If only life really imitated art, the way raccoons are portrayed would be wonderful. Cartoons and movies cast the animal as a clever, cute, mischievous, and a sometimes helpful creature. For those not in the know, the moniker trash panda is applied at a distance with a certain air of humor. Up close, however, they are not so pleasant, usually covered in battle scars and exhibiting a mean disposition. They are nocturnal creatures and seeing them in the daytime can be a sign of sickness, that there are babies close by, that the area is overpopulated and food is scarce, or something bigger and badder has scared it out of the den. Either way, it is best to avoid them.
They are a native species to North America and were first documented by Christopher Columbus. They lived in the south for millions of years and were first discovered in a northern urban environment, Cincinnati, in the 1920s. Raccoons are now found throughout the country, even the northern extremes of Alaska. In recent years, the reduction of their natural habitat has forced the animal to look for suitable living conditions in our cities, homes, and businesses. We have made it easy for them, and they have thrived, and unfortunately for us, they have brought disease and destruction with them.
In 2019, a rabid raccoon right here in Maywood attacked several residents and chased a group of children. The attack was unprovoked and some signs to look for in an infected beast are aggressive behavior, excessive salivation, tremors, and the animal appearing drunk. Contact should be avoided at all costs. In April of 2021 in nearby Monmouth County, a dog was attacked by a rabid critter, and in June of 2021 in Point Pleasant, 15 rabid raccoons were caught.
While rabies is probably the most common disease known to the public, it is not the only one. Bacterial diseases they can transmit include leptospirosis, tularemia, and listeriosis, and viral diseases include canine distemper, pseudorabies, and canine hepatitis. Keeping them out of swimming pools is critical because once in, they can remain there for hours. Their feces can contain roundworm eggs that can be especially harmful to children when ingested.
Raccoons are tree dwellers, which gives them easy access to roofs and vents. Once they get inside, insulation, water pipes, and personal belongings are on the destruction hit list. They are extremely intelligent and remember tasks, including finding food sources for up to three years. Their smarts have been compared to primates and three-year-old children, and urban creatures have proven smarter than those in the forest. They communicate with each other through a series of 13 documented whistles, barks, and cries. If you come across one, you may want to get a head start getting away; they can reach a top speed of 15 mph.
At New Day Pest Control, keeping our New Jersey neighbors out of harm’s way is a top priority. If raccoons are causing an issue at your home or business, contact us today. We are Bergen County and the surrounding area’s top-rated pest and wildlife removal company.