Serving Mercer, Ocean, Monmouth, Somerset, & Middlesex County
Recently, I went on a service call for a homeowner in Howell, NJ who was complaining of hearing noises in his attic late at night. I had a strong suspicion it was raccoons since they are nocturnal creatures. They usually sleep during the daylight and spend their nights foraging for food. Even though I suspected that it was raccoons in the homeowner’s attic, I still needed to conduct a thorough inspection.
Once I arrived, I began a thorough inspection on the roof and couldn't find any access points or a single trace of a raccoon anywhere. I continued inspecting the exterior of the property and found paw prints smeared on the soffit by the garage. As I took a closer look, it appeared that soffit had been disturbed recently, but once again, found no signs of a raccoon. I spoke to the homeowner and he explained that the garage was an addition to the home and separate from the main house.
I continued my inspection to the garage and discovered something interesting. A cut-out for a non-existing chimney that led straight into the main attic in the original structure of the house. As I inspected, I found torn insulation that a raccoon was using to build a nest. Raccoons aren’t picky about what they use for a nest. Insulation provides amazing comfort and warmth, and a raccoon will shred the material until it generates enough of a pile to burrow within. Turns out the raccoon was using this "chimney" as an access point and was traveling across the entire house.
The best method for safely trapping the raccoon is to set-up a positive set over the access point. A positive set is a set that covers the entire access point, leaving no room for the intruder to use any other access point, and forces the critter out of the attic and into the set — so we are "positive" that we'll catch it. A positive set is the safest and most effective method to retrieve the raccoon.
In fact, within 20 minutes of setting up the trap, I heard it go off and the raccoon was inside! Then, as a temporary solution, I sealed up the main entry hole with metal flashing and hardware cloth. The homeowner informed me that he has hired a contractor to replace the soffit and seal off the non-existing chimney. Now I can safely and humanely relocate the raccoon and the homeowner's property is rodent free — a win-win scenario!