How Do Raccoons Protect Themselves?

Alan Vernon/Moment/Getty Images

While not typically aggressive unless sick or cornered, a raccoon is capable of defending itself using its sharp teeth and claws. Raccoon bites have been known to cause fractures in the bones of small animals. A bite also has the potential to transmit disease.

Raccoons’ non-retractable claws are ideal for helping them climb trees. However, these claws make formidable weapons when the need arises.

Since they are omnivores, raccoons have extremely sharp front teeth for tearing through meat.

For its size the raccoon is a relatively strong animal with powerful, long back legs that allow it to spring toward a person or another animal.

If a raccoon bites or scratches a person or someone’s pet, a visit to the hospital or veterinary clinic as soon as possible is necessary; some raccoons carry rabies, which when left untreated is usually fatal in humans and other animals.

Wildlife experts advise people to avoid picking up or cornering raccoons. They suggest that if someone sees a raccoon behaving strangely or aggressively, call the local animal-control department or, if it is after business hours, call the police. Experts warn against attempting to trap or capture a raccoon without specialist help, as this is likely to provoke the animal and increase the chances of injury.