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In terms of damage, raccoons cause quite a bit, and it doesn't just start with your attic. Raccoons will break into your attic, usually by way of the roof, and this is where the devastation usually starts.
As raccoons try to get higher and higher, you'll find scratch marks where they have been. They'll use their sharp claws to grab hold of textured surfaces in a bid to climb upwards, and this can damage all sorts of materials, particularly on the exterior walls of your home. Trees can be hard-hit, siding torn off, busted downspouts, and even grubby paw prints all over the place. Raccoons aren't known for being gentle, so just think of them like a determined toddler with heavy hands and you've got about the right idea.
These creatures have got to get inside your attic somehow and for raccoons, that somehow is usually by tearing shingles away from the roof itself. The lining underneath is easily torn through also, and if there are vents, entry or exit points for pipes or ducts, and even windows, they'll come under attack too. Did we mention that raccoons were determined?
Personal Property Damage
Wherever the raccoon manages to get in, it'll chew, scratch, move about, and generally mess-up. Personal belongings are likely to be destroyed in one way or another, whether they are covered in droppings and urine that the creature has kindly left behind for you, or chewed up to make nesting or bedding material. Nothing is safe.
Personal belongings will be chewed just as much as the electrical cables that allow you to light up the building. If the raccoons manage to get access to and then chew major cables in the building, there is a chance that you will have a blackout and/or require expensive electrical repair work. Mains-operated electronics will not work when the wires have been chewed. You might find yourself with broken electrical items and lights or plug sockets that don't work when they are switched on. Worse than that; the entire house might just shut down entirely. Who knew raccoons could be so destructive?
In the same ways that raccoons (and other animals) can chew right through electrical cables, certain materials used in plumbing pipes can also be chewed through, particularly plastic ones. Small holes will lead to light leaks, but bigger holes can result in full-blown floods that, in turn, can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. You may even need to undertake structural repairs on the building.
Raccoons are keen eaters — they do it all day, every day, and they'd even do it more than that if they could. They wouldn't turn down a good meal, no matter how that meal comes about, whether it's roadkill, leftovers in a garbage bag, or seeds and nuts in a bird feeder. Sadly, lots of feeding means lots of waste; raccoons create waste as a staggering speed.
It looks like dog poop, but raccoon skat is super dangerous when it's left lying around. Responsible for the spread of diseases such as Tularemia, salmonellosis, and leptospirosis, raccoon skat does need to be cleaned away in a safe and specific manner.
Not just spreading diseases, raccoon skunk can stain the materials it comes into contact with, plus urine stains are not only unsightly, but difficult to get rid of. The whole package usually equals quite the smelly mess.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does raccoon removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of raccoons - my main raccoon removal info guide.
Example raccoon trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Raccoon job blog - learn from great examples of raccoon jobs I've done.
Raccoons in the attic - what to do to solve the problem.