Raccoons are one of the most abundant animals in North America, and I have read some stories recently of people being attacked by them. I wanted to find out if raccoons are dangerous, and if so, what makes them attack.
Raccoons may attack if provoked or if they feel threatened. They can bite and scratch humans and cause fatal injuries to small pets. Raccoons can also cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home.
I wanted to find the best way to avoid being in danger from a raccoon and what to do if it attacks. If you want to learn more about these lovable but dangerous animals, please read on.
Why Are Raccoons Dangerous?
Raccoons are wild animals and are very good at defending themselves from predators. Raccoons have several tools to help protect them in the wild.
They have jaws that are different from humans as their jaws are hinged at the side. This means they cannot move their jaws from side to side and up and down.
Like cats, raccoons can open their mouths up and down only. This helps them rip and pull at their prey rather than grinding to eat as we do. If a raccoon bites you, then it will try to tear at you with its teeth.
Raccoons have up to forty teeth. These include four sharp canine teeth at the front of their mouth, which they use to grip their prey. The four canines at the front have the premolars behind, which get larger as they go back into the mouth of the raccoon.
Raccoons do not have opposable thumbs but do have very short sharp claws. The claws are recurved but do not retract.
Are Raccoons Aggressive?
Raccoons can sometimes be aggressive, but try to stay away from people. Under normal circumstances, they will not attack.
However, raccoons can be aggressive if they are sick, injured, or feel threatened. For example, a raccoon that has been corned in an attic, with not enough room to manoeuvre away from you, may attack.
The typical response of a raccoon is to freeze and stare. They do this to see what your next move may be.
Keeping pets safe
Raccoons can be dangerous and potentially deadly to small pets. Pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs should be kept indoors if there are raccoons in your area.
Raccoons are unlikely to attack a dog due to their size but have been known to attack and kill small dogs. Whereas other pets will try to get away from a raccoon, dogs are known to attack raccoons.
Raccoons are vicious when it comes to being attacked and will do everything they can to win a fight over a dog. The raccoon will first try to roll the dog on its back. The speed of their bites and scratches from their claws is almost overwhelming for a dog, and they will use their claws to try to take the dog’s eyes out.
The raccoon has a fierce bite, and they will use their teeth to try to get through the chest wall, leading to a collapsed lung. Raccoons are vicious at protecting themselves in a fight and will generally get the best of a small dog. Make sure you keep your dogs on a leash if in raccoon country.
What Diseases do Raccoons Carry?
Raccoons are known to carry rabies and are among the most common species in North America to carry this disease. As they have adapted to urban life, raccoons can often be seen around homes.
The raccoon in eastern and southeastern parts of the country is the most frequently reported species with rabies in the U.S. If you get bitten or scratched by a raccoon, please go to your local medical facility as soon as possible.
Raccoons that look sick or unsteady on their feet may be carrying rabies. It is a common myth that raccoons out during the day will be carrying rabies, but this is not true. While rabies causes animals to change their normal behaviour, raccoons may be out during the day for other reasons.
A female looking after her young may go out to look for food for her young. In urban areas, raccoons are often seen during the day looking for food.
Raccoons can also cause leptospirosis. This is caused by people coming into contact with the urine or faeces of raccoons. Dogs are susceptible as they are known to drink water from the ground.
Leptospirosis is also carried in the urine of rats and other wild animals. People with leptospirosis may suffer from severe headaches, muscle aches, and influenza-like symptoms. In extreme cases, the liver and kidney may suffer.
Raccoons also suffer from a roundworm, infecting humans and other animals such as cats and dogs. The roundworm is found in the droppings of raccoons. If you have raccoons in the area, children should be supervised while playing outside.
How do you Scare a Raccoon Away?
The best way to scare a raccoon away is to make yourself large, step towards it, yell and clap your hands. If this doesn’t make the raccoon back off, then throwing something in its general direction (but not at it) will typically make them run away.
If the raccoon does not respond, it may be sick or injured. Do not approach the animal, and contact your local wildlife department.
Should you be afraid of Raccoons?
Raccoons are generally not dangerous to people, but raccoons that are sick, injured, or even protecting their young can attack. Raccoons are more likely to attack a cat or small pet over you or your dog but will fight fiercely and to the death to protect themselves.
Although a raccoon that visits your yard may seem cute and not initially dangerous, it can cause damage. Destroyed flower beds, overturned trash cans, stolen fruits and vegetables are broken bird feeders are just the start of your problems.
Raccoons can get bolder in time if not adequately scared away. A raccoon that has got used to seeing you staring at them may move from your yard into your home.
Along with the problems with the diseases they carry, once a raccoon gets into your house, it can cause extensive damage costing thousands of dollars.
Raccoons can destroy your property from the inside. They will chew through pipes and cables, causing plumbing and electrical issues, leading to floods or fires. They will also eat and trample insulation, destroy air ducts, and damage the roof or walls.
To find a way into the property, raccoons may tear away wooden planks or take tiles off the roof.
The next problem is with faeces. Wherever the raccoon makes their den in your house will be contaminated, and with the risk of raccoon roundworm, this can be hazardous to your health.
How to Keep Raccoons Away From Your Home?
Raccoons are attracted to one thing in and around your home: food. To keep raccoons away from your property, you need to secure any food sources.
Trash can – Raccoons have a great sense of smell, and the rotting matter in your bin will smell fantastic to them. Keep your trash can sealed with a lid and not leave trash bags around the yard.
Raccoons are known to knock over trash cans even if sealed. The best way to combat this is to secure your trash can against a fence post or a pole to stop the raccoon from knocking them over.
Several products can help secure your trash can from animals. The straps that I use fit my trash can perfectly, unlike the bungee cord I was using that would fly off.
Pet Food – Make sure to bring in all pet food at night to stop raccoons from coming into your yard and eating it. If you feed your pets outside, leave the food and their food bowls outside only while eating.
Fruit and nuts – Raccoons love fruit, and they are happy to eat the fruit and nuts that have recently fallen from trees. Make sure to pick up any fruit or nuts from the ground to stop raccoons from coming into your yard.
Bird feeders – Raccoons will happily eat the nuts and seeds from bird feeders. Unique feeders can be purchased, but if this is not an option, it is best to bring them in at night if you have raccoons.
The bird feeder that I use is the Woodland absolute squirrel resistant bird feeder. I purchased this one because it has a fantastic system where if a heavy animal such as a raccoon or squirrel sits on it, the access to the food is closed.
If you already have a bird feeder, I would recommend the Squirrel guard baffle, which stops raccoons and other animals from getting to the food.
Raccoons are great creatures but can be dangerous to pets and humans. It is best to keep raccoons away from your property, and I hope these tips will help you.