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Raccoons - Cute, But Potentially Dangerous!

Raccoon climbing in tree

We all enjoy seeing wildlife up close, but some animals shouldn't be touched with the proverbial ten foot pole. Take the raccoon for instance. It's the state animal in Tennessee, looks cute and cuddly, but raccoons can cause many problems for home and business owners.

Besides the fact that raccoons are a rabies vector species (carrier of the rabies virus), raccoons can also carry canine distemper.

Both distemper and rabies have similar symptoms, including staggered gait when walking, crusting around the eyes, disorientation and a lack of fear of humans. Any mammal, be it raccoon, opossum, fox, etc. exhibiting these characteristics should be avoided, and a wildlife expert should be contacted for safe removal of the animal.

One of the lesser known pitfalls of close contact with raccoons is the possibility of being exposed to raccoon roundworm.

Raccoon roundworm is a parasite that lives inside the raccoon but seldom affects the host raccoon. The main concern is the roundworm eggs, or larvae, which are deposited in the raccoon feces. Humans or pets may be exposed to the larvae if they inadvertently come into contact with these raccoon droppings.

At greatest risk are young children, who having a tendency to put foreign objects into their mouth, are more susceptible to ingesting the larvae. The larvae are able to remain viable in droppings for many years, so even seemingly dried-up feces should be handled with extreme care. Boiling water is often used to clean soiled wooden or concrete surfaces such as decks and patios, and contaminated sand in sand boxes should be carefully discarded and replaced. Areas in the yard where there are raccoon droppings can be burned with a torch to remove eggs that may have been deposited onto the ground.

Raccoons are increasingly being found in suburban and industrial areas. Raccoons are attracted to food sources such as cat food and dog food that is left out overnight, and bird feeders, trash cans and dumpsters. The raccoon tends to look for a den site close to these food sources, and in many cases this can be your home's attic or crawlspace.

Over the years, our company has removed hundreds of raccoons from attics and crawlspaces, including 13 raccoons from one attic and crawlspace of an iconic, late, great country music artist near Nashville. The smell in these areas can be unbelievable!

The bottom line is if you have raccoons visiting your property, or you suspect you have a raccoon living in your attic or crawlspace, call an expert for immediate removal!


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