Raccoons are common across most of North America. As adults, they are typically a little larger than a housecat and can easily be identified by their masked face and bands of black stripes on their tail. Raccoons are considered nocturnal, but are often active during daylight hours as well. The average diet consists of fruit, nuts and seeds, bird eggs, snakes, insects and when opportunity allows, human food.
Raccoons, like other wildlife, carry zoonotic diseases that can be spread to humans and family pets. In Texas, raccoons are considered a high-risk rabies carrier and any human or pet contact with raccoons should be reported to the rabies control authority.
Raccoons may also carry and transmit canine distemper, which is a virus that attacks the nervous system of infected animals. Distemper can be spread by infected animals sneezing and coughing as well as sharing food and water bowls.
To protect your pets against rabies, distemper and other zoonotic diseases, keep them vaccinated. Consult your veterinarian about which vaccines are best for your pet.
The following tips will prevent raccoon encounters in your neighborhood:
Don't feed raccoons - It teaches them that humans are a source of food and invites them deeper into populated areas.
Take away pet food bowls at night - Raccoons are opportunistic scavengers and may spread disease through pet food containers. Taking away food containers will prevent them from entering the yard.
Place garbage bags inside trash cans with latching lids - Raccoons are clever and can get into trash bags or open-top cans for an easy meal.