The Masked Bandit: The Raccoon
Raccoons (Procyon lotor), are located throughout the State of Colorado, reportedly below 10,000 feet in altitude (according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture). They are nocturnal animals foraging mostly at night. They are technically carnivores, but will also consume a wide variety of foods that are available during different times of the year. Reportedly, they will only den 1,200 feet from a permanent water source, making streams, rivers and lakes their primary habitat. In the forest they den in hollows of trees, along a fallen log or in rocky crevices. In urban areas, they will readily live right under decks, sewer systems, sheds and other man made structures. Being extremely adaptable, agile and creative creatures, they have learned to survive quite well in urban settings right alongside humans. They will often be found living in seldom-used fireplace chimneys, attics and other locations especially during the winter months or months when they are rearing their young (called cubs, pups or kits). They are not nest makers and do not add nesting material to their den sites. They are very attracted to the warmth of homes that offer protection from the elements.
Being a relative of the bear family, they are particularly strong and have powerful claws. They use their hands like primates and humans. Raccoons can literally rip shingles off a roof to get inside! They are also one of the smartest animals around being crafty and sometimes very difficult to catch. They have adapted quite well to urban life, in fact the numbers of raccoon that are able to live in the cities greatly outweighs that of rural populations.
They mate between December and June and only one time per year. The average number of young seems to be between 3 – 5, but they sometimes have as many as 6 or 7 in each litter. Raccoon have a gestation period of 63 days and the young are born in April and May (but this may vary by elevation and environmental conditions found in the great diversity of Colorado). Diseases within the raccoon populations include Distemper and Rabies as well as Raccoon Roundworm. Signs of Distemper include staggering while walking and the appearance of being drunk, crusty eyes with nasal and ocular discharge, apparently fearless behavior and being seen during the daytime hours. Rabies can also be contracted by the Raccoon, but is it not as common in the species.
Like it or not, raccoons are our neighbors but there are some things that you can do to prevent coming in contact with them:
1. Have a stainless steel chimney cap placed on your chimney flues (all of them) and remember to check the integrity of your cap at least yearly.
2. Use garbage cans with tight fitting lids and locking devices (bungee cords work sometimes).
3. Trim tree branches away from homes at least 6 feet (they can climb right up downspouts, but lets not make it any easier on them!).
4. Do not place bread and other food on the ground outside that is left overnight.
5. If all else fails, call us for help! ***If you have an animal infesting your structure, we recommend calling us before damage becomes significant!