"Honey… Did you hear that? That Scratching noise!" If you hear loud scratching or scraping noises in your attic or walls, you could have raccoon or a family of raccoons in your attic. And by the virtues of the laws of nature they are generally the females which means an entire family is either there or forthcoming so congratulations on the new addition to your family! Listen for typical movements that sound like thumps since raccoons can get fairly large. You may also hear their cries, growls, and chirps as they go about their business. Since they are nocturnal, they will move around mostly at night. Raccoons especially like to find attics to live in during the winter which is also the time of year when they mate. A raccoon uses several dens within its home range. Babies will stay with the mother close to a year. Females give birth to an average litter of 3-4 babies each Spring. Raccoons do not hibernate, but they do go through a period of decreased activity during the winter.
Is Raccoon Removal and Damage Covered By My Insurance?
There are a multitude of policies out there so it is difficult to say to 100% certainty, but the vast majority of the time it is a covered loss. Further, and generally speaking, it will significantly exceed the deductible (even percentage deductibles). The fortunate news is that insurance companies are familiar with the processes associated with the kind of loss and it largely depends upon the square footage of area that has been affected. Contrary to popular belief and the internet – pricing is not determined by the company doing the work when an insurance company is involved. The insurance companies provide pricing lists that restoration companies generally follow, so estimating is not really a necessary step. If covered by insurance, any negotiating will be performed by the insurance company not the property owner. Getting the raccoons out is the primary objective!
How Raccoons Get In Your Home or Attic
Raccoons are very strong for their size and they have very useful hands that are made for climbing. If they really want in, they can usually find a way either by clawing away build materials or using their sharp teeth. In many instances they choose homes that are near their natural habitat. Trees that are close to the home serve as a bridge or ladder as the critters search for a way in but they can also scale brick and wood walls! Common points of entry include but are not limited to: chewing through roofing materials, finding a gap or weak spot in dormers or eaves, etc. All they need is a place to grip the material for the sake of pulling the gap open.
The Damage a Raccoon Can Cause
If a raccoon is confronted, then it will bite and it could have rabies. So keep your family away from raccoons. Once inside your attic, raccoons will shred wallpaper, roofing and whatever else they can find to make a nest. They chew, scratch, claw, rip, and tear as they build their nests and live in their surroundings. Raccoons can chew through electrical wires and cause fires. They can die in your attic or get trapped in your walls and decay there, giving your home a foul smell for a long time. They will also leave droppings and a urine trail often and most everywhere they go. Raccoons can also host diseases like rabies and roundworm which are very serious health risks for your family. When it comes to damage to an attic space and/or walls and insulation the extent can be rather large. There are times when a raccoon favors a particular corner of a space whereby scat (fecal matter) can be concentrated and urine stains can appear in the home's ceiling. Most often, however, scat is in random places throughout.
How To Get Rid of Raccoons
It is always best and safest to call a professional to remove these animals. The risks simply are not worth the exposure. It may take several visits and various methods of capture to remove the family. Rest assured, the raccoons will be treated humanely.
The Raccoons are Gone! Now What?
- Find the Openings – Find the opening or openings that allowed the raccoons to get inside your home and know that those openings will need to be repaired and sealed.
- Remove the Droppings and Urine (Replacement of insulation is highly probable) – At this point the tasks to be performed are considered placed in the category of "biohazard" and should be dealt with accordingly by a professional that has training/experience in this area.
- Replace the Damaged Areas (Ceilings, Structural Members, etc.) – Building materials that absorb the urine and droppings will need to be removed and replaced. The parts of your home that have been chewed, scratched, clawed, ripped, and tore by these animals will need to be removed and replaced.
Other Animals That Can Get Into Your Home and Damage It
- Bats – One may hear scratching and squeaking sounds coming from the attic or walls or the chimney. They can enter through small holes and are most active at night. Bats are known to form colonies inside attics and create serious damage quickly.
- Rats & Mice – One will typically hear scratching sounds in the attic or walls that are of much quicker cadence than that of raccoon (think of a adults footsteps vs a 2 year old's). They are active mostly at night.
- Trapped Birds – Most enter your home to build nests and you'll hear scratching and chirping. Birds are most active in the early morning hours.
- Squirrels – One may hear jumping, scurrying or scratching sounds in the ceiling during the daylight hours.
Pictures From One of 1st Call's Raccoon Removal and Cleanup Projects
1st Call Disaster Services has a lot of experience cleaning up after a family of raccoons and there is right way and a wrong to do it.
A good restoration company can make sure a raccoon removal and cleanup is done right and that you're out of pocket damage liability is kept to a minimum. We've helped numerous home and business owners and they and their insurance company always appreciate our surgical approach to restoration!