Where Do Raccoons Live?

raccoon walking on branch
© iStock.com/Ildiko Laskay

Written by Rebecca Bales

Updated: November 3, 2022

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When you picture a raccoon, you probably think of the black stripe of fur running across this animal’s face. Some people say this black fur makes a raccoon look like it’s wearing a mask or a disguise.

The description fits a raccoon because this clever animal tries to stay hidden from sight whenever possible. However, besides its notable facial fur, do you know much about these mammals with a reputation for adaptability? Where do raccoons live? What are their sleeping habits like?

Keep reading to learn more about where raccoons live and other information about this unique animal.

What is a Raccoon?

A raccoon is a small mammal measuring from two to three feet long including its tail. These animals are considered medium-sized and can weigh from 10 to 20 pounds. They have thick fur that’s a mix between gray and brown.

A raccoon has a pointed snout, ears that stand up, and four tiny feet featuring five toes with sharp claws. Its tail is just as notable as its face. A raccoon’s tail is bushy with rings of black and gray or brown. The tail rings have earned it the nickname ringtail.

These animals are omnivores eating crawfish, fruit, nuts, birds’ eggs, and rodents. They aren’t picky eaters. They’re willing to eat whatever is most convenient at the time.

Male raccoons are solitary and live alone while female raccoons are social and live with other female raccoons.


Where Do Raccoons Live?

Raccoons live in North America and the northern portion of South America. They thrive in a temperate climate. In a natural environment, they make their homes in hollow trees, piles of wood or brush, and even in unoccupied burrows built by foxes.

In addition, raccoons can build a nest in an attic inside a home. Oftentimes, they tear insulation and move it around to create a nesting area in a corner or the rafters. A raccoon that seeks shelter in an attic is likely to have babies there because it’s a warm, safe place.

Raccoons are known for conserving their energy during winter. They do not hibernate in the same sense as a bear, however, they are less active during the colder months. Raccoons are opportunistic feeders and will eat what they can find. As long as a raccoon has found a solid source of food and water, it may call the area home.

In addition, these mammals have been known to seek shelter in garden sheds, garages, and barns. Sometimes raccoons even build nests in unused chimneys.

Male raccoons are solitary, so they live in a hollow tree or burrow by themselves. However, female raccoons are social. They may live in a den or burrow with several other female raccoons and their young.

When Are Raccoons Active?

With the question “where do raccoons live?” out of the way, it’s time to take a look at this little mammal’s lifestyle. If you never stay up late, you’re not likely to have seen a raccoon. These mammals are nocturnal. So, they are out searching for food after nightfall. During the day, they sleep in hollow trees, burrows, piles of brush, or tucked away in a home’s attic.

In rare instances, you may see a raccoon wandering around during the daytime. Some people assume that a raccoon is ill if it’s out during the day. But this isn’t always true. Sometimes female raccoons go out during the day to look for extra food to feed their young babies, also called kits.

Raccoons have an excellent vision so they can see very well in the dark. They travel easily almost anywhere. Raccoons can climb trees and swim as well as move fairly quickly on the ground.

This ability provides them with the opportunity to find many sources of food.

Raccoons love to find food in trashcans so having a trashcan with a locking lid can be helpful in keeping them away.


Are Raccoons Afraid of People?

The short answer is no. Raccoons can live in urban or suburban areas with lots of houses around. Many live in rural areas near ranches and farms. If a raccoon catches the scent of something delicious, it won’t hesitate to explore areas with houses and people in search of food.

This leads to a problem many homeowners deal with. That problem is raccoons dumping over their garbage cans and digging through their trash for goodies. Raccoons are very resourceful when it comes to finding food in or near a home.

They can dump over garbage cans or climb inside them to root around for discarded food. Raccoons can leave paper towels, bags, old tuna cans, and other trash spread out all over a driveway or sidewalk.

Some raccoons are bolder than others. They have been known to enter garages and homes through open windows or doggy doors to search for food.

Ways to Keep Raccoons Away from Your Home

There are some things that homeowners and others can do to discourage raccoons from entering their property and creating a mess. Here are some helpful tips to keep raccoons away:

  • Get trash cans with locking handles so the lid can’t be removed by a raccoon.
  • Secure all windows so raccoons can’t climb in.
  • Block off any places in the attic where a raccoon could get in from the outside.
  • Don’t leave any food items on the patio or outside where raccoons can pick up the scent.
  • Sprinkle garlic powder or cayenne pepper near your garbage cans to keep ringtails away. Raccoons do not like those powerful smells!
  • Install your bird feeder on top of a thin stand or pole. Raccoons have trouble climbing very thin structures.
  • Keep dog and cat food bowls indoors so they’re not available to visiting raccoons.
  • Install motion-sensing lights in the backyard to scare these creatures away. They don’t want the attention!

Keep in mind that if a raccoon has found food on your property once, it is likely to return several times to see if there is more food. They are known for their persistence as well as their intelligence. If someone leaves food out or even purposely puts food outside, it’s going to attract dozens of raccoons. So, it’s best to take precautions right away to discourage them.

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About the Author

Rebecca is an experienced Professional Freelancer with nearly a decade of expertise in writing SEO Content, Digital Illustrations, and Graphic Design. When not engrossed in her creative endeavors, Rebecca dedicates her time to cycling and filming her nature adventures. When not focused on her passion for creating and crafting optimized materials, she harbors a deep fascination and love for cats, jumping spiders, and pet rats.

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