Where Do Raccoons Live During The Day

Sleeping Habits of Raccoons

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Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are foraging omnivores that typically search for food at night. You may have heard them knock over your trash cans in the evening, as these furry critters will eat everything from berries to garbage. Raccoons sleep during the day, typically in dens, and they can sleep for long periods when food is scarce.

Daytime Dozers

Raccoons are nocturnal, so they search for food between dusk and dawn. Males are typically solitary, but females and young will often stay together in dens and when feeding. Raccoons consume more in the fall to have fat stored because they spend a large portion of the winter sleeping. They don’t hibernate and can be woken, and their metabolic rate is the same as when they are fully awake.

Raccoons live in dens. Female groups with young may even share a den. While they don’t make their own dens, they will use old dens from other animals. Rotten logs or hollowed out trees are common nests, and they may even sleep on the ground during the spring or summer. During harsh winter weather, raccoons have even been found sharing dens with other species, including skunks.

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Raccoon Outside in the Daytime — Is it Rabid?

Many people think that a raccoon that is outside and active during daylight hours has rabies. People know that racoons are nocturnal animals, and usually only active at nighttime. So if a raccoon is out and about during the day instead of night, something is wrong, right?

While it is true that a rabid raccoon will exhibit a variety of unusual behaviors, activity during daytime is most definitely not a guaranteed indicator of rabies. You see, although raccoons are primarily nocturnal, they do often get some stuff done during the day. It is not at all unusual for a raccoon to be active in the middle of the day. They can’t just sleep from dawn to dusk without doing anything. They may go off in search of food or drink. This is especially true of nursing female raccoons, who have a bunch of babies to take care of, and who have extra nutritional requirements, because they are nursing their young. In the spring, you’re sure to see some mother raccoons gathering extra food during the daytime, so that they can produce more milk.

Read here for the top 5 behaviors of a rabid raccoon for a better idea of what a rabid raccoon looks and acts like.

How can I tell if a raccoon has rabies? Rabid raccoons are very sick. Mostly, they are lethargic. Their walk may be erratic, or their legs paralyzed. They may be walking in circles or falling over, or lurching in an unnatural fashion. In short, they just plain look sick. If you see a raccoon outside when it’s light out, and it looks agile, alert, is running or foraging in a smooth and coordinated and normal manner, then you can be almost certain that it doesn’t have rabies. This doesn’t mean that you should approach it and offer it a lick of your ice cream cone, but you most likely have nothing to worry about.

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What to do if I encounter a raccoon out in broad daylight — If you see a raccoon, no matter what time of day, leave it alone. Never try to feed it or approach it. Seeing a raccoon out in the day isn’t an immediate cause for alarm. There are many reasons why this nocturnal animal might be out and about. If you live in an urban setting, or if the year has been bad for food, raccoons will change their habits to fit when food is most available. If you always put your garbage out at 1:00 in the afternoon, the raccoons in the area will learn that. A raccoon out in the daytime that is lingering in your yard, seems overly friendly, is acting unstable, lethargic, or is walking in odd patterns, should be reported to the police. Most police stations will come out and shoot a raccoon that may be ill. The body is then sent to the health department where it will be evaluated for possible infectious disease. Aside from odd behavior, seeing a raccoon out in daylight does not always mean the creature is ill. Humans are active primarily during the day, but if you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you hope your neighbor doesn’t assume you are a threat.

Click to learn more about other raccoon diseases other than rabies. Click here for my full guide on raccoon trapping tips.

Is a raccoon that is active during the daytime rabid? Rarely is a raccoon rabid when it is active during the daytime. While daytime behavior could be an indicator of rabies, finding a raccoon during the day isn’t sufficient evidence to qualify that raccoon as rabid.

As most people are already aware, raccoons are primarily nocturnal creatures. They normally spend the lighter hours of the day near their den, asleep. However, since raccoons have high adaptability, and can change their habits to find the best available source of food, it’s not surprising to see them active during the day. This is especially true of urban raccoons that forage from commercial and residential garbage cans, and of raccoons that are brave enough to seek handouts from passersby.

Rabid raccoons do exhibit abnormal behaviors, including walking around during the day, but finding one during the lighter hours isn’t enough to call a raccoon rabid. Depending on the time of year, it’s likely that a diurnal raccoon could be partaking in the mating season, if it has not done so already. Additionally, a mother raccoon out with her kits during the day is more than likely taking them on a hunting trip, to show them how to forage.

There are a number of reasons why raccoons will venture out into the sunlight. If a daytime raccoon is in fact rabid, it is easily distinguishable from its healthy counterparts. There are several, telltale symptoms of a sick raccoon which most people can recognize immediately, with careful observation and a little forehand knowledge.

Normal raccoons behave deliberately, with steady physical movements, but sick raccoons will appear disoriented, and have been known to walk in circles, stagger, and even fall over. Also, sick raccoons will appear lethargic, overly aggressive, or overly friendly (though this may also be true of raccoons adjusted to being fed by humans). A raccoon with apparently paralyzed hind legs, or a raccoon dragging its hind legs behind it, are also indicative of rabies. Of course, foaming at the mouth and sensitivity to light and sound are both dead giveaways. In short, if a raccoon looks and acts sick, then it should be clear what’s going on.

Caution should be exercised around all wildlife, including raccoons. If you happen to come across a raccoon in the daytime, do not approach. More often than not, a healthy raccoon out and about will be on its merry way without a human’s intervention. If it appears that the animal is foraging from local dumpsters or garbage cans, try locking the lids or putting them out at different times of the day, respectively. The problem should then solve itself.

If you find a raccoon denning itself up in your home, e.g. in your attic, contact a local raccoon removal expert for assistance. Raccoons left unchecked can cause severe damage to homes, leaving homeowners with massive repair bills.

If you suspect a raccoon is sick, contact animal control immediately. Only those who are licensed to do so may tranquilize any animal, in order to assess the animal’s needs and put them down if necessary. If you are not sure, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator, and they can help you determine whether the animal needs help.

Actual Situation: Hello, today I went to my parent’s home and saw a large raccoon that has apparently dug underneath their shed in the backyard. I’m a little nervous because I saw it out diring the daytime, and I’m wondering if it’s sick or has rabies. I’m simply curious how much it’d cost to trap it and have it relocated back into the wild. They live in Alexandria near Mt. Vernon. To them it’s no dire rush nor emergency as they don’t even want me to have it removed, but I’m concerned because I see it moving during the day. As well, money is naturally tight due to the recession. Just price checking. Please respond when you can. Thanks for your time.

My response: Daytime behavior doesn’t mean rabies — it’s a common thing for these animals to do. I don’t service the Alexandria area, but I do have a guy that I know who does wildlife removal there. Just click on my directory, and you’ll find his number, and you can call him for a price quote.

Actual Situation: Hello, I heard and saw a raccoon on my roof yesterday afternoon. It was outside in broad daylight. I saw him jump off. This morning I saw shingles lifted off in different areas, I checked my attic and there doesn’t appear to be any damage. No signs of entry. What are the chances he/she will return to my roof? Is it true that it has rabies if it’s active during the day? Thanks Barbara

My response: I don’t know the chances that it’ll return to your roof, but if it’s established a home up there, or in the attic with roof access, then it will certainly be back. The fact that it was up there in the first place indicates that it has a reason to be there, and the missing shingles might mean that it’s working to break its way in. And no, daytime activity is not a sign of rabies.

Do raccoons feed during the day? Yes, they often do. They are usually active after dusk and during dark hours, but raccoons will feed during the daytime hours if they are awake and hungry, especially a nursing female raccoon will eat during the day time.

Where do raccoons go during the day? They usually nest in trees, or in hollow logs or in your attic! They sometimes come outside in the morning or afternoon or middle of the day or any time before sunset to eat or drink.

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Where Do Raccoons Sleep? Where Do Raccoons Go During the Day?

Raccoons normally prefer living in wooded areas so that as soon as they feel any danger, they may climb up the trees. Therefore, open terrain is not one of their favorite places to thrive. During winter, they seek warm shelters and spend most of their time in their dens, going into a deep sleep (called Torpor), which is not true hibernation. Because raccoons are rarely visible in daylight, this makes most of us to wonder where do raccoons go during the day or perhaps more importantly, where do raccoons sleep or nest?

Since raccoons are nocturnal mammals, they are mostly active after dawn and dusk. Even though they spend most of their daytime in sleeping, some female raccoons may occasionally come out during the day in search of more food.

Where Do Raccoons Live During the Day? Where Do Raccoons Sleep and Nest?

As far as raccoon habitat his concerned, this mammal usually occupies both mixed and deciduous forests. However, raccoons are highly adaptable mammals and they can adjust to almost any kind of environment. This explains why these animals are now present over an extensive range like in coastal marshes, mountains and urban settlements.

You will often find a sleeping raccoon within cracks of old trees. This is because hollows within old oaks and under the rocks are some of the preferred places where raccoons go during the day and sleep. They also use these old trees and rock crevices for winter denning. If a raccoon cannot find a place to den, it may use dense vegetation and burrows of other animals. Thus forests, woody plants and shrubbery are the places where raccoons go during the day.

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Some of the common places where raccoons sleep and nest are rock clefts, small spaces under decks, homes or buildings that are no longer in use, barns, woods and abandoned nests and burrows of other animals (like squirrels). As weather becomes more pleasant and less harsh, these mammals mostly sleep on tree forks. In warmer days, they find it convenient to sleep on open shelters.

As winter sets in, raccoons seek out warm and cozy places for sleeping and denning. This is why they usually find their way into the attics, garage, walls because they are perfect winter denning sites for them. As a result, you will often spot a raccoon rummaging through trash cans in your backyard, garage or crawl spaces under the deck.

Where Do Raccoons Nest?

Normally, raccoons like to use dens or burrows of other animals. Due to their adaptable nature, they do not find it hard to settle in burrows or holes dug by other animals. For that reason, you will often see a raccoon using holes for denning as well as nesting purposes. Generally, however, they nest in hollows of old oak trees and take up spring or summer residence on ground. To avoid harsh cold winter, they may occasionally share their dens with other animals, like skunks.

Do Raccoons Live in Trees?

Raccoons mostly occur in places where vertical structures are abundant. For a raccoon, climbing up trees is a piece of cake since they are one of the best climbers. They can quickly climb up trees to make dens inside abandoned hollows or tree crotches. These animals prefer living in trees that have long branches. Actually, a mother raccoon will often live in a tree hole high enough to avoid predators and raise her young out of harm’s way. Moreover, one of the benefits for living on treetops is that it would be quite convenient for raccoon to attack the prey from above. Thus, trees provide them shelter as well as place to hide from predators.

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A Raccoon Out During the Day? Raccoons in Daylight

Raccoons are restless and highly intelligent mammals. Even though they are most active from dusk until sunrise, some of them are often seen in daytime as well. Not only are they highly adaptable but they eat a lot of different foodstuff. In cold days, you would rarely witness a raccoon out during the day since it moves back to its den. Contrary to the common belief, raccoons do not hibernate (in its true sense) during winter, like most other animals. As soon as winter fades away or even in mild winter, they occasionally come out again, looking out for food and shelter.

Since raccoons are nocturnal animals, they are supposed to be out during the night, right? Probably not, but people sometimes wonder,

“Is it ok if you see raccoons during the day?” and if so, then why are there raccoons out in daytime?

Why is there a raccoon out during the day?

Well, a short answer is: it depends. However, most people would think that such coons might be sick or rabid. While this may be true on occasions, but of course, this is only one of the many reasons for a raccoon out in daylight. When a coon becomes sick, there would be noticeable rabid raccoons symptoms. For instance, a coon may become lethargic in its movement or it may not be able to move its hind legs or often fall over while moving around.

Image copyright Tammy Black

In reality, if you see raccoons out in daytime, there may be good reasons for them to venture out. Let’s say, for instance, in the New York City, female raccoons sometimes seek out more food and drink during the day so that they may nurse their babies. In order to feed its young ones, a female raccoon has to have good nutrition to remain healthy. Therefore, in breeding season, people will occasionally see them in search of some additional food.

Moreover, it is also quite possible that raccoons may be looking out for shelter. A raccoon has to find the new nest if its old nest is destroyed for some reason. Consequently, these animals may have to seek out new habitat where food and water are not far away. For that reason, some raccoons need to make an extra effort even in daylight hours in order to find new nest.

Finally, few young raccoons are often unable to find their way to the colonies. As a result, they may roam around in the day to search for water and food.

All in all, if you have raccoons in your backyard or if you spot any raccoon out in daylight, there is no reason to worry about if their movement is smooth and agile. A sick raccoon, however, is not active enough to rummage food for itself and will show some clear signs.

What should you do if you spot raccoons during the day

As a note of caution, when you see raccoons during the day, do not try to feed them even in daylight or come any closer. This is because these animals do not seem to be scared of people at all and active raccoon will find its own food anyway. As a result, they can easily become habituated to humans. It is, therefore, advisable to leave raccoons alone as they are smart enough to rummage food in their own way.

If a raccoon behaves in an unusual way, like if it seems to be

  • paralyzed or disoriented;
  • walking round in a circle;
  • unsteadily moving;
  • or perhaps showing unprovoked aggression or overly friendliness,

then you must immediately contact your local animal control.

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