Raccoon / Rabies?

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When I got home from work the other day, I had a dead Raccoon in my Havahart trap. Is it normal for it to die in one day? It was hot, around 85, and it had some, but not full, protection from the sun. Maybe it was rabid, any suggestions? I was careful disposing of it and used heavy plastic gloves to handle the trap and didn't touch the raccoon. Thanks.

-- John Smith (doditoshon@go.com), June 21, 2001


John - I personally wouldn't be too afraid that it was Rabies. The smaller the animal, the faster they dehydrate. And with the heavy coat that a raccoon carries, I would guess that it probably died just from being in the heat. Was there any signs of illness - such as a bad coat, runny nose, or even saliva? I realize it was dead when you found it, but you may have been able to tell if it was ill.

-- Dianne (willow@config.com), June 21, 2001.

John, I would would go along with Diane on this. I hope you will use a little more forethought in setting out those traps next time! It would be pathetic to get someones cat and let it die like that. I do use havaheart traps sometimes(to catch and relocate skunks, etc)but am always carefull to check them late at night(and if you've caught something, set it in a protected, cool place, with water)and early in the morning. If you can't manage this, please don't set them. Common sense would dictate this.

-- Little Quacker (carouselxing@juno.com), June 21, 2001.

I'm a Veterinary Technician and Wildlife Rehabilitator, there is a risk that animal was rabid. Raccoons are one of the top Rabies Vector Species on the planet...don't get me wrong, I rehab them and I love them dearly, but they are all potential carriers of the virus.

A healthy raccoon should not die from heat exhaustion in 85 degree weather, period. It's very unlikely that he'd have reached a fatal dehydration rate in a 12-24 hour period. It's possible that the animal had some other illness like distemper, which is usually more common, but Rabies is a zoonotic disease and fatal to humans, therefore I wouldn't take a chance. You should call your local Animal Control or private Veterinarian, they can arrange for a post-mortem exam to determine the presence of the Rabies Virus. (The law states that if a Rabies Vector Species dies in captivity while a human has been exposed to it, the animal should be decapitated, and tested for the Rabies Virus.)

I don't mean to scare you, I just wish you would play it safe and have a necropsy done on the critter. There is no cure for the Human Rabies Virus, it is fatal...don't take the chance, call your Vet. The body should be destroyed by incineration, not burial...that is the only way to ensure disease is not spread.

Much Luck to you, ~Tauna

-- Tauna (K9Nurse911@aol.com), June 22, 2001.

I have to agree with Tauna, the animal was probably rabid.

We have a raccoon problem at my house, went out and bought a "Livekeep" cage. After we'd caught our first coon, we were unsure of how to release it, so called the State Dept. of Natural Resources.

They said (I'm quoting) "Kill it. Raccoons in Ohio have a high chance of carrying rabies and we don't encourage 'catch and release' for them, it's too risky."

As for disposal, I'd burn the carcass, otherwise another animal might eat it and become infected themselves. I'm not sure of the % of likelihood, but it might be possible...

-- Deb Mc. (not@this.time.pls), June 23, 2001.

Hey folks - raccoons die from other things besides rabies. And if being in the sun in 85 degrees doesn't warrant serious consequences, then why are there so many warnings out for making sure that animals are able to get in the shade and have water to drink? Yes, this raccoon could have had distemper, or even rabies, but viewing the circumstances, I opt for heat stroke.

-- Dianne (willow@config.com), June 24, 2001.

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