Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Close Racoon Encounter-Rabies?

Yesterday while hiking I crossed paths with a very healthy looking raccoon. It was 10 a.m, and he was fat, but slow, and not very scared. He climbed a tree, and watched me pass. I had my hiking poles, prepared to fend off any attacks.

I immediately thought of rabies. We always think of aggression and erratic behavior associated with rabies.

I visited my "cabin" then returned the same path. The raccoon surprised me because he was just sitting off the trail, in the leaves. He appeared to be very drowsy.

My partner hiked that same path around 3 p.m and the raccoon was in the same place, looking sleepy. Because of his lack of aggression, we figured old age just made him sluggish.

Research at:

Rabies affects raccoons in two different ways. The first way is to slowly bring them into a stupor. They move less, become slower, and seem to grow depressed. Although they're nocturnal animals, they may remain outside during the daytime. They also lose their fear of humans and other animals, and although they aren't overtly aggressive, they may attack if provoked, spreading the disease. These unusual behaviors are the surest way to spot a rabid raccoon
Read more: Symptoms of Distemper & Rabies in Raccoons |"

Happily the raccoon was not there this morning. I was dreading a broken bloody body. Perhaps buzzards or coyotes got him. No signs.

Beware of animals with slow sluggish behavior. Never provoke or try to pet anything wild. These are my takeaway thoughts.

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