How to tell if a baby raccoon has rabies

You might stumble across a baby raccoon sometime in the future. Your first instinct might be to touch and pet it. If the racoon seems to be separated from its mother and you want to take care of it you should think twice. Yes, taking care of it is a kind thing to do but this is ultimately a bad idea. Chances are the mother is simply out getting food and she will be back looking for her cub soon enough. Also, the animal just might have rabies. This article explains how to tell of a baby racoon has rabies.

Raccoons are very cute and cuddly, they have adorable faces and beautiful coats of fur. The baby racoons are even more adorable. But you should always remember that even though they have these traits the racoon is still a wild animal and should be treated like one.

How to tell if a baby raccoon has rabies

Baby racoons and adult raccoons will have the same symptoms when it comes to having rabies.

Rabies is a disease that affects the brain of the infected animal. It changes the way the animal behaves and interacts with others as well as its appearance.

The rabies virus enters the salivary glands of the animal and this is where the disease multiples. 

The baby racoon is generally not born with the rabies virus. The baby will get it from the mother as she is grooming the newborn raccoon.  This is how to tell if the baby has rabies:

Seems sick:

Racoons can serve as hosts to a variety of diseases and parasites. If the baby raccoon seems sickly in any way, even in the slightest, then you need to steer clear of it.

Extremely thin:

Rabies can make racoons lose weight very quickly. If the baby does not look like it has a healthy weight you should be worried.

Foaming at the mouth:

This is a tell-tale sign that the baby has rabies. This foaming will be white, pay close attention to what is happening around the mouth

Eye and nasal discharge:

If the baby racoon is oozing anything out of these areas that is a sign that this is not a healthy racoon baby.

Laboured breathing:

If the raccoon has rabies you’ll notice that it’s having a hard time breathing. This means the racoon is ill


If racoons aren’t provoked they’re generally peaceful and go about their business. If the baby seems aggressive then keep your distance, it might have rabies.


You will notice that the racoon has difficulty walking. Even if you have never seen a racoon walk before you will notice that the walking of the baby racoon is irregular.


If the baby racoon looks particularly disorientated or in some sort of daze then it probably has rabies. Even if a healthy raccoon it is just a baby it will still look intelligent.

Abnormal behaviour:

If anything at all seems bizarre or off about this baby racoon then it’s probably best to stay away, better safe than sorry.

Out in the morning:

Racoons are generally nocturnal creates. If you find a baby racoon wandering around in the morning then you know that there might be something wrong. Steer clear of the animal

If the baby racoon bites you, the virus will transfer via the saliva into your body. Infection can also happen if the saliva enters an open wound on your body and infects it.

You shouldn’t under any circumstances interact with a baby raccoon that you suspect has rabies. You need to make sure that you call a wildlife professional and have them deal with the rabid animal in a safe way.

If you interact with it then there is a high chance that you will get infected with rabies.

Is it common for raccoons to have rabies?

No, it is not common for raccoons to have rabies. The rabies disease is regarded as a raccoon’s disease but the chances that a random racoon has rabies is quite low.

What percent of raccoons have rabies?

We cannot know what percentage of raccoons have rabies only how many of the reported cases of rabies are as a result of raccoons. The main animals that carry rabies are raccoons and bats.

The statistics differ year to year as to which of the two animals account for more rabies reported cases. But more often than not bats account for more rabies reported cases.

In 2018 bats accounted for 33.3 percent of all reposted rabies case and raccoons accounted for 30 percent.

How long can raccoons live with rabies?

When an animal starts to show signs of rabies the disease kills them quite quickly.

Once the signs of rabies start to show up the animal will die in 10 days. There is an incubation period but this period differs.

The incubation period ranges from nine days to several years in some cases. The yearly incubation period is rare but still is possible.

What diseases do baby raccoons carry?

Baby raccoons can carry the same diseases that adult raccoons carry, these include:

Rabies: This is a common venereal disease that is known to infect raccoons. The disease is commonly transferred through bites. It changes the raccoon’s behaviour by increasing levels of aggression and making the animal disorientated

Leptospirosis: This is a bacterial disease that affects raccoons and is transferred through the contamination of water and feed. It can be transferred between animals to humans through contaminated urine that comes into contact with the skin, throat, and eyes moth. This can cause the animal to become very ill and die.

Raccoon roundworm: This parasite lives and lays eggs in the raccoon’s intestines. The faeces passed contains roundworm eggs. When the eggs are ingested they develop into worms and cause the host to become seriously ill.

Canine distemper: This virus is also very common in raccoons. The signs of this disease is similar to what you would see in a rabid racoon

Parvoviral enteritis: This infection is ingested by raccoons and can cause issues such as diarrhoea, a loss of appetite, tiredness and a loss of fear of humans. This increases their chances of coming into contact with humans which is dangerous for us

Can you get rabies from touching a raccoon?

You can get infected with some illness as a result of touching a raccoon but you cannot get rabies from simply touching the animal.

The main way of contracting the virus is if you get bitten by a rabies-infected raccoon.

Another way of contracting it is through direct contact. The virus is passed when the saliva or brain/nervous system tissue touches broken skin or the eyes nose or mouth of the uninfected person or animal.

Other diseases can be contracted by touching the animals, coming into contact with their urine, faeces or surfaces that has been contaminated by a sick animal.

But these ways of transmitting viruses is not an area of concern when looking at rabies.

Can rabies be transmitted through a lick?

Rabies lives in the saliva of racoons. Getting rabies from a bite is the most common way of transmitting the disease but in some cases, the disease can be transferred through the saliva as well and thus through a lick. 

If you have an open wound the saliva only needs to enter that would for you to get rabies, this can happen if the animal licks your wound.

In addition, if the saliva of a rabid animal gets into your eyes nose or mouth then you can also develop this illness.

The lick from a rabid animal may not be obvious and you may not know that an animal you’re handling has rabies so you need to be careful not to touch or handle wildlife especially racoons and bats.

If you do handle one of these animals you need to see a physician to get yourself checked.

Do raccoon abandon their babies?

Raccoons seldom abandon their babies.

Raccoons are very good mothers. They will do everything in their power to make sure that their babies are safe, well-fed and nurtured.

If you find a baby raccoon alone during the day or night this may be because the mother is out foraging for food. You should leave the raccoon if the animal looks healthy and still looks well maintained even if the baby is crying

The mother will only abandon the baby raccoon if she can’t come back to it. This happens if she is killed.

Another reason why the mother may not come back for the baby raccoon is if the baby has a birth defect. Other than that raccoons do not abandon their babies and will walk many miles to get back their baby.

How can you tell if a baby raccoon is abandoned?

Accurately determining if a raccoon has been abandoned by their mother is imperative.

Generally, if you see a baby raccoon unattended you should leave it alone. The mother leaves their babies to go forage for food. Here are a few things that will indicate that the baby has been abandoned.

Destroyed den: If the den is destroyed as a result of human activity such as tree cutting then you can assume the raccoon family has been displaced

Nonstop crying: Raccoons will cry for their mothers if their mother is out looking for food. If the babes continue to cry for over 24 hours you know that this racoon has been abandoned

Dirty: Raccoon mothers take care of their babies well so if the baby raccoon is dirty and has bugs and insects crawling all over it you can safely assume that the baby has been abandoned.

Wounds: If the baby racoon looks injured, is wounded or has blood all over it you can assume it has been abandoned

Note: If you find a raccoon left somewhere you should not take it as a pet. Wait for 24 house to see if the mother comes back later on. She will be a better caretaker of the baby than humans and wildlife rehabilitation centres.

Can baby raccoons survive without their mother?

No baby raccoons cannot survive without their mothers. The mother is the baby raccoon’s primary caretaker. She teaches it how to look for food on its own and how to take care of itself.

Until the raccoon learns how to do this on its own the raccoon is fully dependent on the mother. The baby won’t survive without her. Separating the two will be dire for the baby.

The baby will only separate from its mother between 8 and 12 months old.

If the raccoon cannot be reunited with its mother then the best thing to do is to get into contact with a wildlife rehabilitation centre to take care of it.

These organisations are licenced wildlife agencies that are trained to raise wildlife and reintroduce them into the wild.

What to do if you find a healthy baby:

If you find a healthy raccoon baby you should make sure it gets back together with its mother. It may have gotten separated somehow.

The best thing to do is to get it back to its mother because the mother will be a batter caretaker of the racoon than any human can be.

You need to leave the racoon where you found it. The mother will usually come back to the place where she last saw the baby and will take it back to her den.

Leave the baby racoon outside and make sure you leave it there for a whole overnight period, this will enable the mother to find it eventually.

If the baby cries do not feed it or bring it inside. The crying will be like a siren call to the mother.

What to do if the mother doesn’t come?

If the mother does not come back then it means that the racoon has been abandoned and you should call your local wildlife rehabilitation centre for more advice.

If you find a raccoon in your area there are many ways to repel it.

You can try mint fragranced trash bags, racoons don’t like the smell and will be repelled by the bags.

You can also use a raccoon repellent to keep raccoons and other animals away from your property, here is a well-loved and all-natural repellent. This article is a more in-depth guide on how to get rid of raccoons.

I hope you enjoyed this article looking at how to tell if a baby racoon has rabies. Remember to stay safe out there. If you enjoyed this article or found it useful please share it.

How to tell if a baby raccoon has rabies
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