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Raccoons are easy to recognize. They have a masked face and a bushy, ringed tail. Raccoons can weigh as much as 50 pounds and are 23 to 38 inches long. Raccoons are nocturnal, which means they are active at night.

Diet:  Raccoons are omnivores (eat plants or meat). They eat fish, grapes, nuts, crickets, mice, and other small animals.

Habitat: Raccoons are native to  North and South America.  They live in almost every part of the United States, except parts of the Rocky Mountain states and Hawaii.

Most raccoons are healthy and harmless, but raccoons can be infected with rabies. In 2001 in the United States, 2,767 raccoons were positive for rabies. Signs of rabies in raccoons include having no fear of humans, acting aggressively, or acting listless and being out during the day.


You should never touch or approach a wild raccoon. Do not feed raccoons. If you see a raccoon acting strangely, have an adult call the local animal control officer.



This map shows positive cases of raccoon rabies in the United States in 2001.  It is important to know that any raccoon anywhere can have the disease, not just the states that found rabies in raccoons in 2001. Always be careful of any raccoon you see behaving strangely.

US map showing districution of rabies cases in raccoons, 2001

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Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch (VRZB)
Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases (DVRD)
National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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This page last reviewed February 6, 2003

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