by Lucinda Adamson
Assistant Center Manager
Now is the time to inspect and maintain your home and yard to ensure that, come spring, you won’t have any unwanted wild animals raising their families in your space.
Every year Humboldt Wildlife Care Center raises orphaned skunks and raccoons, most of whom need not have been orphaned. Typically the mother was trapped and relocated when homeowners heard or saw activity in the spring, not realizing they were separating a young family and leaving 3-5 infants alone to die unless their screams for help are heard and they are rescued in time.
Wild mothers look for places that are warm, dark, quiet and protected to give birth and raise their babies. Once the babies are old enough (2-3months) they will follow their mothers out at night and the den will be abandoned until next spring. In urban environments, Raccoons may den under the house, often in the void around the bathtub, or in the attic where the entrance is hard to access and easy to defend from predators. Skunks often den under sheds or woodpiles
Walk around your property pay careful attention to these areas:
- Foundation vents: make sure all vents are covered with metal screen. Gently push on all vents to ensure the screen is firmly attached. Any missing screens, broken screens, or rusty screens should be replaced.
- Signs of digging: especially around foundation, sheds, and porches
- Mobile home or porch skirting: Make sure there are no missing boards or openings that will allow access to animals. Even small holes should be patched.
- Attic vents and roof overhangs: Make sure vents are screened and all openings are securely covered.
- Chimney: Make sure the chimney cap didn’t blow off in the winter storms. Bats and swifts roost or nest in chimneys and other animals could fall in and become trapped.
- Roof: Trim back any tree branches that may provide roof access to raccoons. Never trim branches during nesting season, though!
Securing these access points will prevent wild mothers from using your home as their nursery. Since these dens are only used to raise young, winter is the best time to make any necessary repairs because it is unlikely that any animals will be trapped inside. If you do suspect an animal is actively using an opening call us at HWCC (707) 822-8839, so we can help determine when it is safe to close the opening.
A little time spent maintaining your home now can help prevent a lot of suffering for your wild neighbors come spring.
An orphaned Raccoon is released after 4 months in care. It’s better for everyone if Mama raises her own babies.
If raccoons or skunks do end up denning under your home, take heart in knowing they won’t be there for long. If you are able to tolerate their presence for a few months they will be on their way before long.
If you are not able to tolerate their presence, do NOT set a trap and do NOT call a pest control company. It is possible to convince the mother to move her babies to another den away from your home and we can help humanely resolve the situation in a manner that satisfies you and the animals. Call us and we will be happy to walk you through the steps that will work best for your situation.
As always, thank you! Your support not only helps us provide excellent care for our wild neighbors in need, but also helps us prevent orphanings and injuries in the first place! Promoting co-existence with our wild neighbors is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing.