What You Need to Know About Raccoon Droppings

Knowing how to recognize raccoon droppings is important to you because raccoons can be extremely destructive.  Many people live near raccoons even if they don’t know it.  For example, raccoons are known to live in the metro Seattle area.  If raccoons are present in the area where you live, you probably know that they are fierce as well.  They will tip over garbage cans and destroy gardens, and if they are cornered, they have also been known to attack a person or other animal.

Raccoons usually defecate before they enter their dens, enter a structure, or before they climb a tree.  Droppings can often be found on deck steps and roofs, as well as generally in gardens and backyards without the homeowner even knowing that they live nearby since they are mainly a nocturnal forager.  Special care needs to be taken with children’s play structures and sand boxes since these are prime areas where raccoon feces could be found.

Raccoon droppings look similar to the feces of a medium size dog.  Their droppings will be more crumbly than a dog’s and due to their diet, more partially digested food will be evident.  Raccoons will also tend to return to the same place each time they need to defecate.  If you believe that you have found raccoon droppings, do not clean it up before you understand the dangerous diseases that may be present.

Raccoon feces can carry several diseases that are potentially serious.  Rabies and distemper are sometimes an issue, but they are rare.  Distemper will make the raccoons forage more during the day and act unusually aggressive.  Distemper can spread from the infected animal to any domestic pets that come into contact with the raccoon feces.

A more dangerous disease that raccoon feces can contain is a parasite called Baylisascaris procyonis.  This is a type of roundworm that can also infect humans.  If this parasite is transferred to humans, it can be extremely dangerous.  In children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems, infection with this roundworm can even be fatal.  Infections occur when someone comes into contact with raccoon droppings.  Million of this parasite’s eggs are often present in the droppings.  Even though roundworm parasites need to be inside the host to survive, the eggs can remain alive and dangerous for years in the soil.  This is how people can come into contact with the parasite without even knowing that they have.

If you have been exposed to this parasite or its eggs, your symptoms could include becoming nauseous, tired, and you may notice a lack of attention or coordination.  Other more serious symptoms are the loss of muscle control, blindness, and coma.  It can also cause a person’s liver to become enlarged.  If you have come into contact with raccoon feces and have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor as soon as possible.  With the proper treatment, the ringworms can be eliminated before they travel throughout the body.

If you’ve found raccoon feces in your yard, take precautions before cleaning it up.  Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.  Experts also recommend that you wear rubber boots, tyvek overalls, and that a respirator be used.  It is also recommended that you double or triple bag the droppings before disposing of them.  This will prevent other people coming into contact with the dangerous parasite.  If you are unsure, or if you suspect a large raccoon population, you can call a professional pest controller.  They have the appropriate equipment and the training to clean up the droppings safely and they can also offer some advice for deterring raccoons from playing and foraging in your yard.