Do Raccoons Have Saliva Glands – Exploring the Presence and Functions

does raccoons have saliva glands

Do raccoons produce saliva? Raccoons exhibit various physiological processes, and saliva production is a crucial aspect of their digestive system. Raccoons do produce saliva which plays a crucial role in their digestive process, aiding in the breakdown of food particles before reaching the stomach.

Do Raccoons Have Saliva Glands? 

Raccoons do indeed have saliva glands, which play a crucial role in their digestive process. Like many mammals, raccoons produce saliva in their mouths through salivary glands. The saliva aids in the breakdown of food particles and begins the digestive process even before the food reaches the stomach.

Role Of Saliva Glands in Raccoons

  • Digestive Function: Raccoons possess saliva glands that produce saliva crucial for the initial stages of digestion. The enzymes present in saliva help break down food particles, aiding in the digestive process before reaching the stomach.
  • Social and Communicative Behaviors: Saliva serves as a medium for scent marking, an essential behavior in raccoon communication. Raccoons use saliva and other bodily secretions for marking territory and conveying social information to other members of their species.
  • Preventive Oral Hygiene: Saliva contributes to oral hygiene by helping to clean the mouth and teeth, preventing the buildup of bacteria and promoting overall dental health in raccoons.
  • Pre-Digestive Moistening: Saliva aids in moistening the food, making it easier for raccoons to swallow and initiating the pre-digestive process in the mouth.
  • Role in Social Bonding: The use of saliva in social behaviors, including grooming rituals, fosters social bonding among raccoons within a group, enhancing cooperation and mutual support.

Why Do Raccoons Wash or Wet Their Food If They Can Produce Saliva?

The purpose of washing or wetting their food is not to lubricate the food for easy swallowing but rather is a fascinating behavior exhibited by raccoons that has puzzled observers. Contrary to the common belief that it is linked to their ability to produce saliva, this behavior is thought to serve multiple purposes. 

Raccoons may wet their food as this action could enhance tactile sensation and improve digestibility by softening certain food items 

Is Raccoon Saliva Dangerous? Can You Get Rabies From Raccoon Saliva?

Yes, raccoon saliva can potentially be dangerous as it may carry the rabies virus. Raccoons are one of the primary wildlife species known to be carriers of rabies, a viral disease that affects the nervous system. Rabies is typically transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, often through bites or scratches. It’s important to exercise caution and avoid direct contact with raccoon saliva, especially if the animal appears sick, aggressive, or behaves unusually.

If bitten or scratched by a raccoon or any potentially rabid animal, immediate medical attention is crucial. Rabies is a serious and fatal disease, but prompt medical intervention, including post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with rabies vaccination, can prevent the onset of symptoms and save lives. It is advisable to report any contact with raccoons or other potentially rabid animals to local animal control authorities for appropriate action and guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Raccoon Saliva Glands

Q1: Do raccoons have saliva?

A: Yes, raccoons do have saliva. Saliva is produced by their salivary glands and plays a crucial role in the initial stages of digestion, breaking down food particles before reaching the stomach.

Q2: What should I do if I touched raccoon saliva?

A: If you accidentally touch raccoon saliva, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. Seek medical advice, especially if there are any cuts, scratches, or broken skin. 

Q3: How do raccoon saliva glands contribute to their adaptation?

A: Raccoon saliva glands contribute to their adaptation by producing enzymes tailored to their diverse diet. This adaptability allows raccoons to thrive in various environments, consuming a wide range of foods.

Q4: Can raccoon saliva carry diseases?

A: While raccoon saliva is not inherently dangerous, it’s essential to exercise caution. Raccoons can be carriers of diseases such as rabies. Avoid direct contact, especially if the raccoon appears sick or behaves unusually.


Raccoons possess saliva glands essential for digestion, grooming, and communication through scent marking. Their adaptability to various environments is mirrored in their diverse diet and the unique behaviors associated with saliva use. While raccoons’ penchant for wetting food and the presence of saliva may pose certain risks, understanding these aspects contributes to a deeper appreciation of their biology. 

About Tanya Garg 82 Articles
I'm Tanya, the dedicated raccoon enthusiast behind My mission is to share my knowledge about raccoons through insightful blogs, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these intelligent creatures. Join me on a journey to learn more about raccoons, their behavior, and the importance of ensuring their safe relocation when necessary. Let's together create a world where raccoons and humans coexist harmoniously and safely.