Wild Animals/Drooling Raccoon


Dear Dana,

Do raccoons drool from stress or just from illness?  The reason I am asking is because my two dogs cornered a raccoon on the railing of the balcony (the balcony is high off the ground). The raccoon seemed paralyzed by fear as it was just sitting there and let me approach to put the dogs on leashes. It was not shaking or aggressive and other than the drooling seemed quite healthy and alert.  Neither dog was scratched or bitten but I am wondering if I should be concerned about rabies.  

Thank you,


Dear Andrea,

I think it would be wise to ask your vet whether the rabies virus is endemic in the local population of raccoons and skunks.  If either dog came in contact with any of the raccoon's bodily fluids (e.g. saliva), they could be exposed to the virus if the raccoon was a carrier (he might not have an active disease, but can still carry the virus and transmit it to other animals).

If the dogs are vaccinated, then the risk of their actually getting rabies is minimal.  

It is very possible that the raccoon was just very frightened, and was doing the survival thing by just freezing and hoping the dogs would leave him alone.  But check with your vet to be sure your dogs' vaccinations are up to date, and whether you should be concerned at all.

I hope this helps.


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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