All About Marie

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Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Raccoons in Attic

Dear  Marie:

For the last three weeks, I’ve been hearing thumps and thuds in my attic.  I’ve also discovered a fairly large hole in my wood shake roof with tell tale shingles being thrown down on my patio each day by who knows what!  This animal is also making himself quite comfortable eating my dog’s food.  From what I can tell,  I think I’m feeding this intruder more than I'm feeding my dog!  To make matters worse,  I believe it’s also been using my swimming pool.  I've been finding all kinds of  “left-overs” by the pool’s edge!  I’m not sure what I've got living in the attic, but I’d like to know how to persuade it to live elsewhere!   Any tips will surely be appreciated!

Howard, Anaheim Hills

Dear Howard,

You've described  city-raccoon behavior to a tee and you are definitely not alone with your problem.  When urban sprawl began consuming Orange County, several decades ago, most of the original four legged and winged residents moved away to undeveloped areas.  But soon, growth began encircling and closing in on those last open spaces, leaving animals with two choices: adapt or die. 

Many could not adapt because their instinctual fear of mankind kept them from the abundant food, water, and shelter sources available in the city.  But some did overcome that hurdle, slowly but surely.  Each succeeding generation of surviving urban wildlife became less and less afraid of close encounters with human beings.

Today, Orange County residents routinely describe the activities of their wild neighbors as unnatural, or bold and brazen, as if there is something inherently dangerous with this behavioral shift.  The fact is, these animals are doing whatever it takes to survive given the tools and abilities granted to them by nature.  The bottom line is, we can all co-exist safely in the same area if we use common sense, a skill granted to US by nature!

Obviously, a raccoon ripping up your roof and keeping you up at night is not an ideal co-existence.  There are several things you need to do to encourage your guest to leave.  First of all, feed your dog indoors only.  Leaving a big bowl of food in your backyard is an open invitation to all wild animals that dinner is on you!  You’re lucky a family of skunks hasn't moved in too!  Secondly, use a pool cover.  Raccoons are fastidiously clean animals and love having a water source around to wash food and other treasures.  Eliminate their access to water; even your dog’s water bowl should be moved indoors.


Finally, watch for the raccoon to leave the attic.  This will most likely be late at night, so plan to go without sleep, or work in “shifts” with other family members.  Once the raccoon is out, cut away tree branches that lead up to your roof, and remove any other item that may serve as a ladder.  (If possible, look around the attic to see if there are any babies...this time of year is definitely family time.  If there are babies, you may need to wait on the eviction process until they are old enough to leave with their mom.) You’ll also need to make sure there are no other critters (aside from the raccoon) up in the attic.  So each morning, sprinkle cooking flour around the damaged shingles.  If after several consecutive days you find no footprints in the flour, and hear no more thuds and thumps, the hole can be repaired and you will have successfully evicted your uninvited tenant!

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