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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

BGC Cranbrook will renovate a facility to relocate 24 existing spaces and add 24 new spaces with support from the Trust. Photo courtesy Columbia Basin Trust.
Grant funding to help create new childcare spaces in Cranbrook

Columbia Basin Trust providing $10,000 to BGC Cranbrook to help renovate new facility

Earlier this spring, the City of Cranbrook started positioning components of the Stormceptor system to carry storm runoff to Elizabeth Lake from the Innes Avenue neighbourhood. Photo submitted
Stormceptor will bring clean run-off to Elizabeth Lake

The City of Cranbrook is installing new infrastructure to handle the Innes Avenue neighbourhood, but go easy on Elizabeth lake

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read