What To Do If A Raccoon Bites You

Table of Contents

What do I do if a raccoon bites or scratches me?

If you are bitten or scratched by a raccoon it’s important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Clean the Wound: Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water as soon as possible. Cleaning the will help reduce the risk of infection.
  2. Apply Antiseptic: After cleaning the wound, apply an antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to disinfect the area.
  3. Control Bleeding: If the wound is bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or bandage to control the bleeding.
  4. Seek Medical Attention: It’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly after a raccoon attack. A medical professional will be able to effectively clean the wound and reduce the risk of infection. They will also be able to assess your risk for rabies and other diseases and decide if a rabies vaccine or other treatments are needed.

Safety Tip

Report the Attack: It’s a good idea to report a raccoon attack especially if you suspect the raccoon has a disease. Most Canadian cities have a hotline or online form you can fill out.

Remember that raccoons are wild animals, and interacting with them can be dangerous. It’s essential to take precautions to avoid encounters and bites. If you come across a raccoon that appears sick, aggressive, or unusually bold, it’s best to contact local animal control authorities to handle the situation.

How can you prevent raccoon attacks?

Minimizing interactions with raccoons is essential to prevent potential attacks, though this is easier said than done in many of Canada’s largest cities. Toronto, in particular, has earned the nickname “raccoon capital of the world” because of the massive size of their raccoon population. Here are our best tips for reducing your contact with raccoons and keeping raccoons off your property: 

  • Do Not Feed Raccoons: Feeding raccoons from your hand is extremely dangerous and can cause hungry raccoons to exhibit aggressive behaviour towards you. Leaving food out for raccoons on your porch is also a bad idea as it habituates them to human presence and increases the likelihood of bold and aggressive behaviour in the future.
  • Secure Garbage Bins: Raccoons are attracted to food and view open garbage cans as a delicious buffet. Raccoons are also notorious for using their nimble hands to open closed bins or even undo bungee cords. There are many raccoon lock products available at your local hardware store if you are having trouble keeping raccoons out of your trash. 
  • Don’t Leave out Pet Food: If you have pets that eat outdoors make sure to bring in their food bowls after feeding. Leaving pet food outside can attract raccoons. It is also an easy way for raccoons to spread diseases to your pets
  • Seal Entry Points: Ensure that your home is secure and seal any possible entry points. 
  • Keep Yard Clean: Remove any potential hiding spots, such as brush piles or tall grass, where raccoons might take shelter.
  • Contact Wildlife Control: If you have persistent issues with raccoons on your property contact your local wildlife control professionals for assistance. 
Raccoon Infographic

What should you do if you encounter a raccoon?

While raccoons are generally not aggressive, it’s important to approach the situation with caution to avoid any potential conflicts or risks. Here’s what you should do if you encounter a raccoon:

  • Give the Raccoon Space: Raccoons are wild animals, and they may become defensive if they feel threatened. Give the raccoon plenty of space and avoid approaching it.
  • Do Not Corner the Raccoon: If a raccoon feels trapped or cornered, it may become defensive and potentially aggressive. Provide an open path for the raccoon to escape.
  • Stay Calm and Quiet: Maintain a calm demeanour and speak softly. Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises that might startle the raccoon.

What diseases can you get from raccoons? Can you get rabies from a raccoon?

Raccoons can carry various diseases that may pose a risk to humans and other animals including but not limited to rabies, salmonella, leptospirosis, and roundworms. Some of these diseases such as rabies can be transferred through saliva to humans from a raccoon bite. While others such as roundworms are transferred through contact with raccoon feces. This is why it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you have come into close contact with a raccoon, especially if you have sustained a bite or scratch.


What is rabies?

Rabies is a serious disease caused by the rabies virus. The rabies virus is typically transmitted to humans through the saliva of infected animals, most commonly through bites. Wild animals like bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks are common carriers, but domestic animals like dogs can also transmit the virus. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system, leading to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The disease progresses in stages, starting with the initial symptoms, which can be flu-like, such as fever, headache, and fatigue. As the virus advances, more serious neurological symptoms can develop, including anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, paralysis and even death. 

Though raccoons are one of the most common carriers of rabies in Canada, rabid raccoons are still quite rare and deaths from rabies are even rarer. Only 25 Canadians have died from rabies in the past 100 years. To put that into perspective the World Health Organization estimates that there are 60,000 human deaths from rabies every year in Africa and Asia. All this to say if you have been bitten by a raccoon in Canada don’t panic but seek medical attention immediately.

How do you know if a raccoon is rabid?

Identifying rabies in raccoons can be challenging as the signs can vary widely however, some potential signs that a raccoon may be infected with rabies include:

  • Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Overly aggressive behaviour
  • Disoriented or confused behaviour 
  • Activity in the middle of the day
  • Difficulty walking or moving

It’s important to note that these signs alone may not definitively indicate rabies, as other illnesses or injuries can cause similar behaviours. If you observe a raccoon displaying any unusual or aggressive behaviour, it’s best to keep a safe distance and contact local wildlife control professionals for assistance. 


Raccoon FAQs:

Do you need a rabies shot if bitten by a raccoon?

If you have been bitten or scratched by a raccoon you should seek immediate medical attention. A medical professional may suggest a rabies vaccine in addition to proper wound treatment.

Do raccoons have rabies in Canada?

Yes, raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats are the most common carriers of rabies in Canada – but remember that human rabies cases are incredibly rare in Canada. 

How many humans have died from rabies in Canada?

Human cases of rabies are incredibly rare in Canada and have only resulted in 25 deaths in the past 100 years. To put that into perspective the WHO estimates that there are 60,000 human deaths from rabies every year in Africa and Asia.

Can you survive a rabid raccoon bite?

Raccoon bites are rarely lethal in Canada when victims seek medical care. Though raccoons are one of the most common carriers of rabies in Canada, rabid raccoons are still quite rare and deaths from rabies are even rarer.

Are raccoons aggressive to humans?

Raccoons are generally not aggressive towards humans, but they can become defensive if they feel threatened or cornered. In urban and suburban areas, raccoons may lose their natural fear of humans, especially if people feed them, which can lead to bold behaviour. It’s important to avoid approaching or attempting to handle raccoons, particularly those exhibiting unusual behavior, and to take precautions to minimize potential conflicts.

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