Where Do Raccoons Live?

Raccoons are found across the United States, in both urban and rural settings. However, that doesn’t mean you are likely to see them, as they are most active at night. So, where do raccoons live during the day? Keep reading to find out.

Raccoon habitats. These native mammals prefer to live in areas with plentiful tree cover near a source of water. However, raccoons have adapted to live in a variety of urban and suburban settings as well.

In rural, or sparsely populated areas, you may see evidence of raccoons near rivers, streams and lakes. They are also found in marshes, and areas that are heavily forested or full of dense brush.

Where people have taken over, raccoons have altered their preferences to match man-made offerings. In urban settings, they are often found near food sources, including dumpsters, gardens or parks, and in storm drains.

Raccoons typically have what is called a "home range," or an area they stake a claim to. How big the range is will depend on how large the raccoon is, how old it is and where it is. Urban raccoons often have smaller ranges than suburban or rural raccoons. The size of a range is anywhere from 1 square mile to 18 square miles.

Raccoons seen by people are usually active, so it's common to wonder, "Where do raccoons sleep?" The answer is, inside their den.

In the den. Once a raccoon has found somewhere that offers food and access to water, it must then make itself a den. In rural settings, dens are often repurposed burrows dug by other animals. Wild raccoons are also known to build dens in hollow logs, below rocks or brush piles, or in hollowed trees.

In more urban settings, a raccoon's den may be an abandoned vehicle, a chimney, an attic or crawl space, or any other protected location they can get into. They also often take refuge below homes or underneath woodpiles.

Raccoons typically have multiple dens, and they move between them every couple of days. Because they are primarily nocturnal, raccoons during the day will be resting. These mammals are able to climb, and are sometimes seen in trees, leading some to wonder, "Do raccoons live in trees?" The answer is no, except in cases where a den is located inside a hollowed tree. Raccoons may climb trees in order to rest safely during the day. Most raccoons, however, will rest inside one of their dens.

A hands-off approach. Many people find raccoons to be cute, and it can be tempting to approach or even feed them when you cross paths. However, this is not a wise course of action. While raccoons out during the day may just be foraging for extra food or moving between dens, they could also be sick. Like foxes and skunks, wild raccoons are often exposed to rabies, and should only be approached or handled by trained professionals.

If you do see a raccoon out during the day, there's no reason to be afraid. As long as you give it space and do not antagonize it, the raccoon should move along. Should it vanish into your attic or below your home, call a pest management professional to discuss your options.