You should always use caution around any wildlife and not approach them or try to touch them.

If you see an animal in the daytime, it does not mean the animal has rabies.

These animals may include:

  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Skunks

If an animal appears healthy and is seen during the day, it may be unable to return to its den or is looking for food. Healthy wildlife, especially raccoons, may look for food in the twilight hours.

It is not unusual to see a raccoon at dusk or dawn.

If left alone, healthy wildlife will eventually return to their dens once they feel safe.

Raccoons can live and make their homes in urban areas because of the amount of food that is available. Raccoons around homes in New York City is not unusual. Raccoons usually live in dens in hollow trees, but in urban areas they can also live in garages, abandoned buildings, rock piles, fireplace chimneys, hollow walls, attics, or beneath sewer drains. If a raccoon is found living around your home, it is recommended that you consult a licensed wildlife trapper and not attempt to trap a raccoon yourself.

Raccoons are attracted to any home where food is available. You can take steps to keep raccoons and other wildlife from making a home around where  you live by following these guidelines:

  • Do not feed pets outside
  • Purchase raccoon-proof garbage cans or put a weight on the lids of other garbage cans
  • Do not leave bags of garbage on the ground
  • Eliminate conditions on property that can be used as dens

Some raccoons have tested positive for canine distemper virus in:

  • Central Park
  • Pelham Bay Park
  • Alley Pond Park
  • Prospect Park

Although the virus cannot be transmitted to humans, it may be transmitted to dogs. The symptoms of canine distemper virus can include: 

  • Confused behavior
  • Spasms
  • Trouble breathing
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aggression

Dog owners should make sure their dogs have up-to-date distemper and rabies vaccinations. You and your pets should always keep a safe distance from wildlife, and never approach a wild animal.

In the event that a person is bitten:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water immediately.
  • Call a doctor or go to an emergency room for testing.

In the event that a pet comes in contact with a sick raccoon, they should receive treatment from a veterinarian immediately.

Call 311 for assistance by phone.

You can get a fact sheet called "Raccoons in New York City: What You Need to Know." 

This fact sheet explains how you can humanely remove raccoons from your property, discourage them from returning, and what to do if you are bitten or scratched by a raccoon.


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