Skip to content

Raccoon acting strange

What to do if a raccoon is not scared of people, acting strange or is aggressive?

The only time most people see raccoons are when they are ravaging their apartment dumpster. And frankly, that’s how it should be. Raccoons are not confrontational animals. They are the social recluses of the animal kingdom. They hibernate most of the day to prepare and strategize for their public debut at night. At night, they take to the streets in search of food to sustain themselves without the burden of a social exchange. However, on occasion, they may pass through in the day. Although uncommon, this doesn’t necessarily mean the raccoon is dangerous. To contextualize it, although most of us don’t snack at 3 am in the morning (because we are hopefully sleeping), there are some who do because of jumbled sleep schedules, consecutive night shifts, or a little intoxication.

Just like us, raccoons are Pavlovian. They pick up on the routines and habits of humans to maximize their gains quickly. Therefore, if you always put your garbage out on the curb at 2pm, the raccoons will quickly learn to adjust their schedules accordingly. Does that mean they are dangerous with rabies? No, it just means they’re smart and motivated by food. Can’t say I blame them. And while rabid raccoons are more likely to have abnormal behaviors, such as wandering the street in broad daylight, that alone isn’t enough to pin them as rabid. Going back to the 3am snack example, although most people don’t eat a burrito at 3am, just because you do doesn’t mean you’re drunk. You could just be craving a Taco Bell quesarito.

A better indication for whether or not a raccoon is sick is their movement and stability. If a raccoon appears disoriented or unbalanced, they may be sick. Other symptoms of sick raccoons may include lethargic behavior, over aggression (more than their occasional “woof”), paralyzed hind legs, foaming at the mouth, and/or an extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Moral of the story here: if it seems like a raccoon’s acting weird and it is light enough for you to SEE they’re acting weird, there’s probably a good chance they’re weird, but an even better chance they’re ill.

IF THIS IS THE CASE, don’t freak out. Like I said, raccoons are the social recluses of the animal kingdom. That means even if they’re delusional, they probably aren’t going to confront you. Even in the off chance they vocalize their presence to you with a huff, grunt, or growl, don’t be alarmed. In most cases, this is only a false threat to scare you away. That being said, don’t try and play games with the raccoon. This isn’t them challenging you to give them some food, so don’t sacrifice your 3 am quesarito. They’re feeling trapped, so you’ll ease them and their aggression if you give them some space. Most importantly, make sure you call a local animal control or wildlife service to come and investigate the animal if you suspect there may be something wrong with the raccoon.