“Raccoon in the attic” is one of our most common calls. Raccoons are excellent climbers and have little problems reaching rooftops where they can then enter attics. They may even enter crawl spaces if left open. Having these guys in your home can wreak havoc on your home. We had one customer who had raccoons tear about 30 holes in a flat vinyl roof while they were away on vacation. (It also rained while they were gone.) We thought that it might be helpful if people knew a few of the signs to look for if they think they have this problem. Simply seeing a Raccoon in the back yard does not mean that you have them in the attic.
Latrines – Raccoons will make latrines in attics of homes where they live. Latrines are accumulated piles of feces. Feces looks similar to a small to midsized dog droppings.
Latrines on Roof – Raccoon will create latrines on the roof of homes. If raccoons can make it to the roof they are likely to test for “soft spots” and attempt to gain entry. Make sure that possible entry points are solid.
Attic Noises – Raccoons make a great deal of noise in attics. Noises include footsteps, Snarls, kitten like mews, thumps, etc. Raccoons can make more noise than smaller rodents (rats, mice, squirrels) who tend to make more scratching, gnawing, and scurrying noises.
Out of Place Soffit Panels – Soffits are the number one entry point for Raccoons. Vinyl panels are easily pushed aside especially if they are poorly installed. However, Raccoons sometimes enter and soffit panels spring back into place. This depends, to a great extent on how the soffit was installed.
Scratch Marks on Woodwork- Scratches on 4×4 post and other wood work can be indicators of Raccoon activity. Often woodwork is used to gain access to upper portions of homes. Toenail scratches will often be left behind, especially if a post is used consistently. (see picture)
Roof Sightings – Sightings on roofs are cause for suspicion especially if they are regular. Once they gain access to roof areas, Raccoons will attempt to gain entry to attics.
Foot Prints in Dust – Small footprints in the shape of a hand on the top of air conditioning ductwork are a good sign of raccoon intrusion. Often Raccoons will use ductwork as a pathway to get from one part of attic to another
Open Holes in Foundations – Large open holes in foundations are invitations to all types of wildlife including raccoons. Look for hand like prints on plastic sheeting, in mud, etc.
Unexplained Dirty Smears – Unexplained dirty smears on the exterior of your home is a good indicator of activity. Smears occur where animals climb or rub against the side of homes. Smears may be seen along downspouts if Raccoons are climbing them for access to the roof.
Insulation Trails – Raccoons will follow regular pathways through insulation once they gain access to the attic. Noticeable compression of the insulation will be evident. Trails will be evident. Raccoon trails are much wider than those of other species. Raccoon trails will be 10-12” wide or more.
Noises Coming From the Chimney – Raccoons often use chimneys to raise their young. Chimney noises will become more noticeable as the young raccoons grow larger and are more active.
Although raccoons are one of the largest home invader species that we deal with, customers often go for long periods of time and do not realize that they are host to these animals. Recently this spring we completed a project for a Johnson City area client who noticed several displaced soffit panels on her home. She had not heard any noises or seen any other signs of raccoons. She believed that the raccoon invasion was relatively recent. Upon inspection, we found flexible heating and cooling ductwork was shredded as was tubing that carried air from bathroom ventilation fans. There were several latrines in various parts of the attic. Insulation was severely compacted and had pathways trampled into it. Damage was significant.
It was only during the exclusion and repair process that we realized how long the raccoons had been in the attic. Large numbers of Persimmon seeds were found in the raccoon droppings. Persimmon seeds are only available to raccoons in the Fall. Persimmons were probably available to the raccoons as much as six months previous to the call from this customer. It is possible that the raccoons were in her attic much longer than six months.