Raccoons are cute, fluffy animals. They look so adorable and charming, but are they dangerous? What will you do if you see a raccoon? Is it safe to approach them? Should you feed them or make them one of your pets?
Do raccoons attack humans and our pets? They don’t attack humans and other animals unless it is a rabid one. Raccoons are not aggressive unless you threaten, corner, attack, or try to pick them up. If you try to touch their babies, the mother raccoon will likely attack you. So, if you happen to see a raccoon in your yard, just leave it alone.
Raccoons may look calm and friendly; however, they can be dangerous. In some cases, raccoons will back off when confronted with loud noises, but this is not always a guarantee that you are safe. Different situations motivate them to attack you or your pet, so be wary of them.
In this article, we’ll explain the reasons why raccoons attack humans and our pets. This article will also discuss what you should do if raccoon attacks, as well as ways to avoid them.
Are Raccoons Aggressive?
Typically, certain situations trigger them to attack. For example, raccoons attack when they are sick, cornered, threatened, or want to defend their young. The last three circumstances fall under the category of protection since healthy raccoons only attack to protect themselves or their offspring. Any other way, raccoons will simply run.
So, why should you be afraid of raccoons? Sometimes raccoons simply want to escape from bad situations. That is why they act in such a way that people will be afraid of them. You might think that it will attack you when all the raccoon wants is to escape.
However, if the raccoon is cornered, threatened, or wants to protect her offspring, it will be an entirely different situation.
Why Raccoons Attack Humans?
One of the reasons why healthy raccoons attack people is because the person wants to catch or tame the raccoon. Raccoons will feel threatened when they are trapped in a small space. As a result, they tend to bite or scratch.
People are usually scratched or bitten by a raccoon when they try to keep them as a pet or hand feed them. If you are scratched or bitten by a raccoon, then you should go to the doctor immediately.
Why Raccoons Attack Cats, Dogs, and Other Pets?
Dogs, cats, and other pets can also make raccoons act aggressively. For instance, if a dog or cat trapped a raccoon in a corner, the raccoon would fight back. The fact is raccoons often attack pets rather than humans.
However, when it comes to mother raccoons, they can easily get aggressive in protecting their young. If you attempt to approach the raccoon’s den, it can make the mother raccoon act aggressive.
Raccoons also prey on smaller animals if they do not have any other foods available. Although they might find it hard to catch larger animals, raccoons will prey on smaller ones, such as kittens. Most often, you might see raccoons eating together with your dog or cat, especially when you are feeding your pets outside.
Can Dogs Attack Raccoons?
Raccoons and dogs are considered mortal enemies. It is because these two animals can’t get along. However, when both the raccoon and the dog are trained properly, it is possible that they could coexist.
There was an incident back in November 2018 when a raccoon suddenly attacked a domestic dog. While the dog was walking in the yard, the raccoon quickly appeared from the tree and attacked the dog. The raccoon was killed by the dog’s owner, but unfortunately, they found out that the raccoon had rabies. After all, the dog had been vaccinated against rabies, thus the story had a happy ending.
As we mentioned before, a sick raccoon will likely attack. In addition, it will attack humans or pets even if they are not aggravated, most especially raccoons with rabies. If you were not bitten or scratched by a raccoon, most likely, you will not be infected by rabies. However, if your pet or family member has been attacked or bitten by a raccoon, then you should bring them to the doctor immediately.
Can Cats Attack Raccoons?
It is rare to see raccoons and cats fight, but it does happen. Generally, raccoons avoid cats, and cats will simply ignore raccoons. However, if the cat chases the raccoon, the raccoon will not back off, and these two animals will engage in a fight. Unfortunately, the cat will usually get defeated by the raccoon.
The raccoons love eating pet food. Hence, leaving your cat’s food outside could cause a conflict between the cat and the raccoon. So be sure to bring your pet’s food inside before nighttime. Also, try to keep your cats inside at night to prevent the raccoons from attacking them.
How to Stop the Raccoon From Fighting Your Pet?
Most often, when raccoons hear the sounds of humans or dogs, they will run away, or they will just run off. It is rare that raccoons will get into a fight with a dog, and they will avoid it if possible.
- Keep yourself protected by wearing jeans, a thick jacket, and thick gloves. This is to prevent the raccoon from biting or scratching you.
- Grab a rake, shovel, bat, or any long, strong objects and use this to separate the two animals. Try to push the raccoon away from your dog rather than the other way around.
- You don’t have to be aggressive. Instead of hurting the raccoon, try to concentrate on removing it away from your dog.
How Dangerous Are Raccoons?
The size of a raccoon is about the same as a house cat or even larger. Raccoons are chunky and strong. Once they feel threatened by humans or pets, they will immediately attack using their teeth and sharp claws. That is why you mustn’t leave your dogs, cats, and other pets unattended outdoors, most especially in areas where you suspect the presence of a raccoon.
Raccoons carry deadly diseases which pose a threat to humans. In addition, they are known to be vectors for rabies, and their waste has parasites.
Raccoons Are Not Always Dangerous
Most often, you cannot prevent encounters with raccoons since they are almost everywhere. Raccoons are both aggressive and bold. Although even when they are aware of the presence of humans, they are not likely to attack under normal circumstances.
How Should You React With Bold Raccoons?
Sometimes raccoons are bold, perhaps because of their frequent encounters with humans. Normally, when you see a bold raccoon, it will gaze at you and wait for your next move. If the raccoons in your community are bold, then most probably because they get food from your neighbors.
Shouting at them, moving towards them, or clapping your hands should be enough to scare them away. If these will not work, you could try throwing tennis balls, spraying in their direction, or making loud noises.
How Should You Do React With Aggressive Raccoons?
Although a healthy raccoon will not attack you, they sometimes bluff you when they are cornered or threatened. Raccoons do this because they want you to leave them alone. Therefore, if you happen to encounter an aggressive raccoon, then you should back off a bit. Give them some room to escape.
Should You Feed Raccoons?
You should not feed raccoons. Raccoons can survive by themselves since they are good at finding food. Therefore, they do not need your help even during the winter.
However, if you feed raccoons, it can make them bolder. As a result, the more they will approach humans, which can be very dangerous. Remember that not all humans like raccoons!
How to Prevent Encounters With Raccoons?
There are a lot of ways to prevent raccoons from entering your homes or gardens.
- Raccoons usually look for food in garbage cans. Hence, you should make sure that your garbage cans are tightly secured. To prevent them from tipping it over, tie your garbage can to a post or place them in a rack.
- Avoid leaving any pet food outside your home. Try to remove them before nighttime.
- Do not give food to the raccoons and tell your neighbors not to do so as well.
- Eliminate any woodpiles or any other materials that could become a possible den for raccoons.
- Remove any possible access to the roof, such as tree branches.
- Use devices or gadgets that can frighten raccoons, such as water-squirting devices.
- Avoid approaching raccoons at all times.
- Raccoons could enter pet doors, so always keep them locked, most especially at night.
- Avoid putting leftovers in open compost sites. If you want to put food in your compost site, then be sure to cover it properly.
How to Know the Presence of Raccoons in Your Home?
If the raccoons have already entered your property, then you will notice that your compost piles and gardens have been destroyed or your garbage cans have been flipped over. You will hear scratching noises, most often in the attic, if they have managed to get inside your home.
What Should You Do When a Raccoon Has Entered Your Property?
If you spot a raccoon near your home, do not try to trap or catch it. Instead, you must call the experts since raccoons can be very dangerous.
List of Sources
Watler, K. (2018). Rabid Raccoon Attacks Domestic Dog. Florida Department of Health.
Link, R. (2004). Raccoons. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Salmon, T. P., Whisson, D. A., Marsh, R. E. (2006). Raccoons. University of California.