough to prevent the mother from entering the attic again, because she will want to be with her babies. You will need to examine the attic and roof carefully to determine the entry point or points.
Make repairs as needed so that you can prevent the mother from returning. If the mother returns, or there are only adult raccoons in your attic, then you will need to trap them. If you are not comfortable attempting this, then you should enlist the services of an animal wildlife removal expert to remove the raccoons. Once you are sure all of the raccoons are gone from your attic then you can seal it to prevent them or other animals entering it.