Raccoons are among the most recognizable of nuisance animals because of their "masked" faces and ringed tails. They're also among the most annoying, troublesome, destructive, and sometimes dangerous animals that we handle. They're very strong, very smart, and have very good manual dexterity. They're also very good fighters, especially when they're cornered or surprised. Healthy raccoons won't go out of their way to attack humans; but when they feel threatened, they're willing and well-prepared to fight.
Part of the problem with raccoons is that a lot of people seem to think that they're cute, which perhaps they are, in their own way. But that doesn't make them friendly. Adult wild raccoons are decidedly unfriendly. Even domesticated ones aren't very friendly. Pet raccoons learn to tolerate people, but their natural dispositions are very independent. The fact that they tolerate humans who keep feeding them doesn't mean that they like humans very much. Their nature is to be independent and solitary.
Raccoons are also big enough, strong enough, and skilled enough fighters that they can put a serious -- perhaps deadly -- hurting on a human. So don't even think about do-it-yourself raccoon removal. (If by chance you are thinking about it, please watch this video of Brad and Tess removing a raccoon from an attic in Atlanta. I reckon it will change your mind pretty quickly.)
That's not to say that raccoons enjoy fighting humans. Like wild critters in general, raccoons are more likely to run away than anything else if you happen to encounter one; and like wild critters in general, a cornered raccoon will fight if it has to. The main difference is that raccoons are just big and strong enough to be able to seriously hurt you, and just small and sneaky enough to get into all sorts of places where you don't expect them to be. As a result, people frequently stumble upon them while doing mundane things like taking out the trash or getting some firewood from the woodpile at night. That can lead to very bad outcomes.
Raccoons can do very serious damage when they get inside a home. They often gnaw at and tear up insulation, stored items, HVAC ductwork, and other items. They also build nests that can be quite large and present a fire hazard, and they often cause damage to the structure itself when they make holes or enlarge ones to make it easier for them to get into and out of the building.
Raccoons also present health, sanitation, and safety hazards when they get inside houses. Like wild animals in general, raccoons are hosts to parasites that can transmit diseases; and their droppings can harbor bacterial and fungal pathogens that can become airborne and make people sick. This is especially true if you have forced-air heat or central air-conditioning, and any part of the system is in the space where the raccoon is (such as the attic or crawl space).
Another danger when raccoons get into a home is that a family member may accidentally confront and startle the animal. This happens a lot when raccoons are living in a seldom-accessed storage area in an attic or crawl space, and a family member goes into the area to get something. Raccoons also nest in chimneys quite often and sometimes travel -- or fall -- into the living area of the house.
Another thing that makes raccoons dangerous is that they have one of the higher incidences of rabies of our Georgia nuisance animals. Rabies is an incurable disease that is transmitted in the saliva of infected animals, especially carnivores like raccoons. If there is any chance at all that you have been exposed, you will have to undergo prophylactic rabies treatment immediately. Once the symptoms of rabies appear in a human, it's too late to treat it. The patient will die.
In the case of raccoons, the risk of rabies is compounded by the fact that they sometimes become very passive and weak and are more likely to come out in the daytime when they are infected. To someone not familiar with the symptoms (especially children), these sick animals may appear "friendly" or "tame," prompting children and other good-natured folks to want to feed them, pet them, rescue them, or even take them into their homes.
We cannot possibly stress this enough: Leave wild raccoons alone; and especially leave wild raccoons that appear sick, tame, or friendly alone. Teach this to your children, as well. Wild animals in general should not be touched, handled, petted, or otherwise handled by non-professionals; but wild raccoons should especially be avoided.
Two things that make raccoon control especially challenging are, firstly, that they're very intelligent animals; and secondly, that they have better dexterity than most animals.
Raccoons are intelligent enough to learn how to do things like open gates and garbage pails, pry away plywood covering openings in buildings, and avoid tripping traps. They also have a rudimentary ability to use tools, such as using a stick to open the latch on a gate that they can't quite reach. Their intelligence makes raccoons more difficult to trap, remove, and seal out of a home or building than most other critters.
Raccoons also have very good dexterity in their front paws, which also have sensitive nerve endings that they use for additional sensory input. That's actually the reason why raccoons "wash" their food. The water makes those nerves more sensitive and helps them avoid eating spoiled food. It's almost like a second sense of smell.
Trapping, removing, and excluding raccoons can be a challenge because of their intelligence, dexterity, and strength. More so than most animals, raccoons will often make a special effort to get back into a home after they've been sealed out; and they have the intelligence, dexterity, and physical strength to do that unless a first-class raccoon-exclusion job was done. DIY raccoon-proofing or raccoon exclusion done by handymen rarely works out well.
Raccoons are also comfortable on the ground, on the roof, or anywhere in between; so when raccoon-proofing a house, the entire house must be inspected and any possible entry points sealed, regardless of where the raccoons were found. This may include things like installing raccoon-proof chimney caps on the chimneys, and sturdy doors on the entrances to the basement or crawl space. Raccoon exclusion truly is a top-to-bottom job that requires the skills of a professional.
Luckily, that's why we're here. Rid-A-Critter is Metro Atlanta's most well-established wildlife control company. We've done many thousands of raccoon-removal and raccoon-proofing jobs throughout all of Northern Georgia, and we've pretty much got it down to a science. We also have the personnel and equipment to handle any raccoon control job, no matter how big (or how small).
Please contact us if you need help with a raccoon problem. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, please take a look at some pictures our crew has taken of some of the thousands of raccoon jobs we've done throughout the Metro Atlanta area.
Raccoon Control Gallery
Raccoon damage at a house in Conyers
Evidence of a raccoon problem in Atlanta
Raccoon damage to a chimney cap in Atlanta
Marietta, Georgia raccoon control job
Raccoon entry point into a house in Smyrna
Family of raccoons evicted from an Atlanta home
Raccoon damage to the ducts in an Atlanta attic
Raccoon removed from a house in Atlanta
Raccoons did this damage to a house in Atlanta
Raccoon latrine in an attic in Smyrna
Raccoon hole in a soffit in Atlanta
Raccoon hole under the peak of a roof in Atlanta
Raccoon hole in the soffit of an Atlanta home
Raccoon entry point into a Fayetteville attic
Raccoon damage to a chimney in Atlanta
Stone Mountain, Georgia raccoon removal job
Raccoon damage to the soffit of a house in Duluth
Stuck raccoon rescue and removal in Atlanta
Raccoon hole in the soffit of a house in Atlanta
Raccoon damage to the soffit and siding in Atlanta
Raccoon damage to the soffit of a house in Lilburn
Raccoon damage to the soffit in Johns Creek
Guess how raccoons got into this Atlanta home
Baby raccoon removed from a house in Atlanta
Raccoon removed from a house in Peachtree City
Raccoon hole in the roof of a house in Kennesaw
Raccoon entry point into a house in Atlanta
Young raccoon removed from Marietta home
Raccoon entry through a soffit panel in Atlanta
Raccoon removed from a house in Marietta
Raccoon scat in an attic in Stone Mountain
Raccoon entry point into a house in Atlanta
For more information about raccoon control or any of our fine services, please contact us.