Raccoons may look cute but if they get inside your home to hunker down and get cozy for the winter, it can be a serious problem. Not only do raccoons cause pretty significant property damage during their break-in and nesting efforts, but they also can carry and transmit illnesses that can make the people and pets in your family very sick. Why Are Raccoons in the Attic Dangerous? Whether they take up residence in the attic, basement, crawl space or walls, they aren’t healthy or safe furry roommates. Aside from the property damage they cause (and they are strong critters), they can carry and transmit some scary viruses and bacteria to you and your pets.
- Rabies – Raccoons are one of the more susceptible species of wildlife when it comes to rabies. Rabies in people and our furry family, if left untreated, can be a fatal viral illness.
- Salmonella – If you think of raw chicken when you hear “salmonella” you’re not alone. However, raccoons are carriers for salmonella bacteria, which can lay dormant for long periods and cause illness long after the raccoon roommates are gone.
- Raccoon Roundworm – This parasite is found in raccoon feces and when that feces dries out, it can become air-borne and infect you by breathing it in. If left untreated, this infection is fatal.
- Leptospirosis – Leptospirosis bacteria is found in raccoon urine. If your skin comes into contact with it, it can easily be transferred to the mouth or other infection routes. This type of bacteria causes serious infection, including meningitis.
- Giardiasis – Giardiasis bacteria is well-known for causing severe and potentially life-threatening diarrhea and dehydration. Infected raccoons shed this bacteria in their feces, which can contaminate surfaces or water (and you or your pets).
How Do Raccoons Get In? Raccoons are clever and much stronger than you might realize. Here are just a few common ways raccoons make their way into your home.
- Chimney – Your chimney is very similar to a hollowed-out tree trunk in a raccoon’s eyes. Hollowed-out trees and stumps are a favorite nesting place for mama raccoons and their babies.
- Roof Vents – Roof vents allow for airflow to your attic. Raccoons feel the warm air from the vents and simply rip off vent covers and invite themselves in.
- Along Gutters – The roofing along gutters sustains more wear and tear than other areas of your roof. The water flow and the freezing and thawing cause these parts of the roof to rot more easily. Raccoons take advantage of this rot as it weakens the wood, allowing them to rip it open and climb on in.
- Pipe Vents – Any kind of piping or venting that exits your home through the roof typically has a bit of extra space in the hole around it. This extra space is typically covered with rubber or waterproof matting. Unfortunately, the matting might block water, but it doesn’t stop raccoons.
Raccoons are cute critters – from a distance. It’s extremely important to remember that raccoons are still wild animals and wild animals should be handled by professionals to avoid injury or illness for people and pets. If you have a raccoon roommate or a brood of them, call Pee Dee Wildlife for proper handling, relocation and inspection for possible infectious agents.