Domesticated Racoons

Pet Raccoons: Good Idea or Total Disaster? Read This First

One look at their little masked faces and there is no doubt about it— raccoons are adorable.

But while these wily creatures are certainly cute and cuddly looking, they’re not exactly the easiest pets in the world. While enthusiasts and wildlife rehabbers will tell you they are fascinating and loving companions, keeping raccoons as pets is rare for a reason.

There’s a lot to take into account before deciding to bring a raccoon into your home.

Are Raccoon Pets Legal in Your Area?

In many areas, keeping a raccoon as a pet is illegal. Check your state and your county laws; even if your state allows you to keep a raccoon, some city ordinances will prohibit it.

If they are permitted where you live, the best way to get a pet raccoon is through an established breeder. Raccoons bred and raised in a home with humans can bond more easily and adjust faster to life as domestic animals.

Raccoons as Pets

Raccoons can be remarkably affectionate. They can become very attached to their owners and spend long periods of time snuggling. However, if they are afraid or become angry, they can and will bite. There have also been accounts of wild baby raccoons or young raccoons being good pets, but adult raccoons becoming mean.

Raccoons are very independent and still have wild instincts. There will be days where they want to play and cuddle all the time, and others were they want to treat to their own space. Because of that, they usually need a full room inside that is entirely theirs. They need plenty of toys to keep them occupied, bedding, and things to climb on and explore.

If they are not given enough space to roam and enough toys to play with, they can become very destructive and inquisitive, getting into places you wouldn’t expect and causing damage.

Caring for a Raccoon

Raccoons also need special care to keep them healthy within your home. They should eat a diet primarily made up of fresh vegetables and fruits. Some chicken or fish, or high-quality dog food, should be used to supplement their diet.

While they can be trained to use a litterbox, if you irritate them, they will willfully punish you by having accidents around the home; raccoons hold grudges!

Raccoons can learn their name and other commands, but because they are very clever, they can be selective about when they want to obey.

Raccoons and Finding a Veterinarian

In captivity, raccoons can live to 10-15 years old. They do require some veterinarian care, and it can be difficult to find a doctor willing to see a raccoon since they aren’t common pets. You will typically have to look for an exotic or wild animal vet. Your raccoon will also have to be vaccinated for rabies and canine distemper.

Raccoons can be loving and sweet pets, but they require a great deal of work and maintenance as they are still wild animals. They are not the kind of domestic pets you can leave alone for very long; when they get bored, your house can be destroyed in your absence!

The best thing you can do is research raccoons’ needs and behaviors thoroughly before bringing one home. If you’re considering raccoon ownership , make sure that all of your family members are on board with the commitment and the ways that having a raccoon in your home can change your life.

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Do you think raccoons make good pets? Tell us in the comments below.

All photos courtesy of Remo’s Raccoon Home.

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Can Raccoons Be Domesticated?

Even though raccoons are wild animals and thus live and thrive best out there in the open, it has become quite common for people to adopt them as pets, and if you’re one of them, you might want to stay tuned to find out more about these cute mammals.

While some people try to keep raccoons at bay and thus employ all sorts of traps and methods to make their home raccoon-proof just like they’d use traps for squirrels , others choose to keep them as companions. Is it safe to do that? Let’s go through the do’s and don’ts of raccoon domestication.

Raccoon behavior

More often than not, it’s the raccoon’s cuteness the one that makes people want to tame one and keep it indoors. However, raccoons are wild animals and their behavior might not be suitable for indoor life.

They are social and active animals, which means that they might interact quite nicely with humans yet their active nature might also trigger destructive behavior. Many people owning raccoons say they can be very affectionate and don’t mind spending lots of time cuddling.

They do need lots of space where they can roam free, explore, and play. Since they are not fond of cages and thus don’t do well when entrapped in one, they might use their teeth and sharp claws to try to escape. When left unsupervised, raccoons can seriously damage one’s property. Their behavior is unpredictable and, thus, may even injure owners.

Although a baby raccoon can be very social and affectionate, it might display a totally different behavior when reaching sexual maturity, that is around the age of 6 months or so. They can thus become aggressive and bite for no apparent reason.

Can you tame raccoons?

The short answer would be that raccoons can be partially tamed, considering the increasing number of people who have adopted one and succeeded in living quite peacefully together. Many raccoon owners have trained the animals to use the litter yet, in some cases, the whole process took even a few months.

Raccoons are social animals, therefore they won’t hold back from playing with humans. What’s more, they can even learn a few command words, just like dogs and cats do. However, they are wild animals and will remain so, which means that their natural instincts will prevent a harmonious cohabitation at times.

Health concerns when housing a raccoon

If getting a thing or two broken is not that much of a problem in your case and you’d like to go on with adopting a raccoon, you might want to consider the health risks you’re exposed to. Just like dogs and cats, raccoons need to be vaccinated in order not to jeopardize your health.

As far as these nocturnal animals are concerned, they are mostly known for carrying infectious diseases such as rabies and zoonotic parasites. If a raccoon bites you or you come in contact with a raccoon’s droppings, it is best to see your doctor and get professional help. Canine rabies vaccines have been used for raccoons yet the efficiency of this approach still sits next to a question mark.

More often than not, regulatory agencies don’t accept this vaccine as effective. This means that in case a raccoon bites a human, they may euthanize the animal. Raccoon droppings can also pose a health risk as they can contain raccoon roundworm which can infect humans since the egg spores are airborne and thus easily inhaled.

Raccoons need proper and constant maintenance, therefore finding a vet interested in taking care of such a pet is compulsory as these animals can develop other medical issues including skin and urinary tract infections, obesity, and intestinal parasites. They can also get infested with fleas.

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Give serious thought to such risks and try to see if there is a veterinarian that could help with raccoon problems in your area. Since raccoons are wild animals, there are few veterinarians with experience in treating such animals or with any interest in doing so. A raccoon should be vaccinated and dewormed regularly in order to minimize the above-mentioned health risks.

Eating habits

Taking good care of a raccoon means catering to the animal’s various needs. Regarding their diet, it should include vegetables, fruits, insects, protein-rich foods, and, some say, even dog foods. If you’ve found a veterinarian to help you with your raccoon, ask for more information regarding the animal’s diet.

One thing raccoon owners have noticed is that they are quite messy when they eat and they have a great time dunking the food into water before having it. So, make sure you provide them with a large water container and change the water on a regular basis. Also, try to place it in a location that can be easily cleaned.

Things you should consider before getting a raccoon

The first thing you need to take into account before getting a raccoon is the legal limitation in your area as far as raccoon ownership is regarded. In many states, owning one is illegal while in others, although it is legal, it is illegal to import such animals from other states.

If the law allows you to keep a raccoon as a pet, you might also want to consider all the regulations regarding raccoon ownership. In some cases, the law might be quite harsh if a raccoon bites or gets loose. Therefore, make all the necessary research related to the restrictions imposed by the laws in your state.

As we’ve said before, raccoons are not very much into cages, so you should also consider the space you have at disposal. Given their wild nature, raccoons need to explore and that requires lots of space.

Dedicating an entire room to your raccoon and decorating it with toys and all sorts of things the animal could climb and explore would thus be ideal. When they can’t satisfy such needs, they may become aggressive and try to explore forbidden places, which may lead to all sorts of damages.

Also, if you have kids, it is best to take the necessary measures not to expose your little ones to the unpredictable and thus potentially aggressive behavior of a raccoon. It would be best to keep the raccoon only in a dedicated area, another reason why you should provide the animal with a generous room where the raccoon can explore without needing to roam free in your house.

Make sure you find a vet as we’ve mentioned above as well as a raccoon sitter to take care of the animal when you’re away. Left alone, a raccoon can damage your various belongings and destroy your property.

Keep in mind that raccoons live up to 20 years, therefore, this is a long-term commitment. Tamed raccoons will find it difficult to go back into the wild after being housed and cared for as pets.

Last but not least, think of the ethical side of housing a raccoon. They are adorable creatures that could provide humans with affection and they’re lots of fun to play with yet they are wild animals and keeping them indoors contradicts their very nature.

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Raccoon Food

Raccoons make very interesting pets. They are curious, mischievous, playful, and get into everything. Pet raccoons eat quite a variety of foods. There are no formulated raccoon diets that are pre-made and ready for you to purchase so it can be difficult to provide a proper, well-balanced diet for your pet raccoon. By learning what a raccoon eats in the wild, you will be better prepared to offer appropriate foods to a pet raccoon.

What Food Does a Wild Raccoon Eat?

Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat a little bit of everything. Their diet will vary a bit from season to season, and they will eat everything from insects to fruits to nuts to amphibians. The majority of their diet consists of worms, insects, and other invertebrates along with plant material, including fruits. Small reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other vertebrates make up the smallest portion of their diet. They will eat what is available, when it is available, and have a fondness for nuts and fruit. Raccoons are foragers, and depending on what type of environment they reside in; their diet will also vary.

What Food Does a Pet Raccoon Eat?

Since pet owners have complete control over the food their pets eat, it should be easy to offer only the healthiest of food items to a pet raccoon. This can be difficult with a pet raccoon since you’ll need to offer such a wide variety of foods every day. Grain-free dog food is a good staple food to give to your pet raccoon on a daily basis. You can supplement kibble with poultry, fish, or eggs along with fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole prey items such as mice. Just giving dog food will not do. Gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, earthworms, and other invertebrates should also be offered and double as enrichment if these prey items are still alive. Nuts and seeds should be saved as treats and not fed in a large quantity due to their high-fat content.

How Much Food Does a Pet Raccoon Eat?

A young pet raccoon should be allowed to eat all the food that he or she wants in a day. Once they have reached about six months old, start limiting their diet. A quality, grain-free dog food will have a high-calorie count; therefore, a handful of dog food goes a long way. Start with about 1/8 of a cup of dry dog food two to three times daily and add in some other fresh items in small amounts. A tablespoon or two of fresh veggies and fruits along with some egg, chicken, insects, and an occasional mouse should create a balanced diet without causing your raccoon to become overweight. If you notice your raccoon is losing their visible waistline or if you can’t feel their ribs anymore, reduce the amount of food.

Raccoons love to dunk their food in water before eating it. Provide a large shallow dish (such as a kitty litter box) that is available to them during their feeding times. They are very messy eaters so be prepared to clean up after mealtime.

Does a Raccoon Eat Food out of a Bowl?

A raccoon will certainly eat food from a bowl, but it is better to make them do a little work for their food, which will mimic how they eat in the wild. Try offering invertebrates such as crickets in a plastic under-bed storage box (so the crickets can’t escape). Another idea is to put food on the steps, underneath boxes, or inside of objects. Make your raccoon exercise their brain and the rest of their body when it is feeding time. You’ll find they are happier being healthy and mentally stimulated. Raccoons are very smart and need interesting things to do. By making feeding time a challenge, you will also keep your pet raccoon from becoming bored and destructive.

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