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Viral video captures ‘terrifying’ moment raccoon attempts to claw through ceiling

Yesenia Irizarry detailed the traumatizing string of incidents after she and her roommates discovered a band of raccoons living in their ceiling.
On Thursday, March 3, Yesenia Irizarry shared an Instagram story of the incident that happened in November 2021..
On Thursday, March 3, Yesenia Irizarry shared an Instagram story of the incident that happened in November 2021..Instagram

The first time Yesenia Irizarry realized she was living with raccoons it was because her roommates were screaming.

“I was coming home and I heard them screaming as I was coming up the stairs,” the 22-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student told TODAY. Irizarry entered her Brooklyn, New York, apartment to find her three roommates frantically attempting to address the raccoon working its way into their kitchen through a chandelier on their ceiling

“(The roommates) said that they were just trying to make some food and then all of a sudden they just heard it scratching and then it just like popped out the chandelier,” Irizarry said, adding that the raccoon’s reign of terror (the scratching and arm batting) went on for more than three hours.

On Thursday, March 3, Irizarry shared an Instagram story of the incident that happened in November 2021.

“Basically they were living rent-free.”


Up until that point, Irizarry had been living in her apartment for a year. However, it was only last fall that she became aware of a raccoon situation descending onto the areas around her apartment. In the months before a raccoon attempted to push its way through her kitchen ceiling, Irizarry says she’d seen others lurking around on the fire escape outside of her living room. They’d peer into her windows and she could hear them up on her roof, sometimes even scratching at the walls outside of her apartment. It was alarming but never enough to question what was going on until months later on the night Irizarry came home to find her roommates screaming in the kitchen, begging 911 to come and help.“What do you do in that situation?” Irizarry asked, laughing about their attempts to call the emergency number. “They were like, ‘Oh, we don’t even want to go up.’ So they told me to call Animal Control.”

That recommendation became the first in a series of months-long attempts to get her unwanted lodgers out of her apartment. Animal Control had estimated the animals had climbed behind the wall of their fireplace and into their ceiling.

Irizarry’s roommate at the time, Tamika Alleyne, who also talked to TODAY, says that eventually, they moved into the ceiling above her bedroom.

“I heard it in my room trying to scratch through my light,” Alleyne said, noting that at times she could hear the raccoons scratching at the living room and hallway ceilings. “Basically they were living rent-free.”

Irizarry described the process of getting the animals to vacate as particularly slow and that her landlord seemed a little too unfazed. “He was just kind of like, ‘Oh, not again,’” she explained of the first time she notified him of the situation, adding that when an Animal Control officer finally appeared at her door it was a week later.

To her dismay, the officer wasn’t surprised at all. “They said that there was history in that building,” Irizarry said. According to her, the pest control officer claimed that the apartment’s past tenants would come home to find raccoons in the house waiting for them in the living room. They would enter through the chimney.

“Would have been nice to know,” Irizarry shrugged, noting that this tidbit of information served as an answer to her previous confusion about the why apartment’s fireplace had been plastered off. Irizarry says that if she’d put two and two together she wouldn’t have moved into the apartment. She wouldn’t have had to have dealt with months of anxiety, sleep loss, days off work and potentially a stretch of illness, which she suspects could have been from inhaling raccoon feces,

“I did notice that all of us kind of got sick at one point and we thought that we were just sharing a cold around,” Irizarry explained underlining that she and her roommates had not been experiencing COVID. “The energy just wasn’t there but I feel like that was mainly from the lack of sleep.”

“I can laugh about it now but at the time, it was just super traumatizing.”

“I can laugh about it now but at the time, it was just super traumatizing.”


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raccoons can carry diseases such as Baylisascaris, leptospirosis and rabies that can spread to people. Symptoms of baylisascaris include nausea and tiredness. “Anyone who is exposed to environments where raccoons frequent is potentially at risk,” the organization states.

It wasn’t until months after the raccoon attempt to break through the kitchen, after ending her lease early, that Irizarry decided to share the footage on her Instagram stories.

“It wasn’t until after we moved that I was like ‘I need to do something with this video,’” she said. “I can laugh about it now but at the time, it was just super traumatizing. I didn’t want anybody to know. I just kind of kept it all in. And honestly, I just put it out there just for people to laugh. I look at the video every day and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe we experienced that. Maybe roaches or rats but I wouldn’t have expected raccoons in the city.’”

Hours after she shared the experience, the video was picked up by the popular Instagram page WhatIsNewYork and Irizarry’s story went viral with more than 700K views in just nine hours.

“I don’t think even 911 wants to deal (with) that,” one person commented.

Another added, “This is terrifying.”

One follower of the account joked, “They’d be like ‘Hey, we’ve been trying to reach about your car extended warranty.’”

Now, Irizarry hopes that people who hear about her story, do their due diligence in researching their future landlords and buildings.

“When we left there were still traps out around the roof,” Irizarry said. She also said that she is unsure if the landlord of her old building even fixed the problem so that the next tenants can live sans raccoons.

“I hope that they handled it the right way,” she says. “I just feel bad for the next people that are going to be living there and they’re not told that there was a problem.”