Are Racoons Scavengers

Why are raccoons scavengers ?

Wiki User
October 27, 2015 10:09PM

Raccoons are not primarily scavengers by nature. However, a

raccoon will, as any animal, gladly accept carrion or garbage as

food. It is a free meal that they have to expend very little energy

Raccoons: From Scavengers To Predators

Raccoon attacks are a growing menace in North America, particularly in Vancouver, Canada, where raccoons seem to have learned to hunt for prey. These original scavengers now appear to be mimicking a hunting strategy commonly associated with hyenas. In Vancouver, the list of attacks from raccoons are growing yearly, with advice from local authorities as well as animal experts seemingly unable to avert the alarming trend.

In a Global News report about a raccoon attack against a woman and her dogs in December of last year, Randy Celinski, the owner and president of AAA Wildlife Control, said that the attacking animal was most likely sick, possibly from rabies.

Celinski added, “Raccoons are prone to aggressive behavior during mating season which runs from mid-December to May. There are steps you can take, especially during that period, to ensure you and your pets safety…not to walk near any bushed areas or areas where wild animals may be hiding, whether it be a skunk or a raccoon..If they are approached by a human or a dog, for example, then they may be in more of an attack mode.”

Following the wildlife control expert’s advice could have prevented similar attacks by raccoons in New Jersey and in Henrico, Virginia, the Inquisitr previously reported in two separate articles. In any case, the raccoon in question may be either sick from rabies or startled by a garden visitor. However, for the city of Vancouver, raccoons on the rampage seem to be more and more motivated by a mixture of natural evolution and learned behavior.

Celinski shed’s light on how this development might have come about in the city.

“The primary reason why raccoons are not afraid to approach is residents and tourists feeding them. They become more accustomed to people, not afraid of people and almost looking to people for free handouts.”

This will explain why even during the summer, when the mating season is not the issue for raccoon aggression in Vancouver, raccoons are known to attack humans particularly in Stanley Park in broad daylight. These animals are supposed to be nocturnal creatures, and as such, are usually active during the night. But through an odd mixture of nature and nurture, they have evolved into predators under city conditions or after co-existing with humans in modern times.

A photo posted by Scorpio1814 (@scorpio1814) on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:33pm PDT

What Are Raccoons Scared Of?

Raccoons are animals that are often considered to be cute by those who haven’t had them particularly close to their property, but people who have had to deal with raccoons will know that they can also be a real nuisance. These furry creatures are known to be very effective scavengers, and this has meant that they have thrived in urban areas, discovering food sources and finding new nesting spots in a very different habitat to their natural habitat. Understanding what will scare raccoons can make a big difference to being able to deal with them as a property owner, although there are plenty of things that can have the opposite effect on raccoons too. After this you might want to read Raccoon Prevention Tips.

The Natural Predators Of Raccoons

One of the key natural survival instincts for any animal is to know when to flee, and one of the main fears that many raccoons will have is a fear of their natural predators, although this will often be stronger in those raccoons living in rural areas where they are more likely to encounter predators. Because raccoons are fairly large animals themselves, their predators will usually be quite large also, with animals such as coyotes and bobcats often seeing a raccoon as prey. One interesting aspect is that the Greater Horned Owl can also prey on raccoons, but due to their size will usually be more likely to kill younger animals rather than fully grown adults.

Are Raccoons Scared Of Dogs?

There are several answers to this question, and in reality it will largely depend on the size and the aggression displayed by your dog towards the raccoon, as larger dogs that show some aggression will often scare the raccoon away. On the other hand, curious smaller dogs are unlikely to scare a raccoon away, so it depends on how the raccoon behaves. You certainly shouldn’t encourage your dog to fight a raccoon though, as raccoons are certainly not shrinking violets when they are cornered, and if they are then they will attack even larger dogs, and can cause nasty injuries and even transmit diseases to your pet.

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Will Floodlights Scare Raccoons Away?

This is an interesting question, as there are plenty of guides online that suggest floodlights are an effective way to keep raccoons away from your property, although it is also worth noting that having permanent floodlights around a yard or garden could get very expensive. It is true that raccoons will feel exposed if they are in an area flooded with light, so may well look to flee, unless they are so used to the light that it no longer fazes them. In terms of installing such a system, the consensus is that a motion sensor operated system works best, and one using LED floodlights that saturate the area with light will be cost effective, while also being a sufficient deterrent to raccoons.

Raccoons And Repellent

One of the things that you will see has a prominent position on the shelves in many hardware stores and garden centers are products that claim to be able to repel all kinds of different animals, including raccoons. There are all kinds of different types of products too, but in truth there are no really effective repellents that will get rid of a raccoon for you, and in the vast majority of situations these are only chemicals with a strong smell such as ammonia or mothballs. The one situation where it can work is if you have a female with babies in a confined space such as an attic, and there is evidence to suggest in this instance that predator urine can work as a repellent, but in most cases you will need to look at other ways to remove your problem raccoon.

You can also read the opposite: What Attracts Raccoons?

Go back to the Raccoon Removal page. Or, you can read about how to get raccoons out of the attic since that is where they commonly live, or you can read my general how to get rid of raccoons guide. I do not advocate killing these animals. Read why on my how to kill a raccoon page. Often the best method is trapping and removal read about raccoon trapping tips here. Many people ask about what bait to use for raccoons if catching them in a cage. Or better yet, prevention is often the best approach. I have listed several techniques for how to keep raccoons away. If you don’t know for sure that it is a raccoon, but you have fecal evidence, you might want to look at my raccoon poop photos. And remember, there is no effective raccoon repellent. So if you have a problem with these animals, you will have to do the work necessary or hire a professional.

10 Interesting Facts About Raccoons

Raccoons Have High IQ Levels

When considering the mammal IQ scale, raccoons rank closer to humans than most people would normally think. In general, monkeys are ranked right below humans and great apes, and with raccoons scoring average IQ levels below monkeys, they are considerably close to human IQ levels as well. In addition to their high IQ scores, raccoons are known to have evolving intelligence and methods of thinking. They are able to learn from past experiences and engage in critical and problem-solving thinking when obstacles arise. Moreover, as a result of their notable intelligence, raccoons were once candidates for lab testing alongside rats and monkeys but were discarded for being too smart, adaptive and strong-willed.

Raccoons Can Make Over 50 Different Noises

Raccoons have a large array of vocalizations. In fact, studies have determined that these animals can make over 51 different sounds that communicate different things! They hiss, purr and growl when competing for food. Younger raccoons often chirp and squeal and raccoons with rabies often exhibit extremely high-pitched squeals.

Raccoons Have Special Paws

Similar to human hands, raccoons embody five dexterous toes on each of their front paws that essentially function as human fingers. This gives them the ability to easily grasp things, scavenge for food and lift the lids off of trashcans -something they are notorious for doing. Another interesting feature of raccoon paws includes the abundance of nerves that allow them to become extra sensitive and send messages to the brain – when underwater, raccoons use this sensitivity to examine objects. Raccoons also have special feet that are able to rotate 180 degrees which allows them to climb up and down trees head first.

See also:  What Noise Does A Raccoon Make At Night

It was planned to conduct laboratory studies of such drugs as Levitra.

Raccoons Can Move At High Speeds

Raccoons are scavengers and are consequently always on the move searching for their food. In addition to walking, these animals are fast runners as well. In fact, raccoons can run at speeds as fast as 15 miles per hour, not only on solid ground but also while climbing up and down trees, and if dropped from a height of 35 to 40 meters, they can still remain unharmed. In addition to running with agility, raccoons are also able to swim to escape from predators and catch prey to meet their dietary needs.

Raccoons Are Nocturnal

Raccoons are nocturnal and are therefore asleep for majority of the day and are most active at night. Moreover, there are many myths claiming that seeing a raccoon up during daylight hours indicates that it is rabid. This is not true as there are many reasons as to why a raccoon may be awake, such as the availability of food during the daytime.

Raccoons Are Extremely Skillful

Raccoons are commonly associated with wild, violent and vicious behaviour; however, this is not always the case and are actually quite skillful. As a result of their notable intelligence, people have been able to train raccoons to mirror the same basic skills that the average human toddler possesses, such as clapping and dancing.

Raccoons Can Survive Almost Anywhere

Raccoons were originally found in natural tropical areas but overtime, especially throughout the twentieth-century, they have managed to migrate and were then introduced to a wider array of habitats ranging from mountainous terrains to crowded cities; this is because of their noteworthy and uncommon ability to adapt to foreign environments. When considering their survivability, the average life expectancy of raccoons is typically between two to three years in the wild. The reasoning behind this low expectancy rate is simply cars and the expansion of roads and highways – raccoon death rates have increased because of countless roadkill incidents. However, they can live up to 20 years in captivity where they remain safe from road-related accidents.

Raccoons Do Not Have Life-Partners

Unlike wolves, beavers and other animals that mate for life, raccoons often have more than one mating partner. In fact, male raccoons attempt to mate with multiple females each season while female raccoons generally mate with one partner. Unlike other animals, male raccoons have nothing to do with raising their offspring and all of the responsibility falls on the mother as she raises her newborns alone.

Raccoons Have A Special Name

The scientific name for raccoons is Procyon lotor which is neo-Latin for ‘before-dog washer’. In 1780, scientist Gottlieb Congrad created a separate genus for the species Procyon which translates to dog-like, however raccoons and dogs are not related while raccoons surprisingly remain a close relative of the bear family. In addition to the latin name, the English word raccoon was derived from the Proto-Algonquian language and means “one who rubs, scrubs, and scratches with its hands”, which accurately describes this species.

Raccoons Love The City

Although they originated from earthly and natural habitats, raccoons love the city life! In fact, Toronto is one of the most raccoon populated cities in the world; approximately fifty times more raccoons live there than in neighboring suburban areas. Consequently, not only do crowded cities provide them with lots of space to scavenge around, but they also provide raccoons with easily accessible food resources. You guessed it – trash bins. With this being said you might want to keep in mind some raccoon proofing knowledge and a phone number of a reliable wildlife removal company!

If you notice signs of wildlife in your house give us a call. At SOS Wildlife Control Inc., we provide raccoon removal service, squirrel control services for residential, commercial, and industrial clients, guaranteeing effective results every single time. Let us help you solve your wildlife problems. Taking action before it’s too late will help eliminate animal damage repair costs. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year for emergency services, and can easily be reached at 1-800-981-0330. Don’t wait, call us to schedule an appointment for a thorough inspection, removal and prevention to help evacuate all your unwanted wildlife guests in the most humane way possible.

Call SOS Wildlife 1-800-981-0330!

Difference Between Scavenger and Decomposer

July 30, 2011 Posted by Naveen

The key difference between scavenger and decomposer is that the scavenger is an organism which feeds on dead plants, animals or carrion and breaks down them into smaller pieces while the decomposer is an organism which decays the small pieces of organic matter left by the scavengers.

Producers, consumers, and decomposers are the three most important components in an ecosystem. However, another type of organisms called scavengers start the decomposing process and facilitate the real decomposing process. Hence, they are essential components of any ecosystem in the recycling of resources. In simple terms, the world would be an unpleasant garbage dump without scavengers and decomposers. They clean all the leftover materials in ecosystems. However, though the scavengers and decomposers mainly function as cleaners, their respective roles are different. In this article, we will be discussing the difference between scavenger and decomposer in detail.

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What is a Scavenger?

Scavenging is a type of feeding behaviour in which an animal feeds on either a dead animal or dead plant matter. Scavengers are the animals that show scavenging habits. Scavengers’ role is vital for the functioning of an ecosystem as they contribute to the decomposition by giving a start to it. Then after words, decomposers and detritus feeders complete the decomposition process.

Figure 01: Vultures

Moreover, scavengers do not spend energy to kill their prey, but they sense the smell of food on which they can feed. Vultures, burying beetle, racoons, jackals, and hyenas are some prime examples of animal scavengers. Termites and earthworms are good examples of plant scavengers. While the scavengers act on the dead animals and plants, they break them into small pieces of organic materials. Thus, scavengers start the decomposing process. Also, big helpers for the decomposition process are the scavengers, while detritus feeders are the small helpers.

What is a Decomposer?

Decomposition is a process that small organisms act on dead plants and animals biomass to convert those into molecular levels. Accordingly, decomposers are the organisms that contribute to the decomposition process. Fungi are the primary decomposers in a forest, while bacteria are also good examples.

Figure 02: Decomposer

They are microscopic more often than not. However, the dead matter has to be exposed for bacteria to be able to act upon, while fungi can decompose any dead biomass because of their penetrability. Apart from that, enzymes to decompose lignin in wood are present only in fungi. Decomposers release the organic and inorganic molecules in the form of nutrients for the plants and animals. Thus, this process is vital for the recycling of the resources inside an ecosystem.

What are the Similarities Between Scavenger and Decomposer?

  • Both scavenger and decomposer are integral parts of an ecosystem.
  • Also, they are responsible for the decomposition of organic matter accumulated in the environment.
  • Wherein, scavengers start the decomposing process, while decomposers finish it.
  • Furthermore, they help to recycle nutrients in the environment.

What is the Difference Between Scavenger and Decomposer?

Scavenger and decomposer are two types of organisms that are important for the functioning of an ecosystem. Scavengers are the animals that feed on dead plants, animals and carrion and break down them into small pieces. On the other hand, decomposers are the organisms that decompose the organic matter broken down by the scavengers. Therefore, this is the key difference between scavengers and decomposers. Besides, the scavengers are large animals, but decomposers are more often microorganisms. However, fungi come in different sizes. So, this is another difference between scavenger and decomposer.

Furthermore, scavengers can break down large dead bodies into small pieces while decomposers can break down small pieces of dead material into molecular levels. Thus, this is also a difference between scavenger and decomposer. Scavengers include animals such as birds, vultures, burying beetle, racoons, jackals, and hyenas, etc., while decomposers include earthworms, fungi and bacteria. Another difference between scavenger and decomposer is that scavenger initiates the decomposition by exposing interior matter to the outside by removing the skin, keratin layers, and scales of animals and barks of plants while decomposer completes it.

Summary – Scavenger vs Decomposer

Scavenger and decomposer are two types of organisms found in the environment. Both are important for the functioning of an ecosystem. Scavenger is an animal that feeds on and breaks down dead animals, plants and carrion into smaller pieces. On the other hand, decomposer is an organism that breaks down small pieces of organic matter into much smaller molecules. Therefore, this is the key difference between scavenger and decomposer.

Furthermore, scavenger starts the decomposition process and decomposer depends on the broken down materials of scavengers and completes the decomposition process. Thus, both scavenger and decomposer fulfil a great job in the environment by performing the decomposition and nutrient recycling. Hence, this summarizes the difference between scavenger and decomposer.


1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Scavenger.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 Dec. 2015. Available here
2. Editors. “Decomposer – Definition, Function and Examples.” Biology Dictionary, Biology Dictionary, 28 Apr. 2017. Available here

Image Courtesy:

1.”Vultures and dog – The Gambia. West Africa (32740095391)”By Paul Walter – Vultures and dog – The Gambia. West Africa, (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”1730002″ by evitaochel (CC0) via pixabay

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