The raccoon is an intelligent, mid-sized carnivore that has learned to thrive among humans. We think they have bad habits because they have learned to take advantage of OUR bad habits! There is plenty of misinformation about raccoons. Test your own knowledge!

1. Once a raccoon moves in, she will never leave. Fact or myth?
Myth!
Raccoons only establish a permanent den site for about six to eight weeks in the spring when a mother is raising babies. When the babies are old enough to travel, the mother will leave with them so the babies can begin to learn her territory.

Compost raccoons (taken just before the photographer tipped the bin over to let them out). Photo by Patrick Donohew

2. Raccoons are the major carrier of rabies in California. Fact or myth?
Myth!
We are fortunate in California that rabies is very rare. Only 228 wild animals tested positive for rabies in California in 2015! Any mammal can catch rabies, but in California, skunks and bats are the two primary rabies-vector species. However, even in those species, rabies is very rare.

3. Raccoons chew their way into attics and crawl spaces. Fact or myth?
Myth! Raccoons rarely cause gnawing or chewing damage. Their teeth aren’t designed for it! Rats and squirrels can gnaw into wooden structures. Sooner or later, other animals (like raccoons) will take advantage of the openings they make.

4. The country offers a better habitat for raccoons than a city or suburb. Fact or myth?
Myth! A country raccoon may need to range over 15 miles to find enough food. A city raccoon may find abundant food and shelter within 1/4 mile. Cities and suburbs offer many hazards, but food and shelter are much easier to find near human habitation.

5. Raccoons eat garbage. Fact or myth?
Myth!
Raccoons may tip over garbage and compost cans given the opportunity, but they don’t eat rotten or spoiled food. They eat our leftovers… good edible food we have discarded or left out for them!

6. Trapping and relocating a nuisance raccoon will solve the problem humanely. Fact or myth?
Myth!
Relocating any wild animal is illegal because it spreads diseases to other  populations, moves the problem to someone else, and usually causes the death of the animal (how would you fare if someone suddenly relocated you to the upper Sierras or a dangerous part of an unfamiliar big city?) Remember, even if you remove the animal that is causing conflict, If the source of the problem (a den site or a food source) remains, another animal will just take its place. Call WildCare’s WildCare Solutions service at 415-456-7283 if you have concerns about wildlife on your property. Once all animals have vacated, it is safe to seal up den sites under decks, in crawlspaces and elsewhere on your property, but it must be done properly! Our experts can help!