Baby raccoon removed from attic

Do You Need Raccoon Removal? Find Out With Our Quick 10 Point Checklist

How do you know if you need raccoon removal unless you see or hear the signs? It’s easy with our 10 point check list which will definitely tell you whether raccoons are living in your attic and whether raccoon removal is definitely in order.

It’s important to know that every year between the months of January and May we get an increase in calls from home owners with complaints about loud noises coming from their attic. They’re never really sure what kind of animals are making those noises, but we know, that 99% of the time it’s going to be raccoons and they’re going to need to be removed promptly or else further attic damage will be the result.

But loud thumping noises aren’t always heard by home owners so how does one actually know if they have a raccoon problem before it’s too late? It’s easy. Just read our detailed checklist below for the top 10 signs that you are harbouring raccoons and need raccoon removal services. If you discover you do, don’t hesitate to call your local wildlife removal company because as each day passes, the extent of the damage they cause will only get worse, and the cost you’ll have to pay to repair and restore your attic will only increase. This is a simple fact that cannot be ignored.

So let’s get into our 10 point checklist to find out if you need raccoon removal. The first one that’s usually never suspected is:

#1. Irregular snow patterns or patches on your roof

Melted snow on roof due to wildlife damageDuring snowy days if you look at your roof and see parts of it with irregular snow patterns, it’s probably because there’s an air circulation issue in your attic. If you see your roof in this state, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have raccoons or other forms of wildlife living there but it’s definitely a reason to investigate further.

In a healthy attic, the air circulation is in check and so the snow on your roof will be spread evenly across it. It will pile up uniformly and melt the same way. If during a period of snowfall, you see snow melting on certain areas of your roof, heat is escaping from the inside of your home. This is due to either poor air circulation issues and/or damage insulation.

The acceptable spots to see melted snow are around chimneys and air vents, but any other bare patches on your roof are a sign there’s an attic issue and that a raccoon or squirrel’s existence in your attic could be the cause of these bare spots. Also seeing your roof in this state doesn’t always mean wildlife are currently living in your attic, but instead could mean you have been harbouring wildlife at some time and they’ve left your attic insulation in shambles or there’s a large hole in your roof somewhere.

#2. Strange electrical issues

Example of wires chewed in atticAs most homeowners eventually find out, raccoons like to get into everything, and that also applies to areas of your attic. If they end up getting in you can expect a lot more damage has occurred than what you can see from the outside (we’ll cover this later).

Once in your attic, you can expect to eventually find a slew of problems but one major problem that really stands out to home owners are electrical issues. Like squirrels and mice, raccoons also like to chew on wires.

Because adolescent raccoons are more curious than their parents, and are teething, they tend to chew on anything that feels good on their aching gums.

If the wires in your attic get chewed or completely destroyed, you’ll start seeing the problem in your home with occasional flickering lights, electrical outlets may stop working and you may even experience a fire.

#3. Holes on your roof

Raccoon entry hole on rooflineOn an average day, the average home owner walks in and out of their home without much regard for the state of their roof – this is normal. Even after extreme weather conditions most home owners don’t pay too much mind to how their roof could have been affected.

The reason is mainly because home owners usually get tipped off to problems in their roof or attic once big and obvious problems set in – it’s only normal – but it is a good idea to inspect your roof from time to time to make sure there are no existing holes, wildlife entry points or any damage that could have occurred for any given number of reasons.

Holes left unchecked even if caused by weather, are perfect entry points for raccoons and squirrels and if they happen to find it, and need a warm place to raise their babies, you can bet they’ll utilize it to gain entry into your attic.

If you do see any holes on your roof or around the roof line – big or small – you’ll want to look into them further. A hole on your roof can be caused by two things: 1. weather damage, or 2. a raccoon or squirrel entry.

Since houses are made to withstand a lot of harsh weather it’s more probable that the hole was created by some form of wildlife but again the point of the matter is, leaving your roof unchecked for such damage is basically inviting wildlife into your home.

#4. Damaged soffit or fascia

Soffit destroyed by raccoonIf your home’s soffit or fascia is damaged you can safely assume you’re harbouring raccoons or other forms of wildlife in your attic. There’s almost no other reason for this kind of damage (accept for occasional ice damage) and along with raccoon removal services being obviously needed, so does attic and roof repairs.

It’s an unfortunate situation, and makes a home look shabby, but it’s not your fault. Raccoons are actually quite strong find it easy to rip open a soffit board or chew in around your fascia in an attempt to get in.

As for soffits, sometimes they only use that area as their entry point, and at other times they build their nest right upon it. Eventually their nest area becomes too heavy that it pushes the soffit right through.

Soffit damage is quite easy to find especially of you walk around your home a few times and look up. Any anomaly you suspect should be looked at further and considered a sign of wildlife damage even if there’s only a small crack or potential entry point.

Raccoons and squirrels don’t need large holes to get into a home so a small break or crack in the soffit or fascia that seems insignificant should never be overlooked.

Remember that small holes or cracks could be the way a family of raccoons has been getting into your attic for months on end.

#5. Heating and air condition anomalies

Over time, raccoons and other forms of wildlife inevitably mess up the balance of the insulation in your attic which will no doubt result in major heat losses in the winter, cool air losses in the summer.

If your attic insulation has been destroyed or severely devalued, the air circulation in your attic is going to become out of wack. For the first few months, and sometimes years, home owners don’t quite understand why their heating and air conditioning bills aren’t maintaining an average cost. Usually they just chalk it up to over-user, someone fiddling with the temperature controls or even blame the energy companies for over-charging.

One of the biggest problems we encounter when removing raccoons and preventing them from re-entering is the damage that’s been done to the insulation – it almost always happens especially if it’s not removed right away. Damaged insulation counts for at least 95% of heating and air-conditioning problems so if you’re finding your home is not maintaining the temperature that your temperature control is claiming, we advise you to take a look in your attic for signs of wildlife. If you do see evidence of wildlife living there, make sure to call your local pest control company promptly.

#6. Seeing urine and fecal stains

Raccoons don’t always go outside to relieve themselves. They don’t leave their droppings or urinate directly where they’re nesting in their den site, but they will do so in other areas of your attic. 80% of all raccoon droppings contain eggs for roundworm and the scientific term for it is Baylisascaris procyonis and is quite dangerous if contracted by a human.

Raccoon feces on attic insulationIf they’ve gone long enough living in your attic without being noticed, eventually you’ll start seeing stains either directly in your attic or even coming through your ceilings.

As years pass, it’s common for home owners to occasionally see stains on their ceilings, and presume it’s only a moisture stain. That could be the case, but it’s more likely to be a raccoon or other form of wildlife’s urine or droppings causing the issue.

For one there’s technically no reason for your attic to have so much moisture as to cause ceiling leaks. That being the case there’s a strong indication that there’s a hole on your roof somewhere and that this damage is allowing water and moisture to continually get in.

Ask yourself: what caused that hole? Could it be a raccoon or a squirrel? It probably was.

On the other hand, if the raccoon entry point wasn’t directly on the roof but your ceiling is still leaking, then it’s most likely due to a build up of urine and fecal matter that’s seeped it’s way through. Just imagine what months and years of unwanted buildup can do.

We had a customer once whom heard noises in his attic for at least 3 years. They didn’t quite understand that the animals were actually living there but thought they were just coming and going as they please. They also had no idea that they being able to come and go as they please meant there was a hole somewhere on their roof. There was, and the build up of feces was a completely unsightly thing to see.

The bottom line when it comes to stains on your ceiling is that something has caused it and a good portion of the time it’s due to a raccoon or squirrel leaving their urine and fecal buildup behind. Don’t ignore this sign. Go look in your attic, but be very careful if you actually do see a raccoon and it’s babies living there. Call the experts.

#7. Moisture stains on your ceiling

Raccoon entry hole on roofAs mentioned in the previous paragraph, if a raccoon has chewed out a hole on certain parts of your roof, it’s inevitable that your attic is going to be exposed to the elements.

For a time, you can expect the insulation in your attic to absorb much of the moisture and if you’re lucky the passing of time will allow it to evaporate. Eventually the levee breaks though, and the moisture gets too much while the water stains start coming through your ceiling.

Moisture stained ceilings happen all the time. If you live in a home long enough you almost expect to see one or two stains over the years and for the most part home owners ignore them – some even paint over them not realizing that there’s a more serious underlying problem in their attic that they have to look into. No one wants an attic issue. No one wants to call the roofer and see whether there’s an important issue to fix. We understand this because it is a hassle, but it’s not something that can be ignored for a long time.

Even worse there have been incidences where attics get completely flooded out during prolonged inclement whether storms or non-stop raining. A flooded attic is probably one of the worse forms of damage a home owner can go through. A flooded attic can destroy virtually everything in your attic like what you’ve stored there, your attic insulation, your ceiling drywall tiles and can floods can substantially degrade the entire structure of your attic in general.

The worse case scenario is the flood coming into your home. In cases like this you can expect the build up of water to make a grand entrance (i.e. for instance water violently break through the attic and into your home in the middle of the night) or start showing itself bit by bit as a slow leak into your kitchen or living room.

One raccoon sized hole on your roof that’s gone unchecked for a period of time can end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs.

#8. Damage to parts of your property, and backyard

Chewed through garbage bins, ripped open garbage bags, holes on your roof, holes around or under your deck. These are just a few signs raccoons are living too close to your home and probably living in your attic.

Raccoons and squirrels tend to look for food in places where it’s easily found so when it comes to waking up to garbage being scattered all over your backyard or driveway, that’s just them looking for food, and then bringing it back to their den site which is usually in a near by attic.

They also have the strength to pull off down spouts, push aside eavestroughs, chew out holes in shingles and siding, and as previously mentioned they destroy air vents, soffits and fascias.

They like to eat bird food so you can encounter damage bird feeders, a dug up garden, eat your vegetables, and pull up newly laid sod. All of this damage combined with some other points mentioned earlier are definite causes for concern, and a call to a wildlife removal company is definitely in order.

#9. Raccoon tracks in the winter time

The one good thing about the winter season is that you can spot raccoon and squirrel tracks quite easily. If a raccoon is going in and out of your attic you’re eventually going to notice the foot prints (but you also need to be on the lookout for them) to and from the side of your home and even on your roof.

Raccoons start mating in and around January and give birth to their kits (raccoon babies) typically around mid-March through May. Although there’s probably not going to be enough snow in April and May to spot footprints you’ll see them frequently during their mating season as they’re out and about looking for food and supplies for their den site just in time for when their babies are going to be born.

If you see constant raccoon or squirrel tracks around your home it’s not a 100% chance that you’re harbouring wildlife but combined with seeing the other signs mentioned here, it’s a strong indicator you have a raccoon problem and need to call the experts pronto!

#10. Strong smells and odours

One of the most intrusive and predominant signs you need raccoon removal is the terrible odours that can make it’s way into your living area. These smells and odours usually come from the build up of moisture, fecal matter and urine residue left behind by raccoons and squirrels but can also include the remains of other dead animals, debris brought in from the outside and decaying food.

These smells are more easily noticed if you go directly into your attic, but eventually they’ll make their way into common areas especially if they’re left there for months or years at a time without anything being done about it.

Unlike dogs, raccoons don’t actually go outside to relieve themselves and they don’t clean up after themselves either. They don’t leave their droppings or urinate directly inside their nest, but still do their job in the attic which quickly builds if left unchecked.

As a home owner with a family it’s important to be aware that raccoon fecal matter and urine does carry potentially very harmful bacteria. It can carry both round-worm and Hantavirus of which can both be transmitted to humans and pets. Don’t become too alarmed at this because it is rare that humans or pets contract diseases or bacteria from wildlife but it has happened. The best advice is to stay away of any raccoon fecal matter or urine you discover and call the professionals right away. Most pest control companies provide attic repairs services where they remove all debris left behind by wildlife, and restore your attic back to it’s original state. Make sure the company you call actually does offer this service because you do not want to be left alone to clean up after a raccoon by yourself. It’s not safe and very unsanitary.

Those are the ten common signs you have a raccoon problem but we have one more important piece of advice to give you:

Can I remove the raccoon myself if I see it?

The straight answer is a resounding no! If you do end up encountering a raccoon in your attic while you’re doing your own inspection, do not ever try to remove it alone, period.

It’s dangerous. For example, in 2016 alone, there were over 171 rabid raccoons confirmed which is a substantial increase over the last 13 years.

Regional announcements concerning the epidemic have been broadcasted across Southern Ontario, especially in areas like Hamilton, Ancaster, Burlington and as close as Brant County. In 2016 alone there were over 170 confirmed cases of raccoons being infected with rabies. See the statistics here, and the map below.

Map raccoons rabies Ontario 2016

The long story short on the subject as to whether you should try to remove a raccoon on your own, is that it’s quite dangerous, especially in Southern Ontario and it will be until the rabies issues has been thoroughly resolved.

Go through our checklist, find out if you have the signs and over all we ask that you stay safe.

Note that much of the information presented here, can also apply to squirrels with some differences including the rabies pandemic. Currently there are not any announcements or community warnings regarding squirrels.

If you’d like to find out more information about our other wildlife removal services, you can click the link below.

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