Raccoon

Raccoon

Overview

There is a single species of raccon found in North America. The Raccoon, (Procyon lotor) is common throughout North America and has even been introduced into Europe. The raccoon is often seen in urban sites where it can thrive in wooded areas with nearby sources of food.

Identification

The raccoon weighs between 8 and 20 pounds. Its grayish coat consists of dense underfur which insulates against cold weather. Raccoons have extremely dexterous front paws and a distinctive dark facial mask. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence.

Biology

Raccoons will live in the cavities of trees and in chimneys and attics of homes. Male raccoons will repeatedly mark their territory with urine and the accumulated smell can be very strong. Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat garbage, berries from trees and crab apples among other foods. Raccoons especially like feeding on the stinky fruits of female ginkgo trees.

Control

Under normal conditions the public does not want to kill raccoons. If a raccoon is behaving abnormally, either moving very slow during the day or acting aggressive then there is a possiblility that it is infected with the rabies virus. Contact your local animal control unit, police or contract with a professional wildlife control company to remove the raccoon as soon as possible. It is a good idea to send the raccoon to the state public health lab and test for rabies.

The rabies virus is transmitted through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. You can only get rabies by coming in contact with these specific bodily excretions and tissues. Even a scratch by a raccoon is serious and you should seek medical attention immediately. Rabies transmitted by raccoons is most common along the entire eastern coast of the United States. In other regions of the country skunks and foxes are more usual hosts of rabies.Any mammal can get rabies. The most common wild reservoirs of rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. Domestic mammals can also get rabies. Cats, cattle, and dogs are the most frequently reported rabid domestic animals in the United States. Rats and squirrels are not rabies carriers.

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