When you think of pests, cockroaches and rats may come to mind--pests whose very appearance makes people shudder with revulsion. Disease and filth are the images your brain conjures up when you think of them. Raccoons, on the other hand, are undeniably cute. Their bandit-striped face masks and fluffy tails seem to say, "Come play with me." However, don't be deceived: these mischievous mammals represent danger to homeowners or business owners. With summer right around the corner, you need to prepare for more of these masked marauders than usual and protect yourself against the possibility of rabies.
The rundown on raccoons
Raccoons are found throughout southern and central Canada. Although they tend to live in wooded areas, they adjust quite well to urban areas because of the easy food pickings there. They also appreciate the many dwelling opportunities afforded by houses and businesses, especially since raccoons do not construct their own habitats; they prefer to move into something ready-made.
Raccoons become aggressive when cornered or provoked. In fact, they have few enemies in the animal world because they fiercely fight them off--snarling, scratching, and biting--when attacked. They will attack your family pets if an encounter occurs, especially if your dog dares to approach its food bowl when they are eating from it. Raccoons are even known to attack people. In fact, a Vancouver woman and her pug dogs were attacked by a raccoon in October 2014--an attack that was completely unprovoked.
A rise in raccoons is around the corner
This is bad news for Canadians right now. With summer comes an increase in the number of raccoons venturing onto residential and commercial properties, because babies have reached the age where they can forage on their own. Both adults and babies spend summer months fattening themselves for the cold winter months ahead.
But the news gets worse: not only are you likely to see more raccoons this summer, the ones you see are more likely to have rabies than in years past. For instance:
New Brunswick confirmed the discovery of several rabid raccoons in Charlotte County earlier this year. One of the raccoons bit a man extensively and exposed his friend, who was sprayed with blood from the attack, to the disease as well.
The New Brunswick cases were not isolated; many cases were noted by officials during the first few months of this year along the US-Canadian border.
Just last month in Grey-Bruce, four people were attacked by raccoons in a week and a half. The investigation into whether the raccoons were rabid or had distemper is ongoing; the two illnesses bear resemblances to each other.
In fact, rabies is found more often in raccoons than in any other species (yes, even more than in bats).
How to be raccoon ready
To reduce your chances of encountering raccoons--rabid or not--on your property, take some common sense measures first. Don't leave pet food outside, and invest in locking garbage cans. Seal up any entrances to your basement or roof and repair torn screens or holes in your walls. If you come across a raccoon, do not try to pick it up. In fact, don't even try to shoo it away, as it may become agitated and attack.
The best action to take if you have raccoons around your home or business is to call a professional. Pest control companies like Cal-Rid Exterminators Inc have years of experience with relocating raccoons from both residential and commercial properties, and they are probably already doing so around your city as summer nears. Schedule an appointment with a technician today--and protect your family and animals from the potential of painful attack and exposure to a dangerous disease.