What Are the Dangers of Raccoons?

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Racoons Can Transmit Diseases to People and Pets
Racoons Can Transmit Diseases to People and Pets (Image: NA/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Raccoons can pose many hazards to household pets, people, homes and gardens, and other wild animals. People can help to prevent problems with raccoons by securing all outside garbage and feeding pets inside (outdoor dishes, both food and water, can attract raccoons). If raccoons around a home become a nuisance, home owners should contact the nearest Fish & Wildlife facility or Humane Society for assistance as soon as possible.

Dangers to Household Pets

Raccoons can carry a number of parasites and diseases which can be transmitted to cats and dogs. The most common types of parasites and diseases that raccoons may carry, and which pose a risk include: rabies, distemper, roundworm, mange, leptospirosis, fleas, ticks and coccidiosis. To help protect animals from contact with raccoons, cats and dogs should be vaccinated against rabies, dogs should have up-to-date distemper and leptospirosis vaccinations and outdoor pets should be kept indoors at night.

Dangers to Adults and Children

Raccoons can also transmit parasites and diseases to adults and children. When transmissions occur, they usually occur as a result of coming into contact with a raccoon. Raccoons will bite or scratch if they are backed into a corner or if people or children try to handle or pick them up; rabies, leptospirosis and parasites such as mange can be transmitted to people from direct contact with raccoons. Raccoons can also leave worm eggs in their environment, particularly roundworm eggs, which children can ingest through eating dirt or soil. Children may also be scratched or bitten by raccoons if they try to feed raccoons by hand.

Dangers to Homes and Gardens

Raccoons can cause extensive damage to gardens and homes. When raccoons create a nest, they like a safe, sheltered and warm place; if homes are not protected against outside animals, raccoons can tear up attics, chimneys and even foundations. To keep raccoons out of homes, all access and venting points around the bottom of the home, and in the attic, should have screen covers; chimneys should have screen covers as well to keep wildlife out.

To protect gardens from raccoons, all foods should be harvested as soon as they are ready; any foods which have fallen to the ground need to be removed immediately. A fence around the garden, and night lighting, can also help to reduce raccoon visitors.

Dangers to Other Animals

Raccoons are predators, and they have been known to attack and kill fowl; they also eat eggs. People who are raising fowl need to be particularly vigilant to keep raccoons out of the area and to keep fowl safe at night. Eggs laid outside and inside of the fowl housing area should be picked up as soon as possible as any eggs lying around can attract raccoons. In natural habitats, raccoons can affect populations of turtles by eating the turtle eggs, and nesting waterfowl by eating eggs and attacking the birds.

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