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Raccoon in the ceiling!
April 15, 2012 6:47 AM   Subscribe

There is a raccoon nesting in the attic crawlspace above my apartment. It is loud. What is the usual process for removing it, and how can I convince my landlord to be responsible for that process?

This is in the great state of Virginia, if it's relevant.
posted by killdevil to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
 
Calling Animal Control is how you safely remove a raccoon from the premises.

As for your landlord...How friendly are you with him/her? Have you already reported the raccoon problem? I mean, it's highly unlikely the raccoon got up there through any action of yours...right? There's probably a hole in the roof or siding that allowed the critter to get in, and that's clearly a failure of the landlord's to properly maintain the property. I would hope they would recognize that fact.

Having raccoons nesting in the attic of a home is a health and safely issue. They will eventually find access to your living space.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 AM on April 15, 2012


Virginia Tenant Responsibilities:

Article 3
Tenant Obligations
§ 55-248.16. Tenant to maintain dwelling unit.
A. In addition to the provisions of the rental agreement, the tenant shall:

3. Keep that part of the dwelling unit and the part of the premises that he occupies free from insects and pests, as those terms are defined in § 3.2-3900, and to promptly notify the landlord of the existence of any insects or pests;

§ 3.2-3900 -- "Pest" means any deleterious organism that is: (i) any vertebrate animal other than man;


"Occupy" isn't defined explicitly, so it may be worth contacting a lawyer about whether you "occupy" a crawlspace. But definitely talk to your landlord first, and show him or her this if you get pushback.
posted by Etrigan at 7:08 AM on April 15, 2012


To be clear, there's no access to the crawlspace from our unit. There is evidently access from an upstairs unit (though the crawlspace, actually unfinished roof truss area, is above our ceiling and thus the animal bothers us and not the upstairs folks).
posted by killdevil at 7:15 AM on April 15, 2012


Don't count on animal control being any help - around here thanks to budget cuts animal issues are a private problem. When the abandoned house down the street from us became a raccoon den the city did nothing about the raccoons that were in everyone's yards as a result and we were explicitly told to hire a private contractor to remove the family that took up residence in my chimney. (the house was eventually torn down after years of complaints). Your landlord should be willing to spring for this since raccoons are incredibly destructive and will do enormous amounts of damage to the building if left alone.
posted by leslies at 7:19 AM on April 15, 2012


Calling Animal Control is how you safely remove a raccoon from the premises.

No, there's no reason to have 'em killed, and that's what will happen if you call animal control (or a company that charges you $$ as well). Where do you people get your critter-fear? That's not cool. The coons in their humane traps are usually put live into a garbage drum full of water and drowned, or killed with carbon monoxide from a car exhaust whis is painful and slow. Ahimsa, you know?

It's easy:

Put an open container filled with ammonia in the attic. Critters WILL NOT abide the smell. Give them plenty of time to move out, including possible babies.

Then make darn sure you find out how they got in and patch the entrance.

This is foolproof and has been used by wildife rehabilitators and animal enthusiasts (and myself) for years.


In all of recorded human history only two people have died from raccon-strain rabies. Dog and bat strains are more common, and transmission of rabies via bats is only really a little common outside of N. America.

Give a cute li'l masked bandit a break, okay?
:-)
posted by Shane at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


If Animal Control can't/won't help, your local SPCA may have a Havaheart trap loan program. ( Havahearts are basically a steel cage that will catch the animal without hurting them.) You would have to have access to the attic to set and retrieve the trap, though.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:39 AM on April 15, 2012


No, there's no reason to have 'em killed, and that's what will happen if you call animal control (or a company that charges you $$ as well).

You must live in a particularly backward/bloodthirsty part of the country. Where I live, which is definitely not a bastion of well-funded public services, Animal Control (either public or private) is entirely focused on live trapping and re-release away from populations. To suggest that animal control = death is just absurd and unhelpful.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Actually our local raccoon removal company went to great lengths to NOT kill raccoons but to relocate them. However, lots of places have laws prohibiting moving them because you're just redistributing the problem so you should check into that before getting a live trap. Concern about rabies is the least of the worry in terms of raccoons. We have friends who were having major work done on their house - raccoons got in while the house was uninhabited and did thousands of dollars of damages - and that's not even mentioning the issues of pets getting hurt or killed in a fight with a raccoon. They're cute from a distance and a big problem up close.
posted by leslies at 7:44 AM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You must live in a particularly backward/bloodthirsty part of the country. Where I live, which is definitely not a bastion of well-funded public services, Animal Control (either public or private) is entirely focused on live trapping and re-release away from populations.

Yes, in Ohio and many other sates it's against the law to trap and release a raccoon. It's even against the law to rehab and release an orphaned baby raccoon. All of our "wildlife control" companies kill the 'coons they catch. This is because the State wildlife agencies designate raccons as nuisance animals and a rabies vector in order to justify their salaries and positions. I've spoken with wildlife biologists employed by the State (we call them "biostitutes") who have candidly admitted as much to me, off the record.
posted by Shane at 7:54 AM on April 15, 2012


Sorry if I jumped to conclusions, but many states are the same as Ohio, Ohio IS backward and bloodthirsty, and you should check your state's laws if you care about the critters. Thanks.
posted by Shane at 8:09 AM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Virginia's information about dealing with wild mammals in urban areas.

Unfortunately, nuisance wildlife trapped by homeowners or licensed nuisance animal trappers must be euthanized and not relocated. The reasons for this are many:

the welfare of relocated animals is often poor and survival is low;
relocated animals usually don't stay at a release site and could become a problem for others;
moving animals is unlawful because of the potential for disease transmission (moving mammals could add to the spread of rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and sarcoptic mange to mention a few); and
there are already healthy populations of these species across the state and few suitable locations for release.
Simply put, you would be giving your problem to someone else. If everybody dropped off their trapped wildlife in the city parks or just outside of town there would be an unnatural concentration of animals in these areas that further increases disease risks for wildlife.


So yes, you are supposed to call Animal Control, but yes, they are going to euthanize it once they get it out, since Virginia is in no danger of running out of raccoons. I would try contacting a wildlife rehabilitator. A rehabber is unlikely to take your raccoon since it's not injured or orphaned, and as a rabies vector species coons are require special licensing to handle, but a rehabber may be more sympathetic to getting the animal out humanely.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:00 AM on April 15, 2012


[Folks, try to stay on the topic which is dealing with and managing this raccoon problem, not animal control issues generally. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:17 AM on April 15, 2012


unfortunately most states that require 'coon euthanization also prohibit rehabbers from legally rehabbing raccoons

I don't know about other states, but that's definitely not true in Georgia: trapped raccoons there are euthanized instead of relocated, but a good friend of regularly rehabs raccoons, for which she has a special license. It's just turned baby raccoon season, so she's getting a lot of them!

To be clear, OP, I suggested you contact a rehabber for advice for you to get the coon out yourself, not necessarily for the rehabber to take the coon.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:21 AM on April 15, 2012


how can I convince my landlord to be responsible for that process?

You can tell him that, in a house I lived in in Takoma Park, a raccoon got into the crawl space between the roof and the apartment below, and fell into that apartment. The tenant got up in the middle of the night to see what the noise was and surprise! There was an angry and frightened raccoon in his living room. Nobody wants that. If I'm remembering right, the landlord had to pay the tenant some amount of damages and forgive some chunk of rent to make it all right.
posted by rtha at 9:22 AM on April 15, 2012


just FYI, even though rabies might be rare, you can still get nasty parasites from raccoon poo. definitely get this dealt with asap and wear a respirator or get a professional when dealing with 'raccoon latrines' as they're called.
posted by genmonster at 11:47 AM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also FYI, the ammonia thing did not work for us.
posted by ambrosia at 1:35 PM on April 15, 2012


You know, Allstate hates raccoon damage enogh to have featured it in one of their adds. Might be worth sending a link to your landlord. Head to you tube & do a search on "Mayhem," "raccoon," & "allstate." (Sorry, phone won't paste link.)
posted by Ys at 5:52 PM on April 15, 2012


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