Raccoon Intrusion - puzzling

Old 03-12-18, 09:54 PM
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Raccoon Intrusion - puzzling

I have a property in South Florida that I am doing some renovations so I had part of the ceiling removed in order to run some electrical as well as some framing repairs.

Last Friday evening as I was getting ready to leave I noticed some strange noises from above. I looked up the ceiling and noticed some movement in the area where I placed the red arrow.

I waited a little and eventually I saw a raccoon head poked through.

I whistled a little to get his/her attention so I can take some pictures, and for a split second I saw two heads then they disappeared.

I called a pest control company the next day (Saturday) and they said they can send someone that afternoon.

After the technician arrived I showed him these pictures and took a walk on the outside of the house. He didn't see any obvious signs of where they may be entering or exiting. I asked if he would inspect the attic as I have heard stories about raccoon babies and the mess they make. He said raccoon in attic is "VERY DANGEROUS" and to stay away from the attic. Due to his not being able to communicate with him (he speaks very little English) I had to speak to his manager on the phone. The manager said he would set two traps (since I saw two raccoons) and it will be $250 first trap and $450 for both traps. The manager told me to not touch the traps with my hands as the human hands will cause the raccoons not to take the bait.

The technician proceed to assemble the traps - it looks like he just bought the traps at a home center. He took the boxes into my house and began the assembly while reading the instructions and cursing that the traps are defective...and he was assembling them with his bare hands. When I mentioned to him the manager told me not to touch it, he didn't understand he doesn't speak English. Oh well.

So two traps were set inside the house right below the open ceiling. The tech said the raccoons will smell the bait (seems to be two cans of cat food) and come down from the ceiling into the cage. I asked would both raccoons come down and get caught in two traps? He said yes.

So they told me to go check every day.

Sunday morning. No raccoons. The bait is still there undisturbed.

I have two attic hatches, so I took a ladder and went up to the attic with a flashlight and did a 360. I didn't see any raccoons. I didn't see any droppings or smell anything. Now I couldn't see every corner because there are sections at the end of the roof overhangs that are very tight, and there are sections that were obscured by AC ducts etc...but I was making noises, whistling, knocking. I was also listening quietly. I also didn't detect any odor which may suggest animal occupation. No raccoon on Sunday morning.

Monday morning. Went up to the attic again, and looked around. Nothing.

Are the raccoons gone?

I then began to look for entry/exit points. All the way around, inside, outside. Eventually I went up to the roof and found a hole. There is an area I have a rooted roof deck and there is a hole there. I am not worried about the roof as I am going to completely reroof within 2 months once I finish all the framing repairs below. But the wood has rotted through and seemingly have been enlarged by the raccoon to a hole about 7" in diameter. So I think this is where they are coming in.

I looked in the attic and no sign of raccoons. I didn't hear and smell anything since Friday evening.

The traps they set inside the house below where they are spotted didn't catch anything for 2 days...may be they didn't catch anything because the tech hands were all over the traps?

Are they gone?

My questions:

(1) Is there a way for certain to find out whether there are still raccoons in my attic?
(2) What is the chance that when I saw them on Friday evening was the first time they entered the place and saw me below looking at them and decided to not nest there?
(3) Should I close up the hole? Or should I leave it open so they can enter/exit?
Old 03-12-18, 10:27 PM
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Close the hole in the roof.
They'll climb down from the attic inside..... and maybe catch a snack..... or maybe the snack will catch them.
Old 03-13-18, 04:30 AM
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I guess there's more than one approach here and mine's a little different. You don't show the area around the roof with the hole but I'd start there. Figure out how the raccoons got on the roof and start there. (Perhaps branches overhang.) Do what you can to stop the animals from getting to the roof.

Then move the traps outside near the hole. The raccoons will go out to feed and can be caught when they can't climb down to do so. Also, if it makes sense get a cheap plastic tarp and place it around the area. Raccoons dislike stepping on the plastic so you can use it to confine their movement.

When you're satisfied the raccoons are gone close the hole and repair the damage.
Old 03-13-18, 05:39 AM
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Boy, that's quite a mark-up on Hav-a-Hart traps ! . . . . I could buy 15 or 20 in a variety of sizes for $450.00.

And to think that the Florida Pest Service had to buy and assemble new ones for this project is certainly odd.

I've trapped out, shot, poisoned, and squished lots of critters from my house and our barns over the past 3-4 decades, and can contribute a little bit here . . . . Raccoons seem to be drawn to the presence of human living quarters (and the opportunities presented there), just like Rats and Mice and even Shrews. Possum and Fox, on the other hand, are much more wary.

The Coons must have been on a serious reconnaissance mission to have come across that hole in the roof . . . . but they are opportunists, always on the hunt.
Old 03-13-18, 06:37 AM
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I'd ask for your money back. They obviously did not do the job and the installer did not follow his boss's directions. I think I would follow Vermont's plan of attack. Although I don't like the idea of leaving an open hole.
Old 03-13-18, 07:35 AM
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Raccoons will leave if they are disturbed enough and don't have young ones in the attic. In northeast winter they may linger until forced out due to exterior environment, but not in Florida. They may in fact be gone.

The traps should be in the attic and on the roof as others have pointed out. The chances of success are increased when trapping is performed in the area(s) where the target animal is active. When we try to changed their behavior such as baited traps in a room where they don't go, the chances of success go down. Hunger will influence them to pursue the food at times, though that would be more likely in a northeast winter, not a Florida winter. They were already eating somewhere else but found easy harborage in your property. I'm not so sure that the human scent will cause a raccoon to shy away, as they associate our scent with food and harborage when they are in urban/suburban areas. Rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, ground hogs, skunks, etc all live in proximity to humans because we are (mostly) beneficial to them.

I'd consider closing the roof opening with clear, sheet plastic and see if they tear through it, as a type of monitor. It won't trap them inside as plywood will. They may go nuts inside if that were to happen.

Might be a good idea to check with local county extension agent or Florida equivalent of Game and Animal commission to see when they have young in Florida.
Old 03-17-18, 03:22 PM
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An update with a recap.

Last Saturday pest control came and set two traps inside the house. Traps were placed inside the house because they said part of the ceiling is open so the raccoons would come down inside to take the bait. They never entered the attic as the tech said it's dangerous with the raccoons.

Sunday, the traps were still open and the bait (canned cat food) were untouched. I went inside the attic from both of the attic hatches (shouldn't they be the one to go up and inspect the attic?), and looked around with a flashlight. Didn't see anything, no sign of any animal or poop. I then made some noises by banging on the trusses and listened nothing. I didn't smell anything either. Since then I have been up in the attic twice and did the same thing, nothing.

Monday, the same situation. I called the pest control company and they came by and moved the two traps outside, and replaced the cat food with two pieces of fried chicken tender they bought at a local supermarket. One on each side of the property. I showed them where I found the hole in the roof (Shouldn't they be the one to look around looking for entry points?) an they said..."oh yes, for sure it's coming this way".

Tuesday morning, both traps were occupied. Trap #1 has a brown cat in it. I opened the trap and let it go. Trap #2 has a raccoon inside. I don't know if it's male or female.

I called the pest control company and they sent someone out to remove the trap with the raccoon.

Regarding whether it's legal to transport and release raccoons. The pest control company told me the law is you can kill it inside your property, or transport/release it as long as it's within the same county and into a site that's larger then 20 acres with the owner's permission, and they have a place to release it so I didn't ask any further.

By the way, when the technician came to remove trap #2, he said he saw another raccoon on the outside of the trap - possibly it's mate trying to help free it? But it saw the guy coming and ran away.

So after the one raccoon was removed, the tech told me to reset the other trap (the one where the cat was in).

Wednesday morning, the trap door was closed, but nothing inside. Not sure what happened. I reset the trap.

Thursday, it caught a cat, a different cat. I set it free. I then called the pest control company because the bait inside is now gone. They told me to get some fresh chicken or cat food and toss it inside which I did. They also told me to relocate the trap to the other side, where the first raccoon was caught, so I moved it.

Friday, again, the trap door was closed with nothing inside.

Saturday, it caught a possum. I called the pest control company once more, and they are sending someone to remove it. They told me if I want to set a trap...if I do, it will be another $250.

I told them to just remove the possum and trap for now and let me think about it.

Any suggestions?

The second raccoon was outside the trap it probably won't fall for a trap anymore?

I have been inside the attic three times looking for signs of raccoons especially babies but saw or heard nothing.
Old 03-18-18, 06:49 AM
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If I buy my own trap to trap the other raccoon, will she (I am guessing) fall for it, after seeing her mate being caught in it?

Will another male move in to take his place and I end up with the same problem again?

If I do catch another raccoon, how would I "take care" of it myself? I do not own any weapons. I don't know where to take it to release it. If I call wildlife animal control will they come remove it?
Old 03-18-18, 07:08 AM
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If I do catch another raccoon, how would I "take care" of it myself? I do not own any weapons. I don't know where to take it to release it. If I call wildlife animal control will they come remove it?
These are questions you should be asking of wildlife control before you get your own trap.
Old 03-19-18, 07:14 AM
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Like Ron said, get all your questions answered before setting a trap. Here in PA, unless the regulations have changed, trappers have to euthanize raccoons, ground hogs, skunks but not opossums or squirrels to mention a few. Now, I don't know hard seriously the Game Commission monitors and cites homeowners doing an occasional trap and relocation in spite of the regulations.

More passive animals can be euthanized with euthanasia fluid and syringe on a long pole, but I wouldn't try it with a raccoon. Me personally that is, I'm sure there are trappers that are good enough to do that but you better be good. A .22 caliber pistol worked well for me when I trapped.

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