Does this raccoon need medical attention?
December 3, 2004 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Raccoon in a dumpster. Girlfriend's place of employment has raccoons caught in the dumpster like clockwork every Friday (pickup is Thursday night and no amount of effort will get the company to latch it.) She usually puts a board in and lets them climb out at their leisure. One has been sleeping in the corner all day and won't move even when prodded. Is he just being nocturnal, or does he need medical attention? (Animal control hasn't returned her call and she's worried for him).
posted by Mayor Curley to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
IANAACO but it's very possible it's rabid. It will probably be dead within a day, which is for the best. Leave it alone. If it's healthy it'll climb out on it's own once everyone leaves it alone.

My experience with calling animal control has not been great. I saw a very sick looking coyote wandering around in the burbs and when I called them I could hear them shrugging over the phone.
posted by bondcliff at 12:43 PM on December 3, 2004

If it is sick, calling animal control won't result in "medical attention" for the animal. Raccoons are cute, but they're generally considered pests, and animal control will almost certainly treat it as such.
posted by bonheur at 12:45 PM on December 3, 2004

I would go here, find the nearest wildlife rehab place, call and ask them if that is normal. Doesn't sound like it to me.

They will probably come get it if they think it's not well. The wildlife rehab place that I volunteered for would do almost anything for a raccoon.

I probably don't need to tell you that she should absolutely not try to catch it herself.
posted by free pie at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2004

At the risk of overreacting, I'd always assume that a raccoon is rabid. Especially one so druggy-seeming. Avoid avoid avoid.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2004

I just spoke to my Mom, who does wildlife rescue/rehab/release, and she says that's unusual behavior. They are nocturnal, but she says it's odd for one to be unresponsive like that. If you get close or prod him, he should wake up and snarl, etc. They don't hibernate or go into a deep, unresponsive sleep naturally.

Don't go in there. If he's asleep and you wake him suddenly, he may react aggressively. If he's hurt, same thing. If he's dead, you can't do anything.

Get animal control in there as soon as you can. When my mom handles raccoons she wears thick leather gloves that go up past her elbows, and she knows what she's doing. She's still usually covered in scratches.
posted by scarabic at 12:56 PM on December 3, 2004

Oh, and I second the suggestion to call a wildlife rescue operation first. They will give the animal much better attention if he has any chance of survival. My mom's operation will even keep an animal that isn't well enough to re-release to the wild, and use it as part of an educational museum they keep up.

You may be as surprised as I was to learn that when they can rehabilitate a raccoon to a fully healthy state, they will release him/her as close as possible to the site where s/he was found. This might mean driving him out to that dumpster and setting him loose. It's not "wilderness," but it is, in fact, raccoon habitat.
posted by scarabic at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice-- there's an Audubon farm/wildlife facility in the same town, and she's going to give them a call if he doesn't get going by five.

(And the first thing I said was "Don't get too close to him." My great uncle was the last person to die from rabies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2004

I say let it die. It's not like there is any shortage of raccoons in this world, and especially a shortage of disease-spreading garbage-eating raccoons.

And this isn't nearly as heartless as it sounds: it is a wild animal, and wild animals have brutal, short lives. 'sway the world works.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:06 PM on December 3, 2004

Maybe someone threw away a dead raccoon?

I second the recommendation not to meddle with the raccoon or its corpse. Bats, squirrels and raccoons are vectors for rabies, bubonic plague, and other nasties. Not that there's anything intrinsically evil about those animals - I like furry things as much as the next fella - but you don't want rabies, trust me on this one.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:29 PM on December 3, 2004

I'd leave it alone -- it's rabid or sick and in a dumpster. This isn't a domestic animal and I would let nature (and your local sanitation company) take its course.
posted by cedar at 2:59 PM on December 3, 2004

I would let nature (and your local sanitation company) take its course.

I would bet your local sanitation worker would love that when the half-dead rabid racoon comes shooting out of the dumpster...
posted by MrZero at 4:30 PM on December 3, 2004

Dude: rabid. We had a nice spurt of rabid racoons back when I still ived at my parents, so I'm clearly an expert. If it looks drunk* and unimpressed with you, it's probably rabid.

*Obviously time spent at racoon bars** helps one make this determination.
**Which, interestingly, are closed at night.

posted by yerfatma at 5:32 PM on December 3, 2004

I undertsand she doesn't want them stuck in the dumpster, but I think that them being "trapped" is probably not going to happen. Those are smart animals, and they need to learn to not get stuck, or how to get out. God forbid she gets a different job and they're stuck in there getting fat waiting for her to come give them a ramp. Not to mention, those are tough, fast little critters -- I would say not to get that close in the first place.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:30 PM on December 3, 2004

Not only is it probably rabid, but racoons carry deadly brain parasites in their feces...
posted by reverendX at 6:52 PM on December 3, 2004

Of course, if it is rabid and does bite you, we'll pray for your recovery! Works every time.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on December 3, 2004

An animal rescue program might not take it because of overpopulation and the possibility of rabies, but try that first anyway. Then just go for animal control. It would be a very bad idea to leave rabid or rotting raccoons in there.
posted by Anonymous at 11:26 PM on December 3, 2004

I would guess the one that won't stir is short for this world. God bless his soul. To prevent future incursions I recommend ammonia. For a dumpster, probably a whole gallon just poured right in. If repeated over weeks or more the raccoons will hopefully forget about this location and move on to more hospitable locals.
posted by caddis at 11:59 PM on December 3, 2004

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