Trash Panda Facts You Need To Know

TRASH PANDAS

Trash PandasThe raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a native mammal, measuring about 3 feet long, including its 12-inch, bushy, ringed tail. Because their hind legs are longer than the front legs, they have a hunched appearance when they walk or run. Each of their front feet has five dexterous toes, allowing them to grasp and manipulate food and other items.

Raccoons prefer forest areas near a stream or water source but have adapted to various environments throughout Washington. Coon populations can get quite large in urban areas, owing to hunting and trapping restrictions, few predators, and human-supplied food.

Adult raccoons weigh 15 to 40 pounds, their weight being a result of genetics, age, available food, and habitat location. Males have weighed in at over 60 pounds. A raccoon in the wild will probably weigh less than the urbanized coon that has learned to live on handouts, pet food, and garbage-can leftovers.

As long as they are kept out of human homes, not cornered, and not treated as pets, they are not dangerous.

FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON RACCOONS

Trash Pandas

Food and Feeding Habitats

  • Raccoons will eat almost anything but are particularly fond of creatures found in water—clams, crayfish, frogs, fish, and snails.
  • They also eat insects, slugs, dead animals, birds and bird eggs, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Around humans, they often eat garbage and pet food.
  • Although not great hunters, they can catch young gophers, squirrels, mice, and rats.
  • Except during the breeding season and for females with young, raccoons are solitary. Individuals will eat together if a large amount of food is available in an area.

Den Sites and Resting Sites

  • Dens are used for shelter and raising young. They include abandoned burrows dug by other mammals, areas in or under large rock piles and brush piles, hollow logs, and holes in trees.
  • Den sites also include wood duck nest-boxes, attics, crawl spaces, chimneys, and abandoned vehicles.
  • In urban areas, raccoons normally use den sites as daytime rest sites. In wooded areas, they often rest in trees.
  • Raccoons generally move to different den or daytime rest site every few days and do not follow a predictable pattern. Only a female with young or an animal “holed up” during a cold spell will use the same den for any length of time. Several raccoons may den together during winter storms.

Reproduction and Home Range

  • Raccoons pair up only during the breeding season, and mating occurs as early as January to as late as June. The peak mating period is March to April.
  • After a 65-day gestation period, two to three kits are born.
  • The kits remain in the den until they are about seven weeks old, at which time they can walk, run, climb, and begin to occupy alternate dens.
  • At eight to ten weeks of age, the young regularly accompany their mother outside the den and forage for themselves. By 12 weeks, the kits roam on their own for several nights before returning to their mother.
  • The kits remain with their mother in her home range through winter, and in early spring seek out their own territories.
  • The size of a raccoon’s home range, as well as its nightly hunting area, varies greatly depending on the habitat and food supply. Home range diameters of 1 mile are known to occur in urban areas.

Mortality and Longevity

  • They die from encounters with vehicles, hunters, and trappers, and from disease, starvation, and predation.
  • Young babies are the main victims of starvation since they have very little fat reserves to draw from during food shortages in late winter and early spring.
  • They predators include cougars, bobcats, coyotes, and domestic dogs. Large owls and eagles will prey on the young.
  • The average lifespan of a raccoon in the wild is 2 to 3 years; captive coons have lived 13.

Viewing Raccoons; Raccoon in Attic

Raccoons can be seen throughout the year, except during extremely cold periods. Usually observed at night, they are occasionally seen during the day eating or napping in a tree or searching elsewhere for food. Coastal raccoons take advantage of low tides and are seen foraging on shellfish and other food by day.

Trails

Raccoons use trails made by other wildlife or humans next to creeks, ravines, ponds, and other water sources. They often use culverts as a safe way to cross under roads. With a marsh on one side of the road and woods on the other, a culvert becomes their chief route back and forth. Look for raccoon tracks in sand, mud, or soft soil at either end of the culvert.

In developed areas, they travel along fences, next to buildings, and near food sources.

Tracks, Scratch Marks, and Similar Signs

Look for tracks in sand, mud, or soft soil, also on deck railings, fire escapes, and other surfaces that raccoons use to gain access to structures (Fig. 2). Tracks may appear as smudge marks on the side of a house where a raccoon shimmies up and down a downspout or utility pipe.

Sharp, nonretractable claws and long digits make raccoons good climbers. Like squirrels, raccoons can rotate their hind feet 180 degrees and descend trees headfirst. (Cats’ claws don’t rotate and they have to back down trees.) Look for scratch marks on trees and other structures that raccoons climb.

Look for wear marks, body oil, and hairs on wood and other rough surfaces, particularly around the edges of den entrances. The den’s entrance hole is usually at least 4 inches high and 6 inches wide.

Droppings

Raccoon droppings are crumbly, flat-ended, and can contain a variety of food items. The length is 3 to 5 inches, but this is usually broken into segments. The diameter is about the size of the end of your little finger.

Raccoons leave droppings on logs, at the base of trees, and on roofs (raccoons defecate before climbing trees and entering structures). Raccoons create toilet areas—inside and outside structures—away from the nesting area. House cats have similar habits.

Note: Droppings may carry a parasite that can be fatal to humans. Do not handle or smell raccoon droppings and wash your hands if you touch any. (See Public Health Concerns )

Calls

Coons make several types of noises, including a purr, a chittering sound, and various growls, snarls, and snorts.

Preventing Conflicts

A raccoon’s search for food may lead it to a vegetable garden, fish pond, garbage can, or chicken coop. Its search for a den site may lead it to an attic, chimney, or crawl space. The most effective way to prevent conflicts is to modify the habitat around your home so as not to attract raccoons. Recommendations on how to do this are given below:

Don’t feed raccoons.

Feeding raccoons may create undesirable situations for you, your children, neighbors, pets, and the raccoons themselves. Raccoons that are fed by people often lose their fear of humans and may become aggressive when not fed as expected. Artificial feeding also tends to concentrate raccoons in a small area; overcrowding can spread diseases and parasites. Finally, these hungry visitors might approach a neighbor who doesn’t share your appreciation of the animals. The neighbor might choose to remove these raccoons or have them removed.

Don’t give raccoons access to garbage.

Keep your garbage can lid on tight by securing it with rope, chain, bungee cords, or weights. Better yet, buy garbage cans with clamps or other mechanisms that hold lids on. To prevent tipping, secure side handles to metal or wooden stakes were driven into the ground. Or keep your cans in tight-fitting bins, a shed, or a garage. Put garbage cans out for pickup in the morning, after they have returned to their resting areas.

Feed dogs and cats indoors and keep them in at night.

If you must feed your pets outside, do so in the late morning or at midday, and pick up food, water bowls, leftovers, and spilled food well before dark every day.

Keep pets indoors at night.

If cornered, coons may attack dogs and cats. Bite wounds from raccoons can result in fractures and disease transmission. Trapping and removal of a female raccoon are very difficult because you cannot remove the babies without trapping the mother raccoon as well.

If you have a raccoon problem, call a professional now who does animal control. Summit Environmental Solutions has expert trappers who are licensed, bonded and insured. We specialize in wildlife control and can even fix the entry hole so they cannot enter the home again. All of our work is guaranteed.

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