Have you ever had a run-in with a raccoon that didn’t seem afraid of you at all? Maybe it even seemed curious or friendly? Raccoons approaching and not fearing humans is becoming more and more common. In this blog post, we’ll look at why raccoons may not be scared of you, what to do if one isn’t afraid, why a baby raccoon might follow you, and why raccoons are naturally wary of humans.
Why Is a Raccoon Not Scared of Me?
If a raccoon doesn’t seem frightened of you, there’s usually a reason behind its unusual behaviour. Here are some of the most common explanations:
- It’s accustomed to being fed. Raccoons that have been fed by humans, either intentionally or unintentionally through readily available food sources, often lose their fear and shy nature. They associate humans with food.
- It’s sick or injured. Raccoons with diseases like distemper or injuries may act strangely and not run away. Always keep your distance from raccoons acting oddly.
- It’s young and naive. Young raccoons, under a year old, often have not learned to be afraid of humans yet. They are curious and don’t understand the danger.
- It’s urban or suburban. Raccoons in cities and neighbourhoods deal with people daily and become bolder than rural raccoons.
- It’s daytime. Raccoons are mostly nocturnal, so daytime encounters sometimes catch them off guard. They may not immediately flee if napping.
- It’s confident. Some raccoons, especially older males, can be quite bold and assertive. They rely on intimidation to deal with threats.
- It feels safe. Raccoons on your roof or porch may feel like they have quick access to an escape route and be less skittish.
So next time a raccoon doesn’t seem afraid of you, think about the situation. Is it ill or hurt? Is it a mother with babies nearby? Is it used to being fed in this area? The raccoon may have a good reason for feeling so confident around you!
What to Do If a Raccoon Is Not Scared of Me
It can be unsettling, even alarming, to have a raccoon approach you without any sign of fear. But what should you do if you encounter a raccoon that doesn’t run away from you? Here are some tips:
- Don’t try to touch it. Even if it seems friendly, raccoons are still wild animals that can bite and scratch if threatened.
- Don’t run or make sudden movements. This could provoke an attack.
- Don’t corner it. Give the raccoon an escape route.
- Make yourself appear large. Raise your arms and open your jacket to look big and scary.
- Make loud noises. Yell, stomp your feet, clap your hands, or use noisemakers.
- Spray it with water. Use a hose or spray bottle to startle it away. Avoid the face.
- Throw objects near it. Toss sticks, small rocks, balls or anything you have on hand near it to encourage it to flee.
- Wave around and throw a large towel or blanket. Raccoons don’t like things flailing around.
- Back away slowly while facing the animal. Don’t turn your back and run.
- Get indoors or into a vehicle if one is near. You’ll be safe inside while the animal wanders off.
- Use deterrents like lights, sounds or spraying vinegar. Install motion-activated deterrents if they frequent your yard.
- Call animal control if it won’t leave or if you feel unsafe. They can remove problematic raccoons humanely.
With some loud noises and assertive waving around of towels or sticks, you can usually convince a curious raccoon to move along without much trouble. Stay calm, give it space, and remove the thing attracting it, whether food or shelter, to prevent future encounters.
Why Is a Baby Raccoon Following Me?
It can be alarming to have a baby raccoon start to follow you! But usually, they don’t have nefarious plans. Here’s why a baby raccoon may trail you:
- It’s lost its mother. Young raccoons under a year old stay close to mom. If separated, it will latch onto the nearest moving creature – you – hoping to find her.
- It smells of food on you. Even babies recognize human food. It’s hoping you’ll drop a snack. Never feed wild raccoons, though!
- It’s lonely. Babies are used to snuggling with mom and littermates. Without them, they seek cuddles from kind humans. Resist the urge!
- It’s curious. Raccoon kits are super playful and curious. Following you is fun and exciting for them.
- It feels in danger. When scared, baby raccoons will cling to anything that seems safe – even you. It may run behind you when you are afraid.
- You made eye contact. Staring triggers a defence mechanism in raccoons. Looking them in the eyes can cause them to follow you to avoid an attack.
If you suddenly have a little shadow, stay calm and don’t interact. Keep walking steadily without looking back. The kit will get bored or distracted and wander off soon. If it’s hurt or in distress, call Wildlife Rescue. Otherwise, mom is surely searching nearby, so let her find her wayward baby!
Why Are Raccoons Naturally Afraid of Humans?
Since raccoons are normally shy creatures that avoid confrontation, you may wonder why they developed a healthy fear of humans in the first place. Here are some reasons why raccoons are naturally wary of people:
- Instinct. Wild animals inherently fear humans due to their size, loud voices, and unpredictable movements. We’re scary!
- Hunting. Historically, raccoons were hunted by humans for food and fur. Those who avoided people survived to breed.
- Persecution. Many view raccoons as pests and still chase or threaten them to protect gardens, homes and trash cans.
- Lack of exposure. Rural raccoons rarely encounter humans, so they never acclimate. Urban raccoons get desensitized.
- Noise and lights. Raccoons startle easily from loud sounds, fast movements and bright lights that come with human activity.
- Dogs and cats. Household pets will chase, bark at and scare away raccoons instinctively.
- Vehicles. Cars and trucks can fatally hit raccoons. They’ve learned to steer clear of roads and driveways.
- Messing with dens. When humans disturb their dens and babies, mother raccoons become very frightened and protective.
- Trapping and relocating. Nuisance raccoons removed from homes by animal control learn to avoid people’s houses in the future.
Raccoons have enjoyed an ancient and well-deserved reputation as clever creatures. This intelligence comes from learning over time to be cautious of humankind in order to survive and thrive near us. Next time you see a raccoon slink away at the sight of you, you’ll understand why!