Fun facts about the ubiquitous, omnivorous raccoon.
By Knolan Benfield
Eyes orange-red in the glow of headlights, the nighttime marauder creates terror in the hearts of grasshoppers, crickets, grubs, and grapes. Well, not grapes, of course. But there isn’t much a raccoon will not eat.
From acorns to zucchini, plus chickens, eggs, vegetables, and fruit, all are fair game to a foraging raccoon. These omnivorous animals will even eat salamanders; snakes; and crayfish, a favorite. Raccoons have been known to dig into an alligator’s nest for eggs, not always with favorable results for the raccoon. As campers and homeowners know, they also enjoy scavenging in trash cans.
- Although raccoons look cute and cuddly, admire them from a distance. They may bite or scratch if approached.
- Don’t leave food out at the campground; that includes pet food.
- Keep garbage cans tightly closed.
- Raccoons may be tempted to steal shiny objects, such as aluminum foil, aluminum cans, jewelry, keys, etc. Make sure these items are out of sight at night.
- Spray cayenne pepper around the campsite perimeter to further deter curious raccoons. Check the internet for homemade solutions.
- Use natural commercial critter repellent if necessary; be careful not to use poisons that can harm dogs, cats, and people.
- Keep raccoons at bay with loud noises and clapping.
- Use a motion-activated mechanized repellent. These devices spray water when detecting movement from raccoons and other critters.
- Raccoons can carry rabies, leptospirosis, salmonella, and other diseases. Rabies symptoms may include aggressiveness, unusual vocalizations, and foaming or drooling. Contact the park ranger or campground host if you suspect a rabid raccoon.