Do raccoons come out during the day? It’s not unusual to see a raccoon out during the day, especially in areas that humans frequent.
If you see a raccoon out in the daytime, it’s tempting to want to keep the cute little critters around your home. I’ve even known people who regularly set out pet food for raccoon families.
However, seeing raccoons can also be worrying because they can carry several dangerous diseases to humans and pets. This article explores when raccoons usually come out and why and the risks their diseases can pose
- Looking for Food
- Disturbed or Scared Out of Den
- Traveling to Another Den
- Scavenging Food for Their Litter
Do Raccoons Come Out During the Day?
It’s not unusual to see a raccoon during the day, especially around your home. However, you’re less likely to see them come out in the day in the wild because they feel safer from predators in the dark.
Are Raccoons Nocturnal?
Raccoons are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal in the wild, which means that they are primarily active during twilight and at night.
However, in populated areas, raccoons are not strictly crepuscular and nocturnal. Thus, it’s not unusual to see them out during the daytime, especially when they’re searching for food in an environment that feels relatively safe from natural predators.
Thus, you’re more likely to see them by day in an urban rather than rural setting.
Raccoons Have Better Vision at Night
One of the main reasons you won’t see raccoons out during the day in the wild is that they have better vision at night. Raccoons don’t have great distance vision, which often causes them to avoid open spaces, especially during the day.
Their distance vision is even worse during the day when light reflection makes their eyesight less reliable. However, the trademark mask around their eyes helps absorb incoming light, which reduces incoming light glare that would otherwise hinder their vision.
However, having less light coming into their eyes at night makes it easier to see objects.
Their Acute Sense of Hearing Is Valuable at Night
Raccoons hear sounds at frequencies between 100 and 40,000 Hz. This frequency range isn’t as wide as it is for dogs (67-45,000 Hz) or cats (45-64,000), but it’s far better than the human hearing range (64-23,000 Hz).
Having a wide hearing frequency range, especially in the higher frequencies, gives them an advantage for hearing prey or food approaching their location at night. They can hear snapping twigs, rustling leaves, or mouse squeaks to alert them of incoming animals.
Highly-Sensitive Hands is Crucial to Raccoons Feeding at Night
Raccoons make up for their poor eyesight with incredibly-sensitive, hairless palms. Their dextrous front paws contain around four times more sensory receptors than their back paws. Thus, they’re more easily able to feed at night through differentiating objects without needing to see them.
If you’ve ever seen a raccoon washing its food, it’s engaging in a process called dousing. Wetting their hands helps stimulate their nerve endings even more to give them more sensory information about the object they are touching.
Where Do Raccoons Live During the Day?
In the wild, raccoons use dens as a place to shelter and raise their young during the day. Some areas that raccoons use as dens include:
- Tree hollows
- Hollow logs
- Rock piles
- Brush piles
- Wood duck nest boxes
- Abandoned buildings
- Attics and barn lofts
- Crawl spaces beneath buildings
- Abandoned vehicles
Adult males may travel an area of 3-20 square miles, while adult females only travel in an area of 1-6 square miles.
Of course, in a neighborhood, raccoons may spend time during the day foraging for food as they would at night if they lived in the wood instead.
Is a Raccoon Active During Daytime Rabid?
If you see a raccoon out in the daytime, that doesn’t mean that it’s rabid. However, it is a good idea to know the symptoms to look for in a rabid raccoon to keep your and your pets safe.
Symptoms of Rabies in Raccoons
It’s not always clear that animals like raccoons have rabies just from looking at them. Not all rabid animals drool and act aggressive like the movies would have you think. However, if a raccoon is acting in a way you wouldn’t expect, it may be a cause for concern.
Some symptoms of rabies in raccoons may include:
- Exhibiting signs of sickness
- Having difficulty swallowing
- Drooling or salivating excessively
- Acting overly aggressive
- Biting imaginary objects
- Acting more tame than usual
- Having difficulty moving
- Being paralyzed
If you’ve had any physical contact with a raccoon that is exhibiting any signs of rabidity–especially if they bit or scratched you–you should contact a healthcare professional immediately. Rabies is nearly always fatal in humans that don’t begin rabies vaccinations after the acute period of the disease (within 2-10 days after a bite).
The only way to definitively determine if an animal is rabid is through laboratory testing. However, you should contact a professional to capture it for testing if you suspect rabies.
Why Would a Raccoon Be Out During the Day?
Raccoons come out in the day to look for food, in avoidance of predators, or to travel between dens.
Looking for Food
Humans have destroyed much of the raccoon’s natural habitat in the last few decades. Raccoons forage for insects, water creatures, birds, eggs, slugs, dead animals, fruits, nuts, and seeds in the wild. However, in residential areas, they may scavenge through garbage, eat from your garden, or eat pet food instead.
In fact, the raccoon population has drastically increased in the last few decades because of their adaptation to living around people in urban and suburban environments away from their natural predators.
Without having to worry about predators like coyotes, wildcats, and wolves in an urban setting, they’re more likely to brave the daytime for food-scavenging purposes. Although, they do sometimes have to worry about domestic dogs.
In human-populated areas, it’s far more likely for a raccoon to forage by day and retreat to the woods for sleep by night.
Disturbed or Scared Out of Den
A raccoon’s sense of hearing and smell can help to alert them that there is a threat nearby. Even if they’re hidden away in their den, if they sense a predator, they may decide it’s safer to leave their den than stick around and see what happens.
Traveling to Another Den
You may see raccoons out and about when they’re traveling to their den or between dens.
Raccoons don’t hibernate in winter and tend to change out their resting sites every few days unless they’re protecting their babies in a den during a period of cold weather. It’s not uncommon for several raccoons to share the same den during a winter storm.
If a predator scares a raccoon out of its den, the raccoon may travel to another den that they know is safer from that particular predator. A small space deep underneath something may provide more protection from a large predator than the den they’re currently using.
Scavenging Food for Their Litter
A raccoon mother usually gives birth to litters of 1-8 baby raccoon kits in late April or early May. For the first few weeks, she will only leave the den to get enough food for herself to produce more milk for her babies. She won’t go too far away while her babies are still helpless.
She will feed the kits milk until she weans them at ages two or four months old, so starting between June and September, her forays out of the den will be to scavenge food for herself and her babies.
However, when the kits start eating solid food, the mother will begin taking the kits out on food-gathering expeditions with her. It’s not uncommon to see a mother carrying one of her kits in her mouth on these quests.
By or shortly after their first birthday, all of the kits will have left home, so the mother will no longer need to scavenge any food for them.
Do Raccoons Pose a Threat?
Raccoons can carry several diseases, including:
- Canine distemper
- Raccoon parvoviral enteritis
- Canine hepatitis
Are Raccoons Dangerous to Humans?
Luckily, not all the diseases that raccoons can carry are usually transmissible to humans. The most common illnesses that humans catch from raccoons are rabies and roundworm. However, the others humans can catch can also be serious.
Most human exposure to these diseases comes from bites, scratches, or contact with infected food, water, or soil.
Baylisacaris procyonis is a type of roundworm specific to raccoons. Human infections are rare, but the parasite can invade your eyes, organs, or brain. Severe symptoms could include liver enlargement, loss of coordination or muscle control, blindness, coma, or death.
Roundworm eggs pass through the feces of infected raccoons, and humans can catch it through:
- Contact with infected water
- Contact with infected soil
- Contact with infected food
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can result in kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory problems, and sometimes even death. Humans can catch leptospirosis from raccoons through:
- Contact with their urine
- Contact with their blood
- Contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with infected urine
Toxoplasmosis is a common parasitic infection from the Toxoplasma parasite. Over 40 million people in the US are carriers of the disease without illness.
However, women who catch Toxoplasma during or immediately before pregnancy may lose their child or give birth to a child with an abnormal-sized head. It can also cause severe infections and symptoms in people with compromised immune systems.
People can catch Toxoplasmosis from raccoons through:
- Accidentally ingesting the parasite through consuming food or water that has come into contact with infected feces
- Accidentally ingesting the parasite through contaminated soil exposure from gardening or eating unwashed garden produce
Pasteurellosis is a bacterial infection that usually affects a wound or causes respiratory problems. Humans can get Pasteurellosis from a raccoon through:
- Inhaling aerosol droplets
- Ingestion of food or water contaminated from nasal or oral discharges from an infected animal
Tularemia is a bacterial infection that can be mild to life-threatening in humans. Humans can contract Tularemia from a raccoon in the following ways:
- Bites from ticks and deer flies that have fed on infected raccoons
- Skin contact with an infected animal
- Drinking water contaminated by a raccoon
What To Do About Racoon Latrines
One source of Raccoons posing a danger to humans is having contact with a raccoon latrine. Raccoons defecate in communal latrine sites. You’re more likely to encounter a cache of their tubular, pungent feces in the following locations:
- Around the base and forks of trees
- On raised surfaces like rocks, logs, and stumps
- On your deck or patio
- In your attic or garage
If you find a latrine in an area near or in your home, cleaning the latrine can reduce your family’s risk of exposure.
What To Do If You See a Raccoon During the Day?
If you see a raccoon during the day, you should avoid contact and get children out of the area. You can try scaring them away with loud noises.
If you see a raccoon near your home during the day, you will want to discourage them from taking up residence and using your home as a source of food or shelter. Ways to prevent Raccoons around your home include:
- Preventing access to human and pet food
- Keeping trash lids closed
- Closing access to attics, basements, crawl spaces, and outbuildings
- Covering sandboxes that they may use as a latrine
- Removing fish ponds or other water sources they use for food or water
- Removing bird feeders
- Clearing brush piles
- Filling in known den sites
Final Thoughts Seeing Raccoons in the Daytime
Do raccoons come out during the day? If you see a raccoon during the daytime, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Most likely, it’s just foraging for food or traveling to its den.
However, having a cute raccoon family living near your home has a lot of hidden dangers. Exposure to raccoon diseases through bites, scratches, and infected water, food, or soil can have detrimental effects on humans and pets. Thus, it’s best to discourage them from visiting altogether.
Raccoons During the Day FAQs
Here are some other questions you might have about seeing raccoons during the day.