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.
Table of Contents
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 aggressively.
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 React To 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.
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Do Raccoons Attack Humans and Our Pets (Cats, Dogs, and Other)? | Information and Facts - Pest Samurai? ›
Raccoons can be just as dangerous to pets as they are to humans. According to The Humane Society of America, raccoons will not attack dogs but if caught or attacked by a dog, they may fight back. The Humane Society also says raccoons can prey upon kittens and small cats for food.Do raccoons attack human? ›
Raccoons are dangerous to people and pets when cornered or protecting their young. Even if a raccoon seems calm or friendly, residents should never approach a wild animal. Most people know they are a rabies vector species. Both healthy raccoons or sick raccoons can attack, but a rabid raccoon is more likely to attack.Are raccoons friendly to humans? ›
Raccoons can be aggressive and might bite anyone — including family, pets, strangers, and other animals. Adult raccoons, if not domesticated, can become aggressive as young as six months old. Some raccoons may be curious and friendly with people. Other raccoons may be skittish and flee when approached.Will racoons attack cats? ›
Finally, raccoons do attack cats when threatened. Mother raccoons are highly aggressive in protecting their young. If a raccoon and cat came in contact with each other, a fight is almost a given. Cats are very territorial, and they will fight to protect their space.Do raccoons eat or attack cats? ›
Raccoons are generally Omnivores, thus they can consume backyard grapes and even leftovers from birds, and pets. They can move from one house to another, searching for foods in the gardens and parks but when they find none, then they attack other smaller animals, especially kittens and dogs.Will a raccoon attack a dog? ›
According to The Humane Society of America, raccoons will not attack dogs but if caught or attacked by a dog, they may fight back. The Humane Society also says raccoons can prey upon kittens and small cats for food. Raccoons can also prey upon chickens and rabbits.Is it OK to touch a raccoon? ›
This can cause them to have harmful bacteria on their fur. It is not a good idea to touch a raccoon, even if it is harmless. Next to bats, raccoons are most frequently linked to reported rabies cases in the United States. All it takes is a single bite.Is it bad to have raccoons on your property? ›
Threats. In addition to rabies, there are other harmful diseases that raccoons can carry and potentially transmit to humans, including raccoon roundworm, which is an intestinal parasite. This is transmitted through unintentionally ingesting a microscopic roundworm egg. Raccoons also pose a serious property threat.Do cats fear raccoons? ›
There have been a few confirmed stories of raccoons attacking small kittens, but adult cats have little to fear from raccoons.Will possums attack cats? ›
The opossum will eat fresh meat or carrion and is often seen feeding on road kill. Opossums do not prey on cats or other larger mammals but will attack them if cornered, or if competing for food. Opossums cause loss to home gardens by eating nuts, berries, fruits, and grapes.
Raccoons are not picky eaters, so they will also enjoy other animals like rats and mice. Keep in mind that they will not actively hunt these animals. Consequently, they will enjoy the opportunity to kill and eat mice, rats, cats, snakes, birds, or fish if the opportunity presented itself.Will fox eat cats? ›
Do foxes eat or attack cats, dogs or other pets? A typical adult cat is almost the same size as a fox and has a well-deserved reputation for self-defense, so foxes are generally uninterested in taking on cats. Kittens and very small (less than five pounds) adult cats, however, could be prey for a fox.Do owls eat cats? ›
The answer is yes, Great Horned Owls do on rare occasions attempt to catch and kill small cats and very small dogs. They are not always successful in attempts to kill them, but pets can wind up with significant injuries if they survive an attack.Will raccoons eat chickens? ›
Raccoons are omnivores, they eat both animals and plants. Therefore, it is common for them to eat small animals like chickens, eggs, and chicks. Once they know there's food accessible, they are more willing to keep trying for it.Will raccoons attack you if they see you? ›
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.
If a raccoon approaches too closely, make yourself appear larger: stand up, shout, and wave your arms. If it continues to approach, throw or spray water, or even stones if needed. A raccoon that is very aggressive–or too tame, or seems to be disoriented or staggers may be sick or injured.What happens if a raccoon bites you? ›
If you've been bitten by a raccoon, it's important that you seek medical attention immediately. You should also wash the wound with soap and warm water for at least five minutes. Doctors will treat the wound and administer post-exposure prophylaxis, a vaccine that treats the effects of raccoon bites or scratches.