Photo by CJ Baldwin

Raccoons can be found in all types of habitats.  They prefer woodland and wetland areas, although, due to continuous urbanization they have had to adapt to city life.  Raccoons have become very comfortable living near us and are not as afraid of people as most other wild animals.

Raccoons are nocturnal animals that sleep in dark, quiet areas during the day.  During mid-late summer nights it’s not uncommon to see more than one in your backyard.  They will eat insects, snails and grubs, fruits, vegetables, seeds, fish, birds and small mammals such as mice, rats and gophers.  They are seasonal eaters favoring fish and small mammals in the spring.  During other seasons they enjoy acorns, seeds and insects.

Raccoons will typically have one litter per year of three to six young.  Their mating season is from January to March with a gestation period lasting 63 days.

Preventing a Problem

  • Keep all pet food inside at night.  Raccoons are highly attracted to cat and dog food. Cats will adjust to eating during the day, and early morning is the best time to feed. Only leave out enough food for the cat to eat within 30 minutes to 1 hour. Never leave out large quantities of food – it only attracts large quantities of wildlife.
  • Close off cat and dog doors at night to prevent them from entering the house.
  • Fasten garbage cans securely with bungee cord or rope.  Raccoons have long slender fingers that make it easy to open garbage cans and grasp food.
  • Keep fallen fruit picked up.  If temptation is eliminated, fewer raccoons will wander into your yard.
  • Don’t leave garage and shed doors open at night.
  • Close off any possible holes/entrances to the foundation of your house or deck.  However, do not do this if you suspect babies are present, they will become trapped.
  • Never corner a raccoon or any other wildlife, which can encourage the animal to act defensively.
  • If you are in an open area and encounter a raccoon, just continue on your way, and the raccoon will do the same.
  • Never offer food.

Solving a Problem – Under the house or deck?

During the day, place ammonia-soaked rags in a can every 3-5 feet around perimeter and both sides of the entrance to the suspected problem area.  Spray Hot Pepper Deterrent around opening. Within 2-3 weeks, the raccoons should have moved elsewhere.  Sprinkle flour outside the entrance to the problem area and when you see exiting footprints, seal the entrance only once you’re sure they’ve evacuated.  Keep in mind that raccoons will not vacate until nightfall.

In the yard?

In the yard?

  • Metal wrapped around tree trunks will prevent climbing. 
  • Installing a motion detector sprinkler system that’s activated at night can help keep raccoons from becoming too comfortable in your yard.
  • Spraying a hot pepper mixture on your lawn will deter raccoons from digging for grubs/insects. Also, use beneficial nematodes in the spring and summer to rid your lawn of grubs and grub damage. Getting rid of the food source will solve the problem.

In your pond?

  • Submerge wire mesh around the perimeter of the water, attaching it to the edge, or use electric fencing.
  • You can also protect fish by including tunnels for them to escape into when raccoons are present.

Keep small animals secured at night.  Removing a raccoon will only open up the territory for other raccoons, or possibly opossums, skunks and other wildlife.

I found a baby raccoon. What should I do?

  • If you’ve found a baby raccoon, please do not feed or handle it!
  • Call WCSV immediately at (408)929-9453.

I found an injured raccoon:

  • Please do not handle, feed, or transport the animal!
  • In San Jose, Milpitas, Los Gatos, Cupertino, or Saratoga:
    Call San Jose Animal Care and Services at (408)794-7297. They will transport the animal to WCSV- it is not safe for you to handle or transport.
  • In Santa Clara, Campbell, Monte Sereno, or Mountain View:
    Call Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority at (408)764-0344. They will transport the animal to WCSV- it is not safe for you to handle or transport.
  • In Sunnyvale: Call Sunnyvale Animal Control at (408)730-7178. They will transport the animal to WCSV- it is not safe for you to handle or transport.
  • In the Unincorporated Areas of Silicon Valley:
    Call Santa Clara County Animal Control at (408)465-2920 ext 0. They will transport the animal to WCSV- it is not safe for you to handle or transport.
  • For any area not listed here:
    Call WCSV at (408)929-9453. We can help you find the contact information you will need!
Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
3027 Penitencia Creek Road
San Jose, CA 95132
1-408-929-9453 (929-WILD)

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