Will raccoons attack humans? Should you be worried?

Raccoons over the years have become just another addition to our urban landscape. They are a common sighting in cities and suburbs. They might seem kind of cute and cuddly but I wouldn’t suggest you go up to one and pet it. If provoked they can be dangerous and they can transfer a number of diseases to humans. Will raccoons attack humans? In some circumstances, they will. Read more to find out.

If you have never had to deal with this animal then you might not know how to act around them. But if you have lived around raccoons you know that you should keep your distance just in case. If they come scavenging through your garbage you might start to panic. This is when conflict can arise.

Are raccoons aggressive?

Normally raccoons are not aggressive. In general, they are peaceful creatures that go about their day. The raccoons that may be aggressive are the ones with rabies, are injured, are sick or are mother raccoons trying to protect their litter. Every raccoon’s way of dealing with conflict is to quickly find an escape route, only if they don’t have a choice they will attack. This happens if the raccoon is approached.

They are quite deceptive animals and you would think that because of their size they would be more of a predator.  They have long sharp claws and their jaws and teeth are quite powerful. In reality, they are not predatory animals. They are not high up the food chain either. Other larger predatory animals can easily kill and eat a raccoon. They know this and know to keep their distance. They would rather flee than fight.

Are raccoons aggressive to humans?

No, raccoon’s are generally not dangerous or aggressive to humans. They go about their business and as long as you stay away from them, don’t scare them and don’t make them feel like they’re being backed into a corner then you will be fine and it won’t become aggressive to you or attack you. The only case where it may be aggressive to you is if it feels threatened, is injured, is sick or you have come to close to their litter.

Will raccoons attack humans?

A normal healthy raccoon will generally not attack a human for prey or kill. The raccoon knows that a human is a more predatory animal.

If a raccoon has rabies then there is a higher chance that the animal will attack you. When the raccoon is infected with rabies the animal’s brain and personality changes. The changes will show up as irritated behaviour and aggression. The raccoon may even try to attack people with no provocation.

Normal healthy raccoons have a defence mechanism that entails trying to threaten you in order to scare you off. You will find that a raccoon might grunt, huff and maybe even charge at you. But they don’t really want to fight. As a last resort before they fight they will try to seem threatening to try to scare you away.

If you feel threatened, for your own safety and to make the animal feel at ease you should keep your distance. Let it go about its day and you should go about yours. If you want it to move away from you you can exert your dominance as a big scary predator. Do this by shouting, clapping your hands or moving your arms wildly.

Dangers of raccoon attacks

If you get too close to a raccoon and get into it’s personal space they may start to feel uncomfortable. They can react in one of two ways as self-defence: they can bite you or they can scratch you

If they bite or scratch you then the raccoon can transfer a disease onto you if it is sick. This article goes over what diseases raccoons get and the symptoms of each. A brief look at the diseases that can be transferred from racoons to humans is listed below.

If they scratch you, you can wind up with deep painful cuts that will take a while to heal. These cuts can get infected if not treated correctly. Raccoons have claws that can cut through all types of skin (especially soft human skin) quite easily.

What percentage of raccoons have rabies?

The population of wild animals which have rabies is quite high. In 2017 91% of wild animals were recorded to have rabies. 28.6% of the animals that had rabies were raccoons. You will usually find raccoons with rabies in the southern and eastern states.

What does rabies do to humans?

If you get rabies from a raccoon or any other animals then the signs can be quite alarming. The symptoms can show up in less than a week to more than a year. The disease needs to travel from the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system.

You’d be better off if you receive treatment before the rabies symptoms set in. If you live in an area where there is a high risk of rabies you should get immunized. Here are some symptoms of a human with rabies:

  • Inflammation of the brain
  • Fever and tingling at the area of the infection
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to move some parts of the body
  • Headaches
  • Violent movements
  • Loss on consciousness
  • Terror
  • Hallucinations
  • Uncontrolled excitement
  • Fear of water
  • Confusion

If you get bitten by a rabid animal and you start showing signs before you receive treatment there is a high possibility of death.  

Why are raccoons dangerous?

Generally, if you leave raccoons alone they will not be dangerous to you. Yes, they have very dangerous anatomical features that can do some serious harm during a fight, such as their long sharp claws and their strong albeit small jaws, but they actually don’t fight if unprovoked.

The most dangerous things about raccoons are the diseases that they carry. They can infect humans with a number of diseases by biting or scratching us. We can also develop diseases if we handle their faeces or urine or even if we handle the raccoon itself. If the faeces or urine is left on a surface the disease can be transferred on there as well.

What should you do if you see a raccoon?

If you encounter a raccoon you should firstly stay calm. If you make any sudden movements or loud noises then you can scare it.

Back away from the raccoons. The best way to keep a raccoon from getting scared and feeling attacked is to retreat. This will create distance between you and the animal and will calm you down as well.

If the animal is being aggressive you should back away quickly. It is already in a mindset to fight and you don’t want to tussle with a raccoon under any  circumstances

If the raccoon tries to attack you then you should use something to cover your exposed areas of skin such as your head, face, neck, arms and legs as well.

Note: Generally a raccoon won’t try to attack, if it does then it may be rabid. Get out of the area and quickly as you can

Tip: If you live in a raccoon infested area then carrying a bottle of pepper spray will do well to protect you from raccoons that may try to attack you.

Is it illegal to kill a raccoon?

It depends on where you are and what the circumstances for killing the raccoon are. In some jurisdictions and circumstances, it is legal to kill a raccoon but in others it is illegal to kill raccoons.

In certain states, there are stated sanctioned raccoon hunts which are allowed on the basis of religion. You need to pay very close attention to how your state treats raccoon killings.

In addition, you need to be careful if you intend on trapping them as well. In some states, you may not trap them if the trap causes injury to the animal or other animals.

Can you get sick from touching a raccoon?

Yes, you can get sick from touching a raccoon. You can get sick from handling a raccoon, being bitten or scratched by raccoons, or being in contact with raccoon faeces. If you come into contact with areas that have been contaminated by a raccoon then you can also become sick.

There are a variety of health risks that go along with coming into contact with a raccoon. If you do come into contact with one you should seek medical assistance immedicably. Even if you don’t notice anything wrong with the animal.

Should I be afraid of raccoons?

You don’t have to be afraid of raccoons if you aren’t attacking them or backing them into a corner. They generally go about their business and avoid interacting with humans.

They may create homes in human habitats such as barns, abandoned vehicles or other small, easy to access nooks and crannies but generally, they won’t approach you.

If a raccoon approaches you, you should be very careful and cautious. When they are sick they do not act normally and and may attack humans. Sick raccoons can carry rabies, roundworms or leptospirosis. If you come into contact with a raccoon it can easily infect you with any of these sicknesses and these can be fatal to you.

Is dried raccoon poop dangerous?

Yes dried raccoon poop is very dangerous. Raccoons can transfer diseases through their bodily fluids, urine and feaces. If the feaces is left in an area it can infect the area and give you and anyone who touches it a disease or two. One of the diseases you can get from the feaces is Leptospirosis. The feaces can also carry fungus, parasites, and bacterial diseases.

If there are racoon feaces laying around you should wear disposable gloves, rubber boots and a n95 mask to protect yourself before removing them. Remove the feaces using a plastic bag and then burn or burry it.

Can humans catch diseases from raccoons?

Yes there are a number of diseases you can catch from raccoons. The diseases you can catch from raccoons include the following:


This is one of the better-known diseases you can catch from raccoons. If you come into contact and get scratched or bitten by a rabid raccoon then you can and will probably develop this sickness.


This is a type of bacterial infection that can be transferred from raccoons to humans. You will contract this disease if you touch the urine or faeces of a raccoon that has this disease.

Baylisascaris procyonis:

This is another disease that is not as well known as rabies but is dangerous to humans all the same. The disease is transferred through feaces. The roundworm is a parasite of the raccoon. It lays its eggs in the intestine of the animal and the feaces carry these eggs. This disease infects your central nervous system.


This disease is easily transferrable because it can survive in the raccoon’s faeces, water, oil and even surfaces. For it to infect the human the human would have to ingest it. If you have the disease you will develop gastrointestinal problems.

Regardless of if you think you contacted any of these diseases, you need to make sure you contact a physician if you come into contact with a raccoon

All in all, handling a raccoon, in general, is not the best idea. As we can see from the article a variety of things that can go wrong if the raccoon attacks you or infects you. You should always keep your distance from these animals. This is what to do if you see a raccoon in your hose, yard or the wild.

If you would like to know what products will help get rid of raccoons then read this article. If you would rather not do it yourself then I recommend calling a pest professional

That’s the article on will raccoons attack people. If you enjoyed this article please share it.

Will raccoons attack humans? Should you be worried?
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