baby raccoon behavior

Bella Vista, AR(Zone 6b)

I heard a noise on my back deck and found two baby raccoons out there. I guess they were trying to get my bird seed. ANYWAY, I went to scare them off and they were not afraid of me. That kind of scared me into thinking that the momma was nearby and I know that raccoons can be vicious. I captured this picture and then skedaddled inside. I don't know if they were just too young to react (they didn't even hiss) or if they couldn't figure out how to safely get down, or they were waiting on momma. Anyone know raccoon behavior?

Thumbnail by JulieQ
Huntersville, NC

raccoons are usually seen in evening hours or at night.
they are omnivores, like humans, eat both plant and animal.
that is why they often scour our trash bins, we both eat similar things.

it is considered 'unusual' to see them during daylight and more unusual for the young to show no fear of humans.
however both behaviors could be attributed to an untimely demise of the mom-raccoon.

btw - mom probably was now-where to be found
- to permit young to be so close to an unknown human could have resulted in mom attacking you . . .
caution around wild life babies is safer!
small and cute - but Ferocious if they think their young is in danger.

. . .and they DO enjoy bird seed! sunflower seeds do well!

Lecanto, FL(Zone 9a) I just read this article and it was very good, interesting. I've seen racoon but they stay away from us because I have dog pee in my yard. Only if you corner one will it attack you. They are afraid of you and will run away if they see you. You should be proud that you have been visited by them. If your trash cans are secure and there is no food source they will move on.
My dad's yard gets racoon and possum. He used to leave catfood out for the cats and at night we'd hear a noise, turn on the porch lite and see them squinting, wondering who turned on the lites. The cats would sit there and watch them.
My neighbor has a catdoor to her porch where she feeds her cats and a racoon finishes up the food each nite. She doesn't mind.
So far I've had chickens, eggs and baby chicks all untouched by racoons but there could be trouble at any time. Maybe they have enough food out there in the woods.
Raccoons are born with the rabies but people raise them anyway. I think only if the raccoon's ammune system is compromised do they get the disease.
Please keep the attitude that it is their land that you have moved onto and they are willing to share. Cute picture by the way.

Raleigh, NC

Great article, wormfood. Just one thought, though. Raccoons aren't "born with Rabies." They catch it like any other animal, but due to their lifestyle and physiology are, in most places, one of the animals that has the highest rates of infection. This could also be due to the fact that they tend to live where we live, so are noticed, captured and tested more frequently than other animals. Foxes, coyotes, bats etc--also animals that easily adapt to living near humans--also have high (confirmed) rates of infection in many locales. You should never handle a wild raccoon--including babies--for this reason. You're right--they can be really aggressive if protecting babies or cornered.

Lecanto, FL(Zone 9a)

We had an expert come on one of our lessons, but it's been many years so they might have learned more since then. The volunteers "assigned" to the racoon care were vaccinated for rabies. I think it was a series of 3 shots.

NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

Raccoons won't necessarily run from humans. Many have been around humans for quite a while and are very, very bold! Don't feed them unless you want an ongoing relationship with possibly a whole family hanging around all the time. I won't be making that mistake again...ever!

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

Maybe the expert was talking about a rabid, pregnant raccoon passing the disease on to her babies, in the womb. Obviously if there's no exposure, the baby won't just spontaneously be born with the disease.

Raleigh, NC

Yes, anytime you deal with domestic or wild animals, you should be vaccinated for Rabies. Its a series of 3 shots, then if you get bitten you get 2 additional shots just to ensure you have full immunity.

Westerly, RI

that is an adorable picture.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

do you know how long the series is good for I had it about 5 years ago agter a dog bite

Raleigh, NC

BirdieBlue--its not "good' for any particular length of time i.e. the length/level of protection varies person to person. If you feel you are still at risk of contracting rabies (i.e. you are exposed to animals that might carry it) just ask your doctor to check your titer to the rabies virus. A titer is basically a measurement of how your body responds to exposure to the virus. It reflects the level of immunity still remaining from your previous vaccine. Simple to do--just a blood sample--but may not be covered by your insurance.

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

JulieQ, other posters have given you good information here, so I can only add my two cents' worth from working in animal control for some years. The photo is adorable, and shows an apparently very healthy, very young raccoon; and I can tell you from experience that raccoons with rabies typically act and look very ill and abnormal. However, it is never either wise or safe to closely approach or especially to corner any wild animal; they will defend themselves if they can't escape, just as we would in the same circumstances.

Raccoons have adapted beautifully to living around humans; they exist all around us in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, and we often are unaware of their presence until they bring themselves to our attention in some way - as by raiding bird feeders, pet food, trash cans, and ponds, which are among their favorite scavenging sites. They are often active in daylight or twilight, and this alone is not a sign of illness. Raccoons do not instinctively fear humans; their mothers typically teach the young to be very cautious around humans and dogs, both species being responsible for a lot of injury and/or death for their species. It's quite possible that the two young ones you saw are orphaned, or that mother was watching them from a distance; if the mother was present, you did nothing to threaten the babies, so she'd have seen no reason to risk intervening.

If you want to deter them from visiting your property, you need to remove all food sources, at least during dark hours; the bird feeders especially need to be brought inside, put in garage, etc. for the night. Like most of us, raccoons are creatures of habit; once they find a reliable food source, they will continue to visit. If removing the feeders is not practical, you can spray the seed with a taste repellent like Ropel or tabasco sauce; the birds won't mind, the raccoons certainly will. Put something heavy like a cinder block on your trash cans or curb-side dumpster; raccoons are amazingly good with front paw manual dexterity, and can make a mess of trash in their search for food. If you can consistently eliminate the food sources around your home, they will move on in search of greener pastures.

The bottom line is that I would not panic about the fear of rabies or attack by a mother raccoon as long as you keep your distance from the young ones. Yes, theoretically female raccoons can pass the virus to the young in their uterus, assuming they live long enough to deliver. But this is unlikely, and it's even more unlikely that the young would survive to the age in your photo without succumbing to the disease. And in any case, transmission to anyone else would require very close contact, usually a bite or other immediate contact between the saliva of an infected raccoon to the broken skin of a new animal or person. You simply need to decide if you want to discourage the raccoons from visiting your property; if you do, as do most people, you need to make it unattractive by removing all food sources for quite some time, until they get discouraged and move elsewhere in their daily foraging.

Good luck, and please keep us posted-

Westerly, RI

If its rabies your worried about just call a nature canter to relocate them. They catch them, quarinteen them while they are undergoing testing. If negative they relocate them

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Iluvcatz, I'm confused. Sent lots of animals for rabies testing in my years in animal control, and the animal always had to be euthanized. The test is performed on brain tissue, so I don't quite see how it could be run on a living animal. If they've discovered a way to do so in the last few years, that's a huge advance and more than welcome.

Westerly, RI

they dont euthanize dogs right away do they? I rember a case around here where a pet dog killed a fox that tested positave. The local shelter quarinteened the dog for around 2 months while tests where being done.

Maby they where keeping the dog for obsorvation, I'm not sure. After all I am still learning.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

they quarantined for observation. If the animal ( or person) has been infected the symptoms will show up within a few short weeks. 2 months of Quarantine without any symptoms assures the subject t be free from the virus.
Sparta is correct, there is no test other than the testing of brain tissue.

Bella Vista, AR(Zone 6b)

Thank you all for your informative responses. I have not seen the darlings again since that night.
Because of their exploring on my deck (and also because of the abundance of squirrels) I have been putting out only enough birdseed for daylight hours.

I have lots of wildlife since I live on the edge of a woods. These guys have to have been the CUTEST!

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Julie, baby raccoons are too cute, aren't they? They look so darn clever, and in this their looks don't deceive a bit.

Iluvcatz, you're absolutely right about the dog quarantine. If a dog or cat contacts an animal who tested positive for rabies, the domestic animal is quarantined from one to six months, depending on state law and the animal's vaccine status. The problem for wildlife is that no test have been done to conclusively determine the incubation period for rabies in all species, so wildlife is not quarantined - just euthanized and tested for rabies. The law is understandably very very conservative on the subject of rabies, since it is a disease that can be prevented with vaccines but is invariably fatal once contracted. With owned domestic animals, however, the law takes owners' emotions into consideration, and allows the animal to be quarantined at owner expense.

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