Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Raccoons nocturnal or diurnal?

 

What to do if you encounter a raccoon out in the day. If you see a raccoon, no matter what time of day, leave it alone it's a wild animal. Never try to feed it or approach it. Seeing a raccoon out in the day isn't an immediate cause for alarm. There are many reasons why this nocturnal animal might be out and about. If you live in an urban setting, or if the year has been bad for food, raccoons will change their habits to fit when food is most available. If you always put your garbage out in the afternoon, the raccoons in the area will learn that and if you leave food out for your outdoor domestic animals they will keep coming and paying a visit in fact if it's a everyday habit feeding out side don't be surprised if you have numerous raccoons and even opossums, skunks, etc feeding there. If you several raccoons together during the day it's a mother with young called a "nursery" and a mother with young is like a grizzly bear with cubs so don mistake her grunting and growling at you for rabies they are teaching their young to forge for food. Raccoons are creatures of habit and will stay close where there is a food and water source. A raccoon out in the daytime that is lingering in your yard, seems overly friendly, is acting unstable, lethargic, or is walking in odd patterns, should be reported to the animal control or your State DNR. Your local animal control or state DNR will come out and dispatch the raccoon that may be ill. The body is then sent to the health department where it will be evaluated for possible infectious disease. Aside from odd behavior, seeing a raccoon out in daylight does not always mean the creature is ill. Humans are active primarily during the day, but if you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you hope your neighbor doesn't assume you are a threat.

Is a raccoon that is active during the daytime rabid? Rarely is a raccoon rabid when it is active during the daytime. While daytime behavior could be an indicator of rabies, finding a raccoon during the day isn't sufficient evidence to qualify that raccoon as rabid.

As most people are already aware, raccoons are primarily nocturnal creatures. They normally spend the lighter hours of the day near their den, asleep. However, since raccoons have high adaptability, and can change their habits to find the best available source of food, it's not surprising to see them active during the day. This is especially true of urban raccoons that forage from commercial and residential garbage cans, and of raccoons that are brave enough to seek handouts from passersby.

Rabid raccoons do exhibit abnormal behaviors, including walking around during the day, but finding one during the lighter hours isn't enough to call a raccoon rabid. Depending on the time of year, it's likely that a diurnal raccoon could be partaking in the mating season, if it has not done so already. Additionally, a mother raccoon out with her kits during the day is more than likely taking them on a hunting trip, to show them how to forage.

There are a number of reasons why raccoons will venture out into the sunlight. If a daytime raccoon is in fact rabid, it is easily distinguishable from its healthy counterparts. There are several, telltale symptoms of a sick raccoon which most people can recognize immediately, with careful observation and a little forehand knowledge.

Normal raccoons behave deliberately, with steady physical movements, but sick raccoons will appear disoriented, and have been known to walk in circles, stagger, and even fall over. Also, sick raccoons will appear lethargic, overly aggressive, or overly friendly (though this may also be true of raccoons adjusted to being fed by humans). A raccoon with apparently paralyzed hind legs, or a raccoon dragging its hind legs behind it, are also indicative of rabies. Of course, foaming at the mouth and sensitivity to light and sound are both dead giveaways. In short, if a raccoon looks and acts sick, then it should be clear what's going on.

Caution should be exercised around all wildlife, including raccoons. If you happen to come across a raccoon in the daytime, do not approach. More often than not, a healthy raccoon out and about will be on its merry way without a human's intervention. If it appears that the animal is foraging from local dumpsters or garbage cans, try locking the lids or putting them out at different times of the day, respectively. The problem should then solve itself.

If you find a raccoon using your house as a den in your attic, contact a local wildlife removal expert for assistance. Raccoons left unchecked can cause severe damage to homes, leaving homeowners with massive repair bills.

If you suspect a raccoon is sick, contact animal control immediately. Only those who are licensed to do so may tranquilize any animal, in order to assess the animal's needs and put them down if necessary. If you are not sure, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator and they can help you determine whether the animal needs help.

Remember it is illegal for a private individual to trap wildlife without a license from your state DNR. The law says a wild animal is not supposed to be removed from its environment. So if you have wildlife nuisance problem contact license professionals. I specialize in handicap; disabled and special needs raccoons. If you have any questions about raccoons contact me at kritterkids@yahoo.com. When in doubt give a wildlife professional a shout.

 

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