Are Raccoons Smelly? (Here’s What You Should Worry About)

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Published on April 29, 2022
Last Updated on February 17, 2024

Raccoons, also affectionately called “trash pandas,” are native to North America. They are famous for their bandit-like markings around their eyes. They also like to creep into campgrounds and areas with dumpsters to try and sneak food refuge from humans. This behavior is how they got their nickname “trash pandas.”

Raccoons have also snuck into many people’s hearts with their pudgy bodies and small grabby hands. This makes people want to get close, but that closeness raises the question: are raccoons smelly? 

Do Raccoons Put Off an Odor?

In the wild, raccoons are likely to have an odor. They do not bathe like a domesticated pet would, so they can smell like dirt and nature.

If someone has a pet raccoon, they likely bathe it frequently to prevent scent buildup.

Raccoons do not spray odor as skunks do. This fact means you will not have to worry about becoming smelly after encountering a raccoon in the wild.

Raccoons do have a distinct scent in their urine. If raccoons regularly come on your property if you may notice the scent. Similarly, if you have a pet raccoon, you will want to make sure you have a proper location for the raccoon to “do its business” that can easily be cleaned so your house does not begin to smell like raccoon urine and fecal matter.

What Do Raccoons Smell Like?

Raccoons do not have a distinctive odor that distinguishes them from any other woodland creatures. In general, they will smell like wool as a result of their furry coats. When wet, raccoons will likely smell similar to a dog after a bath, with a bit of a musty scent.

Because wild raccoons are not bathed with shampoo like most domestic pets, raccoons will sweat and not have that scent washed away. Imagine if a dog did not take a bath for months. That is similar to what a raccoon will smell like in nature.

Why Do Raccoons Smell Bad?

Raccoons are wild animals. In nature, they are not going to be groomed like domesticated pets. This means the scents of dirt, sweat, and urine can build up over time.

Raccoons may also smell if they spend time digging through human trash for food. Their fur can collect scents and trap them for long periods.

Do Raccoons Use Their Smells for Communicating?

Raccoons have a few ways that they can use their scents to communicate with other raccoons. In general, this scent usage is to mark territory and keep other raccoons away.

Raccoons may use urine or fecal matter to mark their territory. This is similar to how dogs will urinate to “claim” their areas and show where they have been. If there are many raccoons on your property, you may start to notice a smell as a result of their urine.

Raccoons also mark their territory with a scent from their anal glands. It is unlikely that humans will be able to identify that smell from the rest of nature.

Raccoons use their anal glands to mark their territory by rubbing their rear ends on things they want to claim. If you see a raccoon rubbing its butt on something near you, it is merely telling other raccoons that it got there first.

Are Raccoons Dirty?

Raccoons can be very dirty. While they wash their food, they are still surrounded by nature with little to no cleaning power. They are likely covered in dirt, sweat, and various things they have crawled through.

Their dirt means you should not attempt to pet raccoons. They climb through garbage regularly to scavenge for food and they are covered in other things that may have a disease. You do not want to catch what a raccoon is carrying.

You should also avoid petting raccoons in the wild, as they can carry rabies and other diseases. They can be unpredictable and may attack or bite.

How Long Does a Raccoon Smell Last?

The smell of a raccoon’s urine will last for several weeks. If your area smells like urine from raccoons marking their territory, there are several things you can do to help wash away the scent and restore peace to your nostrils.

You may also have a scent on your property if a raccoon has recently passed away. The scent will last until the body has decomposed or is removed. You can call pest control if you need help with this situation.

How to Clean Raccoon Pee and Feces?

Do not worry if something smells like raccoon urine and feces after a raccoon has “done its business” on your property. There are a few options to help you clean it that can return the scent to normal.

First, if you notice the scent in your house, you will want to make sure the raccoons are no longer in your house. You will also want to ensure that they no longer have access to your house.

If the raccoons can keep coming and going as they please, they may leave more “presents” in your house.

If you do not want to clean the scent of raccoon pee and feces yourself, you can call an expert. They will have professional-grade equipment and chemicals to ensure that the scent goes away and stays away.

If you want to clean it yourself, first make sure you wear gloves and rubber boots. You will not want to catch any diseases from the fecal matter. You should also wear an N-95 mask.

Use a shovel to collect any fecal matter in a bag and make sure it is disposed of away from anywhere where other animals can get to it.

Wash the area with hot soapy water. You may also want to use sanitizing materials.

After cleaning up the area, you should throw the gloves away and wash your boots. Thoroughly wash your clothes separately from your other clothing.

Air out the indoor area if possible, to help the scent disperse.

The smell may persist even after cleaning. You can use air fresheners to attempt to mask it, but airing out the area and cleaning regularly are your best chances of cleaning the scent.


  • Tommy

    Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.

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