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Raccoon Facts

Raccoons are a distinctively marked, stocky animal. They have a prominent black mask over their eyes and a heavily furred, ringed tail. Body fur color is a salt and pepper gray and black. Adults are about two to three feet in length, and weigh from 12 to 30 pounds. There are occasional large specimens weighing from 36-38 pounds.

Raccoons typically setup their dens in hollow trees, ground burrows, rock crevices, and brush patches. In cities, raccoons you’ll find raccoons living in storm sewers and other subterranean places.

In cities, they live in storm sewers and other subterranean places.


Raccoons are nocturnal, although they are sometimes active during the daytime, especially on cloudy days and in the spring. They usually stay in their dens during the winter, but will come out during warm periods.

Raccoons fear nothing and will live close to people. In rural areas, raccoons will stay in barns and other outbuildings.

Raccoons are very good climbers and are often seen high in the branches of a tree on a moonlit night.

Beware of a raccoon's temper. They have a nasty disposition when cornered or caged, so do not provoke them.


Often, the only noticeable sign left by a raccoon is the disturbance they have created. Garbage cans tipped over and garbage strewn about, sweet corn patches stripped of ripe corn, and poultry kills with dead birds partially eaten near the spot, are some common signs left by nuisance raccoons.

Raccoon Prints


Raccoon tracks are very distinctive. They resemble the hand and foot prints of humans. Look for tracks in muddy areas or along travel ways the raccoon is using. 

Home and Garden Damage

Raccoons often cause problems in residential areas when house chimneys replace the tree cavities they normally live in. This is a problem because the raccoons can get stuck and when a fire is lit, or a furnace is running, carbon monoxide fumes can back up and suffocate the occupants of the building.

In domestic gardens, raccoons damage far more than they eat. They ransack corn stalks, pull back the husks and eat the ears. Raccoons will break holes in watermelons and scoop out the insides.

Harm to Livestock

When raccoons raid poultry pens, they leave telltale signs that identify them as the perpetrator of the damage. Heads of the birds are usually bitten off and left some distance away from the body. Several birds may be injured or killed by raccoons reaching through the cage wires and attempting to pull them back through the mesh. Eggs may be removed completely from the nest or they may be eaten on the spot.

Raccoon Trapping Tips

You can set live animal traps for raccoons along their pathways, and near their living areas.

In situations where raccoons are causing problems with domestic fowls such as chickens, it is best to locate cage traps directly along the side of the building or pen the raccoon is raiding.

In barns, conceal cage traps directly among bales, and other agricultural stock.

To capture raccoons living in chimneys, it is best to devise some way of attaching the cage trap to the top of the chimney. Then, go inside and drive the raccoon up and into the trap. If attached to the chimney, make sure the trap is stabilized, level, and secure for the trap to work properly.

With the exception of chimney top sets and trail sets, all cage traps must be baited with a good, visible, enticing bait. The odor of the bait is important. The use of a good prepared bait or lure with a strong, sweet smell is recommended.

When caught by surprise in a live animal traps, a raccoon’s fight-or-flight instincts can kick in. The might jump and thrash about in search of an escape. Be sure to anchor all raccoon traps securely.

Good baits for raccoons are fish, sardines, herring, crayfish, frogs, or something sweet like honey. Some cage trappers have good luck using sweet rolls for bait. Eggs are a good visual attractant. A piece of bread with peanut butter and honey also works well as a bait. There are commercial baits available that work well, particularly if used in combination with some other visual type of a bait.

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