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What Do Raccoons Do in Winter?

raccoon in snow

You might know that the cold weather can drive rodents like mice, rats, and squirrels into your home. But what about raccoons? Should you worry about them in Winter?

Unfortunately, sometimes you do. Raccoons might get into your attic or crawl space during the colder months. Why do they do this and what can you do about it?

What Do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons are omnivores, so they will eat vegetation, insects, and other animals. Their preferred diet will depend on where they live. Raccoons who live near streams might eat frogs or crawfish, for example. Others will steal eggs from bird’s nests, or look for insects and mice. In urban areas, raccoons will go through trash cans, or eat pet food that has been left outsides. Raccoons will eat whatever they can get their paws on.

Where Do Raccoons Live?

As raccoons can and will live on just about anything, you find them all over Ontario.

They can make a home from fallen tree trunks, holes in trees, or burrows that have been abandoned by other animals. They usually like to live near water, but it’s not unusual to find them living in crawl spaces or attics.

Raccoons will usually switch dens every few days. However, nursing females will stay in one place until their kits are old enough to be moved. Even though they will move from den to den, raccoons do have a set territory, which can span anywhere between one and eighteen miles.

Do I Have To Worry About Racoons In Winter?

Raccoons don’t properly hibernate, so they do stay active all year round. However, you will usually see fewer raccoons over the winter. This is because some raccoons, especially those in northern areas, store up their body fat in the spring and summer so they can sleep in their dens for most of the winter. During the cold weather, they will sleep for several weeks at a time, and you might find several raccoons sharing one den.

As raccoons are less likely to want to change dens when it’s cold, then it is possible that you might find a group of them in the attic.

How To Help Get Rid Of Raccoons

Raccoons are the most frequent carriers of rabies among wild animals. This means that you don’t want a group of raccoons living in your home. There are some signs that raccoons have made their dens in or around your home, such as tracks or smudge marks on the walls, decks, or in soft ground near your pipes or gutters. You might also notice small piles of droppings near trees or on the roof.

If you think that there are raccoons in your attic, crawl space, or anywhere else in your home, you ought to call a wildlife removal service. Raccoons can be aggressive, especially if they feel cornered. Their droppings also contain parasites that are dangerous to people, so you should make sure you never touch them. You should leave getting rid of raccoons to a trained professional, for your own safety.

Can I Help Prevent Raccoons In Winter?

There are a few things that you can do to make your home less attractive to raccoons in the winter.

  • Examine the outside of your home to make sure there aren’t any openings that raccoons could use to get into your attic or crawl spaces. If you find any, get them patched up. Raccoons can get through a hole about the size of a softball.
  • Don’t let your summer or fall garden go to seed. Instead, clear it out, and throw away dead vegetation. If you compost, use a bin with a lid that can be sealed.
  • Make sure that your trash can lids are sealed properly so raccoons can’t search your garbage for food.
  • If you keep chicken, keep them in a coop which you lock at night. Secure the coop with wire mesh, not chicken wire, which raccoons can rip through.
  • Never leave pet food or water outside overnight. Raccoons are nocturnal and will happily eat any of your pet’s food if they can access it.

Remember that raccoons are dangerous wild animals that can carry pathogens that spread diseases. If you think there are raccoons in your attic or crawl spaces, you should get in contact SWAT Wildlife as soon as possible.

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