Raccoons, Rabies, and the Rest of the Story

A big shout out to Josh Olive, the esteemed publisher of WaterLine, for looking out for me.  I don’t always have time to write an article for the Charlotte Sun insert every week.  Sometimes I’m just too busy taking care of babies, patients, and residents of Peace River Wildlife Center, not to mention staff, volunteers, and board members (oh, no she di’ent).  It’s not like I’m just sitting around playing Candy Crush.  There are also times, and this will come as some surprise to anyone who knows me at all, I simply run out of things to say.


During just such a time recently, Josh reran one of my older articles.  How sweet that he presumed I was busy being overrun by baby squirrels and not that I was trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle on my iPad.  He picked that particular article, by his own admission, because he liked the picture of the cute little kitties that accompanied it.  Careful there, Josh, you will blow your macho cover.  Don’t worry, you’re secret is safe with me.  I would never reveal to anyone how much time you spend watching cat videos on YouTube.  (It’s okay, no one really reads this stuff, do they?)


I know for a fact most people don’t read everything in its entirety.  I got a lot of grief after the article about the bobcat kittens reran from people wanting to see them, not believing that we had bobcats, or wondering why I would lie about something like that.  Even though Josh had printed a disclaimer at the beginning of the article that it was a reprint.  My faithful WaterLine readers (yes, both of you!) aren’t the only ones who look at the picture, skim the headline, and make up their own story to fit their preconceived notion of what’s not right with the world.


PRWC has an active and very engaged following on Facebook.  While we love our followers, they need to carefully read a post before heatedly replying to it.  Noting International Raccoon Appreciation Day this past October 1st, we posted a few fun facts about that rascally species.  One of the things we mentioned was:


-Seeing a raccoon during the day doesn’t automatically mean it’s rabid. Healthy moms and juveniles can be seen during the day searching for food.


To which the following reply was made:


I really wish you would not have said ALL raccoon seen during daylight hours have rabies…I know the word ALL was not used, but it was implied by the post.


Really?  Because that’s not how I read it.  To repeat—just because a raccoon is out during the day does not mean it has rabies.  Quite the contrary, most raccoons will forage during daylight hours, particularly a mother and youngsters and especially if there is a source of food in the area.  Sources of food include food left out for cats or birds, unsecured trash receptacles, and tourists.  You all know who to whom I am referring.  The people that delight in feeding French fries to the “seagulls”, hot dogs to great blue herons, and marshmallows to raccoons and alligators.  I think indigenous peoples just told visitors that animals had bad diseases so they would leave them alone.  Like a mother telling a child the mother bird will smell if a human touched her baby.  Other than vultures, very few birds have any sense of smell at all.


Whoa, I kind of got off on a tangent there.  My point was…  Wait. What was my point?  I think it was a really good one too.  Maybe I’ll remember by next week.  In the meantime, don’t believe everything you think you read.  Especially if I wrote it.


by–Robin Jenkins, DVM


A recent raccoon patient with a pale coat.
A recent raccoon patient with a pale coat.
Baby Raccoons
Baby Raccoons