North Georgia Wildlife Part 11 (Raccoons)
The raccoon is a stocky animal getting up to three feet in length and weighing between 8-20 pounds. Raccoons are found all throughout Georgia including the North Georgia Mountains in rural, suburban, and urban areas. They are highly adaptable and their populations thrive in most parts of the state. They typically den in hollow trees, ground burrows, or brush piles, but will readily use human structures like a barn, an attic, or an abandoned building as well. Raccoons are active throughout the year in North Georgia, but may remain in their dens during extreme winter weather. They are considered nocturnal, but will sometimes forage during the day when local conditions allow. Raccoons are omnivorous and very opportunistic! They feed on almost anything from a wide variety of plant and animal matter to table scraps found in the trash.
As with all wildlife, raccoons should not be approached or handled by humans if you should come into contact with one. One reason for this is their susceptibility to numerous diseases including canine distemper and parvovirus, in addition to rabies and raccoon roundworms. Even though raccoons may be carriers of rabies, not all raccoons have rabies. Typically, rabid raccoons will exhibit aimless wandering and lack of coordination, or they will exhibit aggressive behavior that can include attacks and self-mutilation.
Nuisance raccoons can cause health concerns for humans and their pets, but diseases are transferred only through direct contact. Simply being near a raccoon is not considered a risk and your pets should receive regular vaccinations from your veterinarian to reduce risk.
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