How Raccoon Mating in Denver, CO Affects You (and Ways to Protect Against Raccoon Intrusions into Your Attic)
Spring has not arrive yet, but the wildlife around you are preparing. Raccoon mating season can begin as early as January or February each year and extends through June. Mature female raccoons typically breed and girth birth during the same time each year – peaking February-April. Younger, yearling raccoons are less consistent and may mate at varying points throughout the mating season. Younger females also tend to give birth later in the season. If a female raccoon does not become pregnant during the standard mating season, she may mate again 4 months later and give birth in late summer or fall.
Mating season often brings increased animal activity (sightings, smells, etc). Male raccoons may travel outside of their normal territory during mating season and are often more aggressive with other males – leading to fights. A male raccoon may mate with several females within his home range and typically does not “stick around” for pregnancy or birth.
After mating has occurred and the female raccoon becomes pregnant, she will start looking for an isolated area to give birth and raise her young. Protected decks, uncapped chimney, and attic spaces are prime real estate in urban areas. Since raccoons are very agile climbers, they can easily crawl up/down brick chimney stacks and nest on top the flue or inside the firebox. They will also manipulate loose or rotten boards to create access points into a structure.
Once the litter has been born, it may take 8-9 weeks before the raccoon cubs become mobile. The family raccoon will care for the cubs during this time. Periodically the female raccoon will go out to forage for food and may do so during daylight hours. You may hear suckling or crying if there are newborn raccoon cubs in your attic space or chimney. Older, mobile raccoon cubs are generally louder and may cause more damage as they play and “fight” with their siblings. Eventually raccoon cubs will start foraging for food, but they typically stay with their mothers for the first year of life.
It is important to make sure your home is protected before raccoons take up residence. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Keep pet food and water inside from dusk-dawn
- Keep trash receptacles securely latched/locked or in the garage until trash day
- Keep pet doors locked from dusk-dawn
- Check that your deck does not allow animal access. Installing wire mesh or skirting that animals cannot dig around provides the best protection.
- Double check that your chimney is securely capped
- Have your roof inspected for vulnerable soffit areas or vents that a raccoon could use to access your attic space
- Keep tree branches trimmed to limit easy roof access
- Limit/avoid installing coy ponds. If you do have an existing pond, installing netting can protect against raccoons feeding on the fish.
If you suspect that a raccoon has already taken up residence, this is still hope. A wildlife professional can assist with removal of the raccoon or raccoon family. It is ideal to remove the raccoons before the raccoon cubs become fully mobile to prevent additional damage from occurring.
Questions to ask your wildlife professional:
- Will the raccoon removal take place in one visit or over the course of several days?
- Can you install a chimney cap after the raccoons are removed?
- Do you offer any damage repair or entry point repair?
- Do you offer attic restoration to remove raccoon feces or nesting material?
- Do you offer disinfecting services?
- If there is electrical damage, can you company have it repaired?