Sick Raccoon Symptoms, Signs of Distemper and More

Have you noticed an outdoor critter wandering through your yard? Are they damaging your gardens or getting into your garbage? More importantly, are you worried they might be dangerous to you, your kids or pets?

Wildlife, like raccoons, can get downright brazen about entering your yard and getting noticed. When do you know if you have to worry about them being there?

Learn all about sick raccoon symptoms to recognize when you should be worried about them being in your yard.

Warning Signs of Sickness

The theory used to be that if you saw a raccoon during the day, you should assume it is sick. That is actually not true. Raccoons may come out during the day, especially nursing mothers. They might come out to look for water or food during the day.

Sometimes the young raccoons will also come out during the day for the same reasons.

A raccoon who is out during the day will appear alert and attentive to their surroundings. In most situations, they will run away instead of attacking. Only a mother raccoon who feels the need to protect her young is likely to show aggression.

Raccoons who are sick and out in the daylight will show symptoms of being sick. These symptoms include:

  • Acting disoriented
  • Lethargic
  • Aggressive if cornered
  • Glassy eyed
  • Seizures

A sick raccoon may also appear bloated, or unusually thin with patterns of hair loss.

Diseases Causing Sickness

There are several diseases that raccoons can carry that also have noticeable symptoms.

Rabid Vector Series (RVS)

Raccoons are well-known carriers of rabies. A raccoon who is sick from Rabid Vector Series or RVS will display symptoms to let you know they are not well.

A rabid raccoon will display these symptoms:

  • Staggering gait
  • Not aware of the noise and the nearby movement
  • Erratic wandering
  • Matted or wet hair at the face
  • High pitch vocalization
  • Self-mutilation

If you see a raccoon with these symptoms, you want to stay away from it. It is best to call in a professional to deal with the sick raccoon.


Another common illness found in raccoons is Distemper. Raccoons can get both Canine Distemper and more rarely Feline Distemper.

Canine Distemper, which a measle related disease, can be very painful and deadly for raccoons. The symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge

Feline Distemper, another measle related disease, is less common than the canine version, but still something to be concerned about. This disease is less deadly for raccoons than the previous disease. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea and foamy vomiting.

While you would not be susceptible to catching these diseases from a raccoon, they could be risky for your pets that may come in contact with raccoon waste in your yard.

Watch for Sick Raccoon Symptoms

Certainly having nuisance wildlife in your yard is frustrating. They can be invasive looking for food in garbage cans or cause damage to your yard. Having sick wildlife in your yard is even worse.

Watch for these sick raccoon symptoms when you see the animals in your yard. If you need the advice of a professional, Contact NJ Pest Control today. We know how to address the problems of sick wildlife in an effective, safe and humane way in your yard.

We serve the counties of Morris, Bergen, Passaic, Union, Essex, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon and Somerset. Give us a call to see if we serve your town within the counties listed.