Unlike a small squirrel or mouse, raccoons can weigh from 12 to 20 pounds. This larger body mass means they have more strength and can wreak more havoc than other pests. On the positive side, keeping a raccoon out does not mean sealing every ½” hole as when dealing with rodents.
Raccoons are highly intelligent and have very dexterous hands. I use the word "hands" instead of "paws" because these hands are capable of opening doors, hatches and windows. Jars and garbage cans are also easily breached by raccoons. They have been known to dig through siding and roof panels, pry open attic vents and invade crawlspaces.
Why Raccoons Chew Through Soffits
Raccoons like to make dens in chimneys and attics. Soffits are easy entry points for a few reasons:
- Your soffit usually will be within easy reach of a roof corner and have a simple lightweight covering.
- Soffits often have vents and raccoons can feel the warm, dry air. They think, "I'd like to live in there."
- Soffits are not exposed to weather, so in many cases their construction is very minimal, often just be a thin aluminum or vinyl panel that can be easily pried open by a raccoon.
- They're in low traffic areas of the home, so the entry and damage often go unnoticed for a long time. By the time you notice a raccoon has chewed through your soffit and entered your attic, the den may have increased its population by a recent litter. Once the young are up and about, the “party” starts and homeowners discover the extent of their problem.
Move Them Out; Seal It Up
To effectively control the problem, all of the animals must be removed, and all potential entry points need to be secured. A mother raccoon trying to get back to her kits is about as bad as it can get, so the removal process needs to be complete.
When repairing a soffit, simply snapping a missing panel back in place may not be enough. You'll have to install sturdy wire mesh, solid panels or bars. (Hire a professional roofer to do this for you, if you prefer.) After all shouldn’t a “masked bandit” be behind bars?
Kevin Stevens writes for Networx.com.
Updated March 26, 2018.