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

From left to right: Vicki Barta, Bruce Ormond, Greg Heide, Gord McInnis, and Charles Harman rehearse via zoom for the upcoming radio play, “Visitor from Planet Zoltan”. (Submitted photo)
Radio plays prove successful for Ladysmith Little Theatre, four more in production

Ladysmith Little Theatre pivoted to producing radio plays during the pandemic

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A vehicle is totalled after a driver crashed into the side of a tow truck outside Central Island Towing. (Cole Schisler photo)
Car totalled after colliding with the back of a tow truck in Ladysmith

Nobody was injured, but repairs on the tow truck are expected to cost thousands of dollars

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo hospital experiencing another COVID-19 outbreak

Three patients tested positive for the virus in NRGH’s high-intensity rehab unit

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

Most Read