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Raccoons like to spend cold weather in safe hidey-holes. When autumn arrives, they direct their attention to finding a den to spend the winter in a low-energy rest state known as torpor. Then spring comes, when they’ll be bearing and hiding away their young. That often means baby raccoons in your sheds, porches, attics, basements and especially chimneys. The babies quickly become adult raccoons, and from then on out, it’s just roving raccoons without Bradley Cooper’s charm.

Raccoons are not particularly aggressive, galactic mutant variations notwithstanding, but they can carry rabies and bring fleas and ticks into your yard and home. Plus, they tend to damage structures with their efforts to get in. So it’s best to prevent their invasion, or get rid of raccoons once they show up.

How to prevent raccoons

Check around the edges of your house and property for trouble spots that might invite a critter in. Broken boards, burrows under fences and areas under decks and porches with holes large enough to slip through are all prime hangouts for raccoon families. Fix these elements to prevent entry by raccoons and other pests.

Keep your trees trimmed and away from the roof of your house. Branches make excellent pathways for raccoons to slip into your attic. Make sure your trash cans are covered and that you don’t leave pet food in the yard. Nothing attracts raccoons like a free drive-up menu.

You can also purchase raccoon repellent products and sprays over the counter, although animal control experts disagree on how effective they may be. In particular, mothers of young raccoons are less likely to be driven away by raccoon repellent.

How much does raccoon removal cost?

So, maybe you didn’t take quite as meticulous care to prevent raccoons, or perhaps even the best laid plans couldn’t keep them out. In that case, it’s time to contact an animal removal company. This is a tricky enough job that it’s best not to DIY unless you really know what you’re doing.

A professional raccoon removal service might use one of a number of methods to get rid of raccoons, but most commonly, they will try to engage in humane raccoon removal. This involves trapping the adult raccoons (usually the mother) and once the nest has been located, remove the baby raccoons by hand.

The cost of raccoon removal will vary depending on the extent of the problem, what repairs are required to keep future raccoons out, and your region of the country. However, you can usually expect to pay $200-$400 for the raccoon removal job.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace.

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