Have you been hearing the stories about Zombie Raccoons in Illinois?
It sure makes for an interesting headline. You can imagine the walking dead raccoons strolling through the Chicago suburbs screaming “Brains… more brains!”
That’s not what the “zombie raccoon” phenomenon is really about, despite the headlines or stories you may have seen on WGN, NBC7 or Fox News.
The zombie raccoons stories actually have to do with a disease that has been affecting raccoons in the Midwest for years: Raccoon Distemper.
It’s just that “raccoon distemper” doesn’t have the same ring to it as ZOMBIE RACCOONS does, so that phrase has taken over the headlines because it gets people’s attention.
— Jes (@jesjohnsonn) April 5, 2018
What are Zombie Raccoons?
“Zombie raccoons” are wild raccoons displaying unusual behaviors such as being active in the daytime, walking on their hind legs, bearing their teeth, and falling over backward and going “into almost a comatose condition” before later arising again.
That unusual behavior of appearing to “go comatose” is what has given them the nickname of “zombie raccoons”.
They are not actually walking dead raccoons who wander the earth in search of human or animal victims.
The true cause of these zombie-like behaviors is actually a disease known as “raccoon distemper”.
Related post: Raccoon FAQ
What is Raccoon Distemper?
Distemper is a viral disease which can affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of infected raccoons. It may cause twitching, seizures, and paralysis in raccoons, which is the reason they have been said to display zombie-like behavior.
In the wild, distemper most commonly affects raccoons, skunks, and foxes. It can also be transmitted to domesticated dogs and cats.
Related post: Do raccoons attack humans, dogs, and cats?
You should always keep your pets away from raccoons because they can carry rabies. It should go without saying that if you see a “zombie raccoon” that you should definitely keep your dogs and cats away from them.
There is no cure for raccoon distemper. Your dog can be vaccinated to help protect it. Humans are safe from distemper because it cannot be transferred to humans.
Related post: Common raccoon diseases
What should I do if I see a zombie raccoon?
RUN!!! Or at least don’t go near them.
Seriously, you should always stay away from wild raccoons because they can carry diseases, including rabies or distemper. Raccoons rarely attack a human, but it does happen. A raccoon displaying unusual behaviors is likely to be diseased.
Do you need help with raccoon removal in the Chicago area?
Attic Solutions can provide you humane raccoon removal services in the Chicagoland suburbs.
We can also safely restore and sanitize your attic to remove dangerous contaminants.
Contact us online or call (847) 464-1861
Related Zombie Raccoon Stories and Sources:
Wildlife officials explain why raccoons in Illinois, Ohio are acting like ‘zombies’ – WGN9
Police Investigate Reports of ‘Zombie’ Raccoons – NBC Chicago
Fearless ‘Zombie Raccoons’ Can Be Fatal To Pets – Chicago Patch
‘Zombie raccoons’ are freaking out residents with bizarre behavior, Ohio police say – Sacramento Bee
‘Zombie raccoons’ terrorizing town – Fox News
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR ZOMBIE RACCOONS IN ROCKFORD – 97ZOK
Canine Distemper – Wikipedia