Signs of raccoons terrorizing your home — Janelle’s student essay

Signs of Raccoons Terrorizing Your Home

Hollow metallic crashes filled the night during nocturnal stealth raids in which the furry offenders toppled over cylindrical lunch boxes, which to man are more commonly known as garbage cans. A band of brazen raccoon kits scrabbled on the balcony door, demanding entrance. A furry masked invader infiltrated the once orderly and quiet suburban home through the cat-flap, a clever point of entry, before ensuing chaos in the neighbor’s home. Scuffling and pattering noises emanated from the shingled roof day and night. 

Such occurrences marked my mother’s experience living in a large North American city with raccoons, and not just people, for neighbors. However, not all signs of a raccoon – Procyon lotor- (Lariviere) infestation are so obvious.

For instance, more subtle signs such as the presence of the faint odor of feces or urine in one’s attic also indicate the presence of these unwanted residents. Other tell-tale signs include scratch marks on trees (“Raccoons”), 4 inch foot prints that almost resemble those of humans (“Raccoons”), and damage to the exterior of one’s home. 

These damages may be made to roof shingles, shutters, vents, or even gutters (Coleman), and are caused when raccoons try to enter a home, as houses afford the warm and dry shelter that they desire (“Raccoons”). Another lesser known indicator of a raccoon infestation is that of strange pet behavior. 

For instance, as dogs have a sense of smell about 10,000-100,000 times more accurate than that of humans (Tyson), they are able to detect raccoons with their superior olfactory senses, while their owners may still be unaware.

Raccoon in the forest

Therefore, if one’s dog is whining at a particular area in one’s home while staring at a section of the wall, or displaying unusual signs of behavior (Coleman), among other causes, it is possible that house is lodging unknown raccoons.

As alluded to in the recollection of my mother’s experience, toppled trash cans are a hallmark sign of a raccoon problem. The extent of this problem is only exasperated by the frequency of its occurrence, for according to zoologist Sam Zeveloff, over the past 80 years, the raccoon population has undergone an “astonishing” surge (Copeland), as “there are over 100 times as many raccoons in the United States and Canada now as there were 200 years ago” (“Different Types of raccoons”).


The raccoons’ sole motivation in toppling these trash cans is to access the discarded food within, however this action has the effect of proving to be a nuisance to those who have to regularly clean up the mess afterwards. Once toppled trash cans are recognized as the wake of foraging raccoons, measures can be put in place to prevent it from happening again

Such measures include securing trash cans with rope or even bungee cords (“Raccoons”), and refraining from leaving pet food outside, where it will attract the animals. However, securing trash cans can prove to be ineffective as raccoons are quite clever, as “raccoon brains have more neurons packed into their brains than other animals of the same size” (Sharma et al.) Therefore raccoons can render even the most innovative measures ineffective, as Toronto unfortunately discovered after spending $31 million on special garbage bins with gravity locks. The raccoons did not leave, and a raccoon was even caught on camera opening the high-tech trash can (Sharma et al.).


The best way to deal with a raccoon infestation is to call a professional to safely remove and relocate the animal. Prior to calling in a professional however, some methods for preventing or dealing with a raccoon home infestation include blocking up points of entry with metal mesh, and fixing up any holes in your roof that are larger than four inches (“Raccoons”). Another precautionary measure worth taking is that of trimming branches close to one’s home, for if left alone, the raccoons can use them as a pathway to access one’s roof or balcony.

These preventative measures are important, as raccoons can cause a variety of problems for their hosts; for instance, they can torment them at night with their shuffling on the roof, become unwanted residents, and create unpleasant messes by toppling trash cans. Above all, they are a nuisance. Their presence can also have serious consequences, as they can pass on rabies to beloved household pets. 

In fact, according to the CDC, raccoons accounted for 30.3% of reported rabid animal cases in 2018 (“Wild Animals”). All these undesirable outcomes however, can be prevented or lessened by taking notice of the previously outlined indications of a raccoon problem, and thereupon responding with action. Although they may be cute, raccoons can be pests that terrorize suburban neighborhoods and urban areas alike; they are less of desirable neighbors than they are unassuming domestic terrorists.

Author: Janelle Amegatse

University of Arizona

Works Cited

  • Coleman, Alicia. “ How to Spot a Raccoon Infestation and What to Do About It.” Natran, Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.
  • Copeland, Libby. “Will Raccoons Trump Rats as the Ultimate Urban Mammal?.” Slate, 30 Sept. 2016, 9:33 a.m., Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.
  • Lariviere, Serge. “Raccoon”. Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, 29 July 2020, Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.
  • “Raccoons.” Arrow Exterminators.

    %20left,roof%20or%20inside%20your%20walls. Accessessed 17 Oct. 2020.
  • Sharma, Uma, and Shir Polan. “Toronto spent $31 million to fend off a raccoon invasion. Here’s why cities can’t get rid of them.” Business Insider, 6 May 2019, 2:00 p.m., Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.
  • Tyson, Peter. “Dogs’ Dazzling Sense of Smell.” PBS, 3 Oct. 2012, Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.
  • “What Are the Different Types of Raccoons?” Pest Control Products, Accessed 18 Oct. 2020.
  • “Wild Animals.” CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 April 2020,

    %20animals%20accounted%20for%2092.7,%2C%20and%20foxes%20(7.2%25). Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.

Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.