Earlier today a reader on Brownstoner posted some photos of some huge raccoons that invaded the reader’s back yard in Boerum Hill, scrounging for food and surely up to no good.
A number of other readers responded with stories of similar sightings as well as warnings about the animals because, after all, they look so darn cute! But they are of course wild animals that can carry all kinds of diseases.
The actual danger they pose was contested, however, so we thought maybe a wee bit of research and education may be in order.
Raccoons can carry rabies, which is deadly and can be spread via bites. They also can have a parasite called Raccoon Roundworm, which does not typically cause symptoms in raccoons, but can be deadly for people. Humans can become infected by “putting contaminated fingers, soil, or objects into their mouths.” (CDC) So just don’t eat or lick anything that these guys have walked on or touched ok?
That being said, confirmed cases of folks contracting diseases from Raccoons are extremely rare. While fatal diseases are nothing to take lightly, panic is unjustified.
In terms of danger to pets, Raccoons are omnivores and somewhere around 25% of their diet is made up of “vertebrates.” Raccoons do not usually pretty on domestic cats and dogs thankfully, although isolated cases have been recorded.
At the same time there are some great youtube videos of cats and raccoons eating together out of the same bowl.
So keep a look out Boerum Hill, the masked bandits may indeed be raiding your back yard, but if you take basic precautions (if you have them, do read up about them on CDC), they should only be an amusing nuisance and nothing more.