If you have seen or heard raccoons scampering around your home at night, chances are you have a good amount of raccoon droppings on your property. Raccoon droppings might, at first, seem like nothing more than a nuisance for you as a homeowner. But can raccoon droppings actually be dangerous?
How to Identify Raccoon Feces
Raccoon feces are usually small (about 2-3 inches) tubular shaped, dark, and have a pungent odor. Another way you can identify raccoon feces from dog feces is that raccoon feces almost always show undigested particles of what they have been eating. For example, if a raccoon has been eating a lot of berries you might find feces with very obvious purple, or reddish brown spots in it. If the raccoon was eating corn you will see undigested corn kernels in the feces.
Raccoons generally eliminate their waste in communal areas that other raccoons are also using. The communal area where raccoons defecate and urinate are called raccoon latrines. Outdoors, the base of trees, fallen logs, piles of wood, stumps, or boulders can be prime locations for a raccoon latrine. Indoors raccoons can choose to use your deck or porch, your attic, or your garage. Identifying a raccoon latrine should be very easy once you know how to identify raccoon feces. The pileup of feces and the odor will be enough for you to tell. The real issue is knowing whether or not these piles of raccoon feces are dangerous to you or not, and what to do about them.
What Are The Dangers of Raccoon Feces?
Raccoon feces actually contain a number of diseases and parasites. Raccoons are the primary host of Baylisascaris Procyonis, a roundworm, which is present in raccoon feces. Their feces also can carry many other diseases such as: Leptospirosis, Salmonella, and Giardia. You can accidentally ingest, or even aspirate spores or eggs from these diseases. Raccoon feces can cause real dangers.
Raccoon roundworms can be harmful to humans. It is generally contracted by incidental consumption. They can lead to serious problems in humans and can also affect pets such as dogs. Roundworms can migrate through tissue into the brain and cause significant damage or even death. Immediate treatment is necessary. Anyone who is exposed to a latrine or frequents the same places as raccoons could possibly be at risk. Young children and developmentally disabled persons are more in danger of contracting roundworm as they are more likely to put contaminated items into their mouths.
Salmonella causes severe diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. It should also be noted that this bacteria can lay dormant for a long time if not properly cleaned and can reactivate if its environment conditions improve, such as when it it introduced into a host organism.
Leptospira is the bacteria that causes this disease, and is carried in the urine of raccoons. It can be contracted through drinking water infected by raccoon urine. Leptospirosis can cause fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, and body pain, and headaches, but can even lead to bleeding of the lungs, and kidney failure.
Giardiasis is a disease that can potentially be carried by raccoons. Giardia could be present in raccoon feces and can potentially infect water sources and any surface that the feces come into contact with. The symptoms of Giardiasis include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and dehydration.
What Can I Do About Raccoon Feces?
The first thing you must do is inspect. Make sure that there are no signs of raccoon latrines on your property or inside your home. Search in your garage, your attic, and any buildings on your property such as sheds or storehouses. Doing this quickly can prove to be very beneficial, as roundworm eggs are not immediately infectious. The feces do not start to be infectious with roundworm for about 2-4 weeks. Prompt action is necessary when dealing with a raccoon infestation or discovery of a latrine on your property.
If you do indeed have a raccoon latrine located on your property then you need to go about removing it carefully. This will require removing any raccoons from the area, removal of feces, and removal of items contaminated by raccoon feces or urine, such as insulation. Do not attempt removing raccoons by hand, or removing raccoon feces or contaminated items yourself without proper knowledge or equipment. You can easily cause yourself harm and infect yourself with disease if you attempt improper removal. Let [Company name here] do the dirty work for you.
Because raccoon feces can contain so many diseases, it is very important to have proper caution and make sure that the areas are cleaned very thoroughly. The area that was infected by a raccoon latrine must be properly disinfected using disinfection compounds to remove the disease causing bacteria and parasites. The area is also very likely infected with insect parasites such as fleas and ticks and should be properly treated keeping that in mind. Proper removal can only be carried out by a pest management professional as it requires knowledge and experience to be done right. Raccoons may seem like a simple annoyance, but they can potentially cause real disease and should be taken seriously.