A few recent incidents around the country have put sick raccoons in focus. But, rest assured those occurrences are not something to be alarmed about. Rather, they are incidents that call for awareness.
In the recent years, there have been several occurrences of raccoon distemper in the country. However, one specific case triggered some locals to believe the illness was caused by rabies.
Last month, a man was allegedly pursued and chased by a raccoon. It was reported by a dispatch officer from the Animal Services that the creature bit the toe of the man’s boots.
The animal in question was captured and put down. Also, blood tests have been conducted. The results showed that it was not raccoon rabies. Instead, it was Canine Distemper Virus.
As of the moment, the representative for Toronto Animal Services, Tammy Robinson, clarified there have been no recorded cases of raccoon rabies. But, there could be chances that some of these animals are affected only by Canine Distemper Virus, which subsists within a certain raccoon population.
He said that these creatures may behave violently, especially if they are ill, troubled from their habitat, are being defensive, or feel in jeopardy.
It is easy to distinguish a distempered raccoon. More often, it displays changes in behavior. It seems to walk blindly and experiences seizures. Mucus might also build up around its eyes and nose.
If you notice a raccoon is acting strange, Robinson’s suggest you call 311. If possible, do not get close to it. Do not even attempt to feed it.
Then again, similar incidents involving distempered raccoons have already been reported around East York. Effie Papadopoulos, a local from East York, came across with a raccoon that is acting abnormally.
She recalled that the raccoon was trying to get into her house last month. It was going in a back and forth motion for more than three hours. The animal’s odd behavior made her decide to call Toronto Animal Services.
She also added the creature’s eyes were filled with pus. Unfortunately, by the time assistance arrived, the raccoon had already left.
As a general rule, sick raccoons should be put to death after being caught. Robinson explained that there is a zero chance of survival for a distempered raccoon. So, the best and most benevolent thing they can do is to euthanize it.
If ever you have a raccoon encounter, Mary Lou Leiher, program director of Toronto Animal Services, has important tips for you.
Observe caution. If a raccoon looks as if it is approaching you, move away. It is not a behavior you should expect from a healthy animal. Also, if you see it walking around in circles and seems like it keeps on tripping over again and again, looking worn out, and have bad discharge from their nose and eyes, the animal is likely to have the symptoms of canine distemper virus.
They mostly hibernate during winter. At this time, they should be spending their time sleeping, but they aren’t really true hibernators. Sometimes, they go out of their shelters and mate.
They prefer high places. By nature, raccoons reside in elevated areas such as trees. But, there are these rare instances when you find them building their nests at the top of a building or even in your home’s attic. Of course, they can do that easily. After all, they are expert climbers.
They can infest your property. If you want them out of your sight, you should be aware of the importance of garbage management. With their decreasing habitat and food sources, these creatures find ways to resolve hunger and be able to survive. That is why if they see piles of garbage, they would not think twice about seeking shelter. Then again, your home could also be a great habitat for them. To deter them, be sure you restrict entry and be sure no food sources are available.
Interestingly, in 2015, Canine Distemper Virus cases rose among the raccoon population in the Greater Toronto Area. Luckily, the outbreak eventually levelled off.
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