It’s birthing season for raccoons, and homeowners may want to make sure their attics are well-sealed. (News Bulletin file)

It’s birthing season for raccoons, and homeowners may want to make sure their attics are well-sealed. (News Bulletin file)

B.C. beware: bandit babies may be moving in

It’s racoon birthing season and homeowners should know what to expect

It’s raccoon birthing season and B.C. homeowners should be mindful the animals may try to seek refuge where they shouldn’t.

Lorinne Anderson, who runs Wildaid, a Vancouver Island wildlife rescue operation, said raccoons are known to breed between January and March, with a majority of babies born between March and May.

Damage to insulation is among the problems raccoons are known to cause.

“Nine times out of 10, what they do is they actually follow rats in,” said Anderson. “They will get rid of the rats, because rats are a threat to their babies. They will take an opening that a rat’s been using, enlarge that and then use that to access a crawl space or a shed or an abandoned vehicle, parked boat or whatever.”

According to Anderson, raccoons can use space as a “nursery den” for a finite period of time and almost always vacate the area by July. People may not even know raccoons have taken up residence.

“When the babies are little, they make little chirping noises, so people think they have a bird nest up there,” said Anderson. “It’s not until they’re older that you actually hear normal raccoon noises … we call it a ‘trill.’ They’ll also make almost like a guinea pig sound: ‘Neet!’ If the babies feel like they’re lost or separated, they’ll make that sort of a noise.”

Mothers can move babies and often, they will “park them somewhere” halfway between old and new locations. People may mistake the young ones as abandoned, but the mother often returns for the baby the following night, said Anderson.

She hesitates to refer to them as problematic, however.

“I’m sure some people view it as a problem,” said Anderson. “To me, they are not a problem at all. After raptors, they’re our No. 1 predator against rats. They’re not dangerous. They don’t kill cats … they’re one of the few animals that does much better in an urban environment than in a ‘forest environment.’ They are very prolific, but they’re prolific based on food source.”

Ken Gunderson, owner of Island Wildlife and Pest Control, recommends against leaving out food that attracts raccoons.

“The biggest thing is not feeding birds, not feeding other wildlife. A lot of people in the city here definitely do that,” said Gunderson. “The next biggest one is just making sure your roof is in good condition. In almost all cases we see, they’re accessing the attic through a weak soffit vent somewhere. It’s just a matter of getting up there and making sure everything’s sealed on the exterior.”

Both experts warn health concerns could arise from inhalation of particles from excrement.

“In most cases there’s not going to be any health concerns if you’re just living in the house,” said Gunderson. “If you’re actually going up in the attic and you’re breathing in the dust from the insulation and the droppings, they’re definitely health concerns. Ring worm is one of them. Leptospirosis (causing organ damage, meningitis and even death) is another one. All that stuff is very rare unless you’re doing a big cleanup and there’s a very large amount of droppings in a small area.”

Anderson said there are misconceptions about raccoons. People generally worry about three things in relation to raccoons, she said.

“They’re worried that the raccoon is going to attack them, or their child, or their pet … do all sorts of damage and then there’s the ones that just don’t think they belong in the city and they need to be moved back to the wilderness,” Anderson said. “Sadly, all of those things are false. The only time you’re going to have a problem with a raccoon is if you corner it. And frankly, I don’t care what you are, if anything corners me in an alley, I’m coming with teeth and claws.”

For more information on what to do if you suspect you have raccoons, click here.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Dog thought to have been killed by raccoons found alive

READ ALSO: Blonde raccoon remains elusive on Newcastle Island



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

NanaimoWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Winter driving conditions returned to the Coquihalla Highway on April 10. (ICBC image)
Coquihalla motorists warned of fresh snow

Five to 10 cm of snow is expected today for the mountain highway.

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

School District 83 trustees are leaning towards an option in the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that favours making Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus and Jackson campus (pictured) both Grade 9-12 schools. (Google maps image)
Letter: Two high school option for Salmon Arm will create ‘have, have not’ situation

Writer concerned with E5 option, says transparent talk about implications needed

Left, Elena Bruns (2015 Rapattack Junior recruit/current Rapattack staff) and Leah Nash (2019 Rapattack Junior recruit/current Rapattack staff) in a helicopter on the Eagle Bluff Fire, August 2019. (Kamloops Fire Centre photo)
Salmon Arm students stick with wildfire fighting after junior Rapattack program

Junior Fire Crew program partners with Salmon Arm Secondary, develops students’ love for job

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Penticton Christian School. (Facebook)
COVID-19 exposure at South Okanagan independent school

The exposures are the latest in a quickly growing list in the Interior

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Vernon Secondary School. (Google Maps)
Case of COVID-19 at North Okanagan high school

VSS exposure announced late Friday, April 9

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Bart and Tracey Larson enjoying a Begbie Cream Ale. The couple have been together for 40 years. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
The art of really good beer: Revelstoke brewery celebrates 25 years

Mt. Begbie Brewery owners Bart and Tracey Larson reflect on their company’s history

The Royal’s 1951 visit to Revelstoke. (Photo by Revelstoke Museum and Archives #17)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip visited Revelstoke – twice

The prince died April 9 at the age of 99

Most Read