Rabies, Raccoons and Skunks During the Day

Concerns Regarding Rabies
While the rabies virus is on decline, it is still infecting wildlife in our area.  Raccoons and skunks are the most common wildlife to contract rabies.  Here are some signs of the rabies virus in these species:

  • Disoriented and sick stage: The animal may stagger about or move very slowly, seemingly with little purpose.  The animal may walk in an extremely uncoordinated way and wander into objects.
  • Aggressive rabies behavior:  Aggressive behaviors can include unprovoked fighting with dogs, cats and porcupines, which may be demonstrated by the animal having quills embedded in their faces.  Attacking inanimate objects, screaming and walking on hot pavement are other concerning behaviors.
  • Dumb stage: An animal may be over friendly with humans and will not leave when yelled at.  They may have paralysis in their hind legs and have stiffness and trouble moving around.  One of the last signs of rabies is the frothing at the mouth, which is called saliva pooling.

Raccoons and skunks are nocturnal animals, meaning that they usually do not come out during daylight hours.  However, you may still see healthy animals out during the day, especially in the spring.  Raccoons and skunks may come out during the day to gather food, especially if they have young.  These animals have their young in the spring and may be seen in daylight hours as they come out to eat.  Females need to eat more to produce milk to feed their young.  In addition, if there has been a deep snow pack from the winter, spring will bring a lot of wildlife activity during the day as animals search for food.  Most other wildlife have their young in the spring as well.