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San Diego Humane Society

Raccoons: Coexisting with Wildlife

Background Information

  • Project Wildlife helps around 200 raccoons each year.
  • Raccoon baby season is from April to September.
  • Raccoons are nocturnal and are a highly intelligent mammal that typically live in groups.
  • Raccoon populations are densest in suburban and urban areas because of relatively easy access to food and nesting areas.
  • It is important to know that raccoons are a Rabies Vector Species in the San Diego area. However, very few cases have been reported in the last 30 years.
  • It is illegal to trap and relocate them and would do little to solve the problem because they typically live in groups and in every corner of the county.
  • They should never be touched without protection and never feed them.
  • Raccoons will eat almost anything, especially open garbage cans, fruits, grubs, garden vegetables, pet food and much more.
    • To discourage them, inspect the yard and eliminate all access to food while using ammonia soaked rags, bright lights and loud sounds can help deter them too.
  • Raccoons will move in the attic, under a shed, crawl spaces, drainpipes or any warm, dark and dry places. Between April and September, there could be babies present so please try to wait until they have grown. 

When does a raccoon need to come to the Project Wildlife Care Center?

  1. Baby raccoons crying and no mother present. It is normal for kits to wine and cry like puppies and the mom may be temporarily away but if it is continuous with no quiet periods, contact the Care Center or team member to assess the situation.
  2. A raccoon is sick or injured. Since raccoons can carry diseases, it is important that the caller not attempt to rescue it themselves and leave it to an experienced rescuer.
  3. Contact SDHS Dispatch or Animal Control (unincorporated areas) for assistance. If more information is required, it is available from the Care Center staff, the Operators Manual or the raccoon team.

What to do if you find:

We recommend that you do not attempt to rescue an injured or sick raccoon yourself.  Special precautions need to be taken when dealing with this type of wild animal. They can carry rabies and baylisascaris worms, both of which are contagious to you, and distemper, which can be transmitted to your pets. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the animal until an animal control arrives at the scene. 

If the animal is in immediate danger, proceed very cautiously. First put on heavy leather gloves to protect yourself in case the animal bites. Even a very small baby can and will bite. Please cage it in a kennel or pet carrier (or any ventilated secure container), and place it in a warm, dark place while seeking help.

Food & Water

Do not feed a raccoon. Feeding too quickly or inappropriately can cause illness and death.

Coexisting with Raccoons:

  • Secure trash can lids so that raccoons cannot get into them; keep trash cans in a shed or garage.
  • Eliminate access to food in your yard, place pet food inside, secure pet doors at night, pick up fallen fruit around the garden and restrict the use of birdseed. They eat insects, nuts, worms, frogs, shellfish, fish, mammals, birds, eggs, grubs, snakes, and fruits.
  • In the wild, it dens in tree hollows, hollow logs, or sometimes rocky caverns. In urban areas, raccoons may nest in drainpipes, basements, crawl spaces and house attics.
  • If a raccoon is digging in the yard, sprinkle cayenne pepper to discourage grub-hunting.
  • Trim branches that provide access to the house.
  • Bright lights, loud sounds and vinegar-soaked rags may act as deterrents. They are nocturnal but are occasionally active in daytime.
  • The raccoon’s primary enemies are humans, dog packs, traps, and automobiles. If threatened, the raccoon will often try a counter threat, fluffing out its fur so that it appears larger and uttering a throaty growl or cry. Raccoons may appear bold but usually are not aggressive except during mating season or when defending their young. However, their strength, teeth, and claws equip them to defend themselves effectively.



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