Raccoons are the most destructive among the urban pests and they can be quite a nuisance and threat to humans. What makes raccoons a threat to humans is the fact that they are common carriers of rabies, roundworms and leptospirosis causing bacteria. Raccoons are extremely agile and way too smart for an animal. You don’t want them getting anywhere near your attic or chimney because that is where they prefer building their den!
Raccoons don’t just come into your neighborhood or attic one fine day. Rather they do a lot of reckons before they make a den inside your compound or the worst, inside your attic. Raccoon invasion begins with them being a regular presence in your garden at night and chances are that you will fail to notice their presence. It is not easy to identify them with their paw marks and the best way to identify them is from their poop.
So, what does raccoon poop look like? A raccoon poop may look very similar to that of a dog droppings but they are dark in color with a tubular shape and stinks more than a dog droppings. If you inspect raccoon droppings with a stick you can see pieces of undigested berries and seeds in it. This is the easiest way to identify raccoon scat.
In this article, we will discuss the ways to identify a raccoon by its feces, their pooping behaviors and a lot more facts you must know before handling a raccoon.
The Pooping Behaviour of a Raccoon
What differs a raccoon from other animals is their pooping behavior. Unlike other animals that walk around and poop wherever they want, raccoons don’t do that.
A raccoon first identifies a site to poop (known as latrine site) away from their den which may be near to your house. They always come back to the same spot to poop.
What makes it even annoying is their community latrine practice. Which means raccoons living in the same locality may poop in the same place. Their usual latrine locations are tree bases, stumps, under decks and in attics. Raccoons visit these areas at night and will return after pooping.
What Does Raccoon Poop Look Like?
A raccoon poop may look very similar to a dog’s dropping which makes it difficult to identify it. It can normally be 2 to 3 inches long and cylindrical in shape with broken ends. Raccoon poop is generally dark in color but we can never be certain because it may vary with the food they ate recently.
An interesting thing to note about raccoons is that they don’t walk around pooping in different spots. If the raccoon has found a latrine spot inside your property, it will always come back to the same spot to poop. Which means it is going to be stinky and filthy.
If you spot a latrine, inspect the poop with a stick. If it is a raccoon poop, there will be undigested seeds and berries it. And most importantly it will be a mix of wet and dry poop and a lot stinky than a dog’s poop.
How Can We Identify Raccoon Feces?
It is not easy to identify a raccoon’s poop because all the nocturnal animals poop in the residential areas at night. For instance, nocturnal animals such as hedgehogs, dogs, and foxes have almost the same pooping behavior as a raccoon. Which makes it difficult to identify them.
As mentioned earlier, a poop of a dog and raccoon may look similar. The only way to ensure that it’s a raccoon poop is to closely inspect it with a stick and to look for undigested berries or seeds in it. Raccoons mostly eat fruits, plants, vegetables, nuts, and grains. This means there will obviously be these undigested items in their feces.
Diet of a Raccoon
The raccoon is an omnivorous animal. They eat both plants and small animals which include eggs and small insects. Raccoons are good swimmers and are found to catch frogs from ponds. They are also agile which makes it easier for them to feed on rats.
Is Raccoon Poop Dangerous To Humans?
A raccoon is considered to be dangerous to humans not because they can be destructive. Rather scientific studies have proven that they can be carrying deadly pathogens, viruses, or bacteria.
For instance, a raccoon is found to be a common carrier of the rabies virus, roundworm eggs, and leptospirosis causing bacteria.
A raccoon poop generally contains roundworm eggs in it. These eggs can remain active in the poop for almost 2-3 weeks before they become dormant. By the time they become dormant they would have multiplied. They carry out the same cycle even if they are transmitted to a human body. It is important to note that you can’t kill the roundworm eggs inside a raccoon poop using any disinfectant. The only effective way is to incinerate them.
By coming in direct contact with these eggs either through an open would or drinking from an infected water source can prove deadly to humans. Roundworm eggs can cause severe brain and heart injuries, loss in vision or even death in the worst cases.
If you have kids in your house, be extremely cautious because they are the most vulnerable to roundworm infection. Because kids between 6 months to 5 years tend to put everything they find into their mouths.
Similarly, the bacterial infection Leptospirosis which is transmitted from the raccoon poop can cause kidney or liver failure. Always make sure that you handle raccoon poop with extreme care.
Is it True That Raccoon Scat Can Affect Your Vision?
Yes, there are chances for loss of vision if you come in contact with a raccoon poop directly. As mentioned in the previous section raccoon poop contains roundworm eggs that are dangerous to humans.
You can come in contact with the roundworm egg inside the raccoon poop through an open wound in your body or through inhaling as these eggs are lightweight and can fly in the air. It is important to note that the human body is the best breeding ground for a roundworm and these eggs may hatch quickly spreading into the entire body.
If left untreated, it can cause severe heart diseases, damage to the central nervous system, loss of vision or even death in the worst cases.
How to Safely Remove Raccoon Poop? (Raccoon Droppings Removal)
You should be very careful while removing the poop. The best way to go about it would be to sprinkle some water to avoid its dust flying in the air and to use a disposable glove.
Use a shovel to clear the poop and do not use your hands. After you remove the raccoon droppings, clean the area with hot water or a cleaning solution. Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfectant and using hot water.
Step by Step Guide on Removing Raccoon Feces
If you have found a raccoon latrine near your home or in your compound, it is advised to clear it ASAP! Especially if you have kids in the house. If you plan on cleaning the poop by yourself, follow these steps to ensure safety.
- Wear a disposable glove or rubber boots. It is best if you can cover your boot with a disposable cover so that you can incinerate the glove and cover it after use. This can minimize the risk of bringing the poop into your house.
- Wear an N-95 grade respirator
- Spray the poop with water to avoid the roundworm eggs in it flying
- Use a shovel to remove the poop or contaminated material. The best way of disposing of the poop would be to incinerate it using a propane torch. Or you can safely set fire to the poop after spraying some kerosene to it.
- Disinfect the area first with boiled water and then use a disinfectant. It is important to note that roundworm eggs cannot be destroyed using any chemical disinfectants. Only heat can destroy it.
- Clean your hands using hot water and disinfectant.
Always ensure that you wash the clothes you wore while clearing the poop separately in hot water and then in detergent. Let it dry in the sun for a longer period.
Do Raccoons Come Out During the Day Time?
There is nothing surprising in seeing raccoons in the daytime. Raccoons cannot sit inside the den from morning tonight. So they may wander in open spaces. They may come out in search of food also.
This happens especially in the case of female raccoons who have babies to feed. If you see raccoons at day time, leave them alone and don’t try to feed them or approach them. They may have their own reasons to come out.
Physical Features of Raccoons
Raccoons are nocturnal creatures and it is not going to be easy to spot them unless you decide to be up all night guarding your garden (lol). Let’s say you spot one but how can you be sure that they are really raccoons?
- Do they have grey to brown fur throughout their body?
- Do they have black color around the eyes resembling the mask of thieves?
- Is there a stripe running from its forehead to the nose?
- Has it got a bushy tail?
These are the easiest yet the obvious distinguishing characteristic of a raccoon. If you are sure that the animal you spotted was a raccoon, you are going to have days of nuisance ahead!
Do Raccoons Attack Humans?
Raccoons are aggressive in nature. They are well equipped with long and sharp claws to fight other predatory animals like coyotes, foxes, and owls. Besides their ability to fight, raccoons have sharp eyesight and hearing.
That being said, raccoons do not attack humans unless they are threatened or injured. Moreover, they are the common carriers of rabies. A scratch or a bite can risk you getting exposed to the rabies virus. If you get attacked by a raccoon, get medical help ASAP!
If you ever encounter one, leave them alone. Don’t try to trap them in the absence of professionals.
How to Keep Raccoons Away?
The main attraction of animals to the residential area is the food. These nocturnal animals are mostly garbage eaters. Avoid dumping food waste in your yard and make sure that your garbage box is secured with a lid.
Raccoons may look cute but don’t be deceived by their looks. DO NOT FEED THEM at any cost. Installing an electric fence can be an effective way to prevent raccoons. Liquid pepper repellent can also be used to keep the raccoons away. The smell of pepper disgusts raccoons.
Giving poison to raccoons is not recommended. Although they are mischievous creatures, raccoons have the same rights to live here like us.
If a raccoon is creating too much havoc you can always call in professionals to handle them!