Rabid raccoons exhibit various symptoms; some display erratic behavior, such as staggering, drooling and making repeated calls, while others adopt a slow gait and move unusually slowly. Raccoons, like other nocturnal animals, develop one of two types of rabies: dumb and furious. Animals afflicted with dumb rabies suffer from disorientation or confusion; they appear in broad daylight and display unusual confidence around humans, adopting even serene and docile temperaments.
Animal experts identify several telltale symptoms affecting raccoons with both types of rabies. Unfortunately, symptoms suggesting dumb rabies mirror those of other illnesses, including lead poisoning and distemper, making an immediate diagnosis difficult. More often, raccoons develop furious rabies. In contrast to dumb rabies, furious rabies produces aggressive behavior and agitation. Animals with furious rabies suffer from hallucinations, and they might stare and bark at ordinary objects or bite the air.
Regardless of the type of rabies they carry, rabid raccoons pose dangers to humans and animals. The rabies virus, which affects the central nervous system, travels through the salivary glands. Raccoons only transmit the disease by biting people or pets; rabies does not transfer through water, air or waste products. The rabies virus affects other nocturnal creatures too, including coyotes, bats and skunks, producing the same symptoms as in raccoons.