Raccoons are cute from a distance but they aren’t suitable as pets so you shouldn’t try to treat them like a stray cat that you can tame. And, like the popular character Rocket Raccoon, they can be dangerous in certain circumstances.
Do raccoons attack people?
Generally, no. Healthy raccoons will not attack people. However, they can be curious and come close to you. If spooked, they could then bite or scratch in self-defense. It’s best to leave raccoons alone because they are wild animals.
Sometimes a raccoon will bluff if they feel threatened or cornered. That could involve growling, grunting, huffing, standing up aggressively to appear larger or even “charging” at you. It’s generally a bluff, but why risk it? Leave raccoons alone and give them space if you encounter one though, if it broke into your home, you’ll need help to get rid of it.
Can raccoons transmit rabies?
Yes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raccoons (along with red foxes, skunks, bats and gray foxes) are the main carriers of rabies in the United States. Technically any warm-blooded animal, including humans, can carry rabies but those five species are considered “rabies vector species.” However, rabies is treatable and according to the CDC only one person has ever died from rabies transmitted by a raccoon.
How can you tell if a raccoon has rabies?
People say that raccoons seen in the daylight must have rabies because raccoons are nocturnal but that’s a myth. Despite being nocturnal, raccoons can be out in the daytime because:
- They’re still foraging for food since dark
- Easy food is only available in the daytime, like pet food when the dog is inside
- They’re moving or seeking a new safe place to live
However, certain signs can indicate that a raccoon has rabies, including:
- Discharge from their eyes or mouth
- Wet and matted facial fur
- It makes repeated high-pitched sounds
- Oblivious to noise or movement that would normally startle it.
- Erratic wandering
Are raccoons dangerous any other ways?
Raccoons can cause property damage and even fires by chewing wiring. Raccoons that get into a home can cause a lot of damage to walls, ceilings, wiring, wood work, and more.
Additionally, raccoons can carry raccoon roundworm and shed it in its feces. Raccoon roundworm can infect both people and pets. Leptospirosis is a bacterium that can also infect raccoons, skunks and opossums. Humans can be exposed to it through urine, water or soil infected by raccoons carrying the bacteria.
Do raccoons kill cats?
Raccoon and cat fights are not common but can happen. In general, cats tend to ignore raccoons and raccoons frequently avoid cats. If, however, a cat is chasing a raccoon then the furry bandit will defend itself – especially if cornered – and the fight could go badly for the cat.
Raccoons also love dog and cat food. So, if you feed your cat outside and leave the food out overnight, the cat and raccoon could eventually come into conflict. If possible, feed your cat indoors (and consider keeping your cat indoors all the time). At the very least, bring in your pet’s food before sunset if you do still feed them outside.
What should I do if I find raccoons on my property?
In New York State, raccoons have legal protection. That means they can only be trapped and transported by those licensed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, such as Arrow Exterminating. In the meantime, keep garbage tightly sealed and don’t leave pet food outside – both can attract raccoons.
Let Arrow Exterminating Handle Raccoons
The best way to deal with a raccoon is to call in the professionals at Arrow Exterminating. If you have a raccoon problem or are concerned about them this winter, let us help you get back to living in a critter-free environment. To get started, contact Arrow Exterminating today.