Raccoon standing on snow with its tongue out

Do Raccoons Hibernate in the Winter?

Raccoons are mammals that inhabit North America and parts of Central and South America. Their ability to adapt to different climates has allowed them to thrive in different habitats, from urban areas to forests.

As winter approaches, one of the questions many people want to know is whether raccoons hibernate during this season.

Generally speaking, raccoons do not enter deep sleep or true hibernation like other mammals, such as bears. Still, they may spend extended periods in their dens or shelters during colder weather.

This behavior is called torpor. It’s less extreme than full-blown hibernation and often involves sleeping for long stretches during the coldest days while remaining active on warmer days. 

While they don’t truly hibernate in the winter, they find shelter beneath rocks or logs and eat more to gain body fat for insulation, which helps them survive the cold temperatures. In addition, their fur grows thicker in winter to help protect them from the cold.

Now let’s look at some of their winter habits to understand better how they survive during the cold winter months.

Key Pest Points

• Raccoons typically do not experience genuine hibernation like other mammals, including bears. However, in colder weather, they might stay in their dens or shelters for extended periods of time.

• Due to their ability to store significant amounts of body fat all year long in anticipation of cold weather, raccoons also rely on their fat reserves throughout the winter.

Where Do Raccoons Live in The Winter?

Raccoons can be found in wooded areas and forests, but they’re also comfortable making themselves home in urban settings. During the winter, raccoons may seek shelter in attics, garages, barns, and other dark places where temperatures remain relatively consistent.

In addition to taking up residence in our homes, raccoons will also find refuge in hollow trees and rock crevices. Sometimes, they’ll build a den or burrow beneath the ground.

Another way that raccoons protect themselves from cold temperatures is by choosing dens that are well-insulated. They may use leaves, moss, grass, and twigs to line the interior of their den, creating a warm, comfortable sleeping area.

Raccoon eating food on the snow covered ground

What Do Raccoons Eat in The Winter?

Raccoons are omnivorous animals and will feed on fruit, nuts, insects, small mammals, and other creatures readily available during the winter.

They will also forage for food, searching for grubs and other morsels under rotting logs and leaf litter. In addition, they may be seen scavenging around garbage cans or dumpsters in search of food scraps or leftovers.

Raccoons also rely on their fat reserves during the winter months, as they can store large amounts of body fat throughout the year in preparation for cold weather.

What Attracts Raccoons to Your Yard and Home in the Winter?

Raccoons are attracted to warm shelters, food sources, and places where they feel safe. As mentioned earlier, they will often take up residence in attics and basements of homes during the winter months.

They are also drawn to pet food left outside, bird seed, garbage cans, compost piles, and even open car doors.

Raccoons are also attracted to warm engines during the winter, so you must check underneath your car hood before starting the engine.

Finally, it’s essential to make sure any pet doors or windows are secured, as this could provide raccoons with easy access to food and shelter.

Raccoon sleeps in a wooden lodge

How To Prevent Raccoons From Entering Your Home or Yard in the Winter?

If you notice raccoons around your home or yard during the winter, there are several steps you can take to deter them.

1. Remove food sources such as pet food, birdseed, and garbage. They also like to feed on fruits and nuts, so cleaning up any fallen fruit or nuts from your yard is important.

2. Secure pet doors and windows that could provide access to your home. It’s also essential to inspect your home for other potential entry points that raccoons could use, such as vents, chimneys, and cracks in the foundation.

3. Install a fence or electric barrier around your property to keep raccoons away. This is especially useful if you live near a wooded area, as it will prevent them from accessing your yard.

4. Make sure that any outdoor lights are motion-sensor activated, so they only come on when necessary. This will deter raccoons from lingering around your property, as they are nocturnal animals and prefer to hunt and forage in the dark.

5. If raccoons are already living in your attic or basement, it’s important to call a wildlife professional for help. They will be able to safely remove the raccoons from your home and make sure that they don’t return.

These simple steps can help ensure that you, your family, and home are safe from raccoons during winter.

Raccoon FAQS

It can be hard to know what to do when you spot a raccoon on your property. To help, here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding raccoons during the winter:

Do raccoons come out at night in winter?

Yes, raccoons are nocturnal animals and typically come out at night searching for food. They prefer to hunt and forage in the dark, so it’s important to be extra vigilant during the night hours.

Where do raccoons sleep in the winter?

Raccoons are adept at finding warm and snug places to sleep in winter. They often choose dens insulated with leaves, moss, grass, and twigs. Attics and basements of homes may also provide them with shelter from the cold weather.

At what temperature do raccoons hibernate?

Raccoons do not hibernate, however, when typical temperatures fall below 15 °F, they will enter a protracted state of inactivity known as torpor. A raccoon in torpor can sleep for weeks while subsisting on stored fat reserves.

What is the natural predator of raccoons?

The natural predators of raccoons include foxes, coyotes, wolves, and bobcats. However, these animals are not always successful in capturing a raccoon as they are highly adaptable and can often escape danger by climbing trees or hiding in underground dens.

Do raccoons carry rabies?

Yes, raccoons can carry rabies and other diseases, so it’s important to avoid interacting with them. If you suspect a raccoon is rabid, contact your local animal control department or wildlife management agency for help.

These are just a few of the questions you may have regarding raccoons and their behavior during the winter months. Contact a local wildlife expert for advice if you have any other questions or concerns.

Remember, taking precautions to keep your family and property safe from these mischievous critters during the cold winter months is essential. Taking the necessary steps to deter them from your home or yard is the best way to keep raccoons away and protect yourself from potential danger.


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