How To Tell If A Raccoon Is Rabid

Posted on January 11, 2022

Here is everything you need to know about identifying a rabid raccoon.

More often than not, raccoons are uninvited and unwanted guests to your home. Like bats, skunks, squirrels, and other wild animals, raccoons are known to be a source of property damage and can cause you to worry about the overall safety of your family and pets. As a homeowner, this can be annoying and frustrating. But, the invasion of these pests can even turn dangerous if you find yourself having to deal with a rabid raccoon.

Raccoons are considered wild animals and can sometimes carry the rabies virus. This is known as a rabies vector species (RVS).

In many places around the world, the raccoon is classified as an RVS, meaning that it has the ability to carry rabies and transmit rabies, as well as other diseases. While all mammals have that same capability, raccoons do so at a higher risk.

Since Ontario has a significant population of this wild animal and there’s a good chance a person or pets can come into contact with it, it’s important to identify and differentiate between rabid raccoons and healthy ones. The last thing you want to deal with is a raccoon bite.

What is rabies and how do you prevent it?

Two young raccoons peeking out of Burlington rooftop

Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through direct contact, such as the bite of rabid animals. When bitten, the virus then infects the central nervous system, which causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, and ultimately leads to death. Even though the disease is most common in wildlife, contracting rabies is still possible for humans.

If you think there’s a chance you have been exposed, it is crucial to contact public health and seek medical attention immediately. Doing so will allow you to get a series of shots that could prevent the infection from advancing.

What is the difference between a healthy raccoon and a sick raccoon?

While healthy raccoons can undoubtedly harass people and other animals, ones with rabies symptoms still pose a greater threat. In order to protect yourself, your family and your pets, it is important to recognize the signs, Here are the five most common signs of a potentially rabid raccoon:

It looks sick

Just like humans, sometimes wildlife can simply show signs of sickness and disease. If the raccoon looks tired or unwell, never risk coming into contact with it. Doing so can be the reason you contract rabies.

It’s foaming at the mouth

This is one of the most common and easily identifiable symptoms of rabies and is a sign of an infected animal. It’s crucial to call your local animal control or disease control to have the raccoon quickly and efficiently removed from your property.

It’s making uncommon noises

It is normal for a raccoon to make noises, but it isn’t a good sign if the animal begins making strange noises. Not only is it annoying for humans and dogs, but it is also one of the most identifiable signs of rabies.

It looks confused and disorientated

When healthy, most raccoons usually appear active and intelligent. If a raccoon does look disorientated, be sure to leave a safe distance as the wildlife animal can turn aggressive as a defence mechanism.
Young playful raccoon clinging to tree branch

It is partially paralyzed

In any mammal, paralysis in the leg can be a symptom of rabies. If you notice raccoons have difficulty walking, there is a good chance they have a rabies infection.

Don't attempt to get rid of raccoons on your own

If you find yourself in a situation where any type of wildlife has infiltrated your home, whether it’s bats or raccoons, the best thing you can do is contact a wildlife expert. More often than not, these animals are just looking for more food sources but can quickly turn aggressive if they feel they are being threatened.

There are also many common mistakes people make when trying to remove a raccoon from their home. There is a specific way to undertake raccoon removal and it is best to leave that to wildlife control. Wildside Wildlife Removal & Prevention offers expert humane raccoon removal services in Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Oakville and Waterdown. The professional team strives to ensure the safety of everyone in your home, as well as the wildlife animal. Generally, if you have a raccoon on your property that is rabid, the Ontario SPCA will handle the situation to ensure your utmost safety.