Should You Handle A Raccoon With Bare Hands?
Many people have encountered situations where they find wild animals that seem hurt, young, or in places where they should not be. In these situations, one may consider picking the animal up to help or move them, but this is oftentimes a bad idea. This is especially true when it comes to raccoons.
What is a Raccoon and Where do they live?
Raccoons are wild animals that are native to North America and parts of Canada. They are best known for the mask-like markings on their face and their ringed tails. Despite being wild, these clever critters can be found living near neighbourhoods as they scavenge for food. Their paws and curiosity lead them into trash cans, across roads, and into houses.
There are plenty of places raccoons are encountered by people, but no matter the situation it is never safe to handle a raccoon with bare hands.
How are Raccoons Dangerous to Humans?
The most obvious threat raccoons pose to humans are their claws and teeth. Raccoons are omnivores, so they have sharp canine teeth like a cat or dog. They also have claws on their paws which are commonly used to dig, however they can also scratch. When a raccoon feels threatened it may try to run away, but if a raccoon is picked up they will feel trapped and try to fight.
It is nearly impossible to grab a raccoon in a way that will prevent it from being able to bite or scratch and it is harmful to the animal if they are grabbed by the tail. For this reason, people and raccoons are safest if a professional with protective gear handles the situation.
What Diseases do Raccoons Carry?
A less obvious threat that raccoons pose to humans is that of disease. Raccoons are known to carry a variety of diseases that they pick up in the wild and can transfer to humans through contact. One of the most dangerous and well-known diseases transmitted by raccoons is rabies. A raccoon that has rabies may seem sick, confused, and may even approach humans.
If someone were to come in contact with a rabid raccoon it would only take a bite or scratch for the disease to be transmitted through the animal’s saliva into the human.
A majority of people are not vaccinated against rabies and if they are not immediately treated after a possibly infectious bite they will die of the disease. Raccoons can also spread leptospirosis, another a deadly disease that can be spread through physical touch with the animal.
Picking Up Parasites
There is also the possibility of getting parasites from raccoons if they are handled with bare hands. Ticks or intestinal parasites from contaminated feces on the animal can lead to infections in the human that touched them.
Call a Professional
To protect raccoons and people it is recommended that these animals are not handled by non-professionals and never handled with bare hands.