What Do Raccoons Eat In The Wild Encyclopedia

What do racoons eat in the wild ?

Wiki User
November 13, 2015 7:28AM

Anything they can find. For example: plants and animals. Plant

examples: Berries, acorns, and grapes. Animal examples: Baby mice,

baby birds & eggs, frogs, crayfish, fiddler crabs, fish, and



Raccoons are foxlike carnivores of North and South America that belong to the same family (Procyonidae) as the coatis, kinkajou, and the lesser panda. The most common species is the northern raccoon (Procyon lotor), which has numerous subspecies, all with the famous black mask on their faces and rings of dark color on their tails. They are found throughout the United States, in central Canada, and south into Central America. Because of their long, warm, useful fur, they have also been introduced into other countries, notably Russia in 1936. Several other species of raccoon are found on various islands in the Caribbean.

An adult raccoon can be fairly large, with a head and body length of 2 ft (61 cm), plus a very fluffy tail up to 15 in (40 cm) long. A northern animal may weigh up to 30 lb (13.6 kg), while a raccoon in the Florida Keys may weigh only 6 lb (2.7 kg). Although it has a soft undercoat of uniformly tannish color, a raccoon ’ s coarse guard hairs are striped light and dark (often brown and yellow), giving the animal a grizzled appearance. Raccoons live in just about any habitat, from marsh to prairie, to forest, to suburb. The darkness of their coloring depends on their habitat. Animals of arid regions are lightest, those of damp forests are darkest. Starting in late winter, they molt all their fur, starting at the top of the head. It is autumn before the new fur coat is complete. Raccoons have fairly large, pointed ears, about 2 in (5 cm) long with white edges and a white tip.

Raccoons have “ hands ” rather than paws on their front feet. The five long, narrow, flexible fingers are quite sensitive and able to make delicate manipulations. The palms of the hands (as well as the soles of the feet) are hairless. A major part of the animal ’ s brain is directed toward sensing things with its hands. The name raccoon comes from an Algonquin word meaning “ he scratches with his hands. ” Raccoons are omnivorous, and feed primarily at night. They have acute senses of smell and hearing that direct them to food. They are drawn to crayfish, fruit, birds ’ eggs, nuts, young grass shoots, small reptiles, mollusks, poultry, insects, and the garbage from any can they manage to tip over. Raccoons use their sensitive hands to investigate whatever they find. This probably plays an important role in their curiosity. They enjoy manipulating whatever they come across, and that often turns them into puzzle solvers. They can easily open latches, garbage can lids, and whatever else they want to concentrate on.

The lotor in the raccoon ’ s scientific name means “ washer. ” Tradition has it that raccoons wash their food in water before eating. This myth arose because captive raccoons have been observed dunking their food in water. In the wild, raccoons find much of their food in the water, and scientists now think that captive raccoons are acting the same way they would in the wild by “ finding ” their food in the water.

In the northern part of their range, raccoons eat during the summer and then sleep away much of the winter. However, this dormancy, which may last four months, is not true hibernation. Their metabolism does not slow, their body temperature does not fall, and they will emerge from their dens during periods of relatively warm weather. During this winter sleep, raccoons live off fat reserves accumulated the previous summer and may lose as much as 50% of their body weight. In the southern parts of their range raccoons are active throughout the year. Raccoons are solitary animals, and try to avoid one another. In places where food is plentiful, several raccoons may feed together, but they still tend to keep their distance from one another.

Late in the winter, raccoons find mates. A male will mate with several females but a female will mate with only one male. After a gestation of 54-65 days, the female gives birth to two to seven cubs (usually three or four) in a den, often a hole in a hollow tree. Each cub is about 4 in (10 cm) long and weighs about 2 oz (62 g). They nurse for several weeks, as the mother gradually spends more and more time away from the den. Soon the mother moves the babies to a den on the ground, and they begin to explore their new world. Before winter, the young raccoons have dispersed to their own homes. Young females can produce their first litter when they are about a year old; males first mate when they are about two years old.

The crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorous)is a semi-aquatic species found in Central and northern South America. It has wiry red fur, with the familiar black mask and tail rings. It feeds on fish and land crabs, and willingly leaves the water to climb trees.

A close relative of the raccoon is the ringtail (Bassariscus astutus), or cacomistle, which lives in the western United States and down into central Mexico. Smaller than the raccoon, it has a white mask instead of black. Its tail is distinctly marked with bands of black and white. Before domestic cats were brought to the New World, cacomistles were often kept as pets.

Raccoons are intelligent and adaptable. They have been able to take most changes in their habitats in stride. However, the five island raccoon species are endangered, as are many island mammals worldwide. The Barbados raccoon (P. gloveralleni) may already be extinct.

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In recent years, common raccoons have been hard hit with rabies. Because people regard them as cute and may try to touch them, the rabies may be spread from raccoons to people. Since 1992, an antirabies vaccine that can be distributed through food has been available for use in areas with many raccoons.



MacClintock, Doracas. A Natural History of Raccoons. New York: Charles Scribner ’ s Sons, 1981.

Nowak, Ronald M.Walker ’ s Mammals of the World.6th ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

O ’ Toole, Christopher, and John Stidworthy. Mammals: The Hunters. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. Raccoons, Coatimundis, and Their Family. New York: Holiday House, 1979.

Wilson, D.E., and D. Reeder. Mammal Species of the World.3rd ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

Zeveloff, S.I. Raccoons: A Natural History. Washington,DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.

Jean F. Blashfield

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What Do Raccoons Eat?

Most of us are familiar with the masked bandit we call the raccoon. The average raccoon measures about 3 feet long – including a bushy, ringed tail – and weighs 15 to 40 pounds. They have a hunched back appearance because their hind legs are much longer than their front legs.

The raccoon’s diet is of a large variety. While they prefer to live in wooded areas near a water source, such as a stream or pond, they occasionally venture into urban areas in search of shelter or food. This search for food can pose a large nuisance to homeowners.

A not so picky palate

What raccoons eat has a lot to do with accessibility. This is how they may sometimes end up in your garbage. But what does a raccoon like to eat? The preferred raccoon diet contains food found in or near water, such as crayfish, frogs, fish, snails and clams. They also enjoy insects, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and even dead animals. Raccoons are not experts at hunting prey, but they do manage to occasionally catch a young mouse, rat or squirrel.

Raccoons are solitary animals, except during mating season. They tend to hunt during the night and dine alone. They are also voracious feeders, especially during the spring and summer. They gorge themselves to store body fat for the winter, where they will spend most of their time in their den.

Baby raccoons

What do baby raccoons eat? It takes about 16 weeks for a baby raccoon to become weaned off of its mother’s milk. They may begin to explore before that, however, as soon as they are about 1 pound in weight.

More than a nuisance

In their quest for food, raccoons may invade your garden or, even worse, your home. They have five toes and two front feet. These toes are equipped with sharp claws that are used to capture prey on land and in water. They may also be used to dig up grass and dirt in search of grub.

What do raccoons like to eat when they come to visit your home? They’ve been known to ravage homegrown fruits and vegetables and are notorious for rummaging through garbage. They may even build nests in your attic or crawl space. Raccoons can be dangerous and are proven carriers of numerous diseases, including rabies.

Have a raccoon invasion in your home? The wildlife management professionals at Terminix® have the expertise to control a variety of unwanted animals, including this masked bandit.


What Do Raccoons Eat in the Wild?

Raccoons are omnivores and eat foods from both plant and animal sources; their diet is highly dependent on the food available where they live. According to PBS.org, a raccoon’s typical diet includes fruits, nuts, plants, insects, berries, eggs, frogs and crayfish. The largest volume of their diet comes from plants and invertebrates. In urban areas and campgrounds, humans often see them scavenging through garbage cans looking for discarded food.

The original habitat of the raccoon was in the tropics, where riverbanks provided plenty of opportunities for foraging for frogs and crustaceans. They lived in burrows or cavities in trees of the forests of North America. Predators for raccoons included coyotes and foxes.

Over time, raccoons moved north. Barns and other human outbuildings provide raccoons shelter from the cold weather, allowing them to survive in areas far from their origin. This migration has lead to sightings as far north as Alaska.

This migration took them from the forest to urban areas, where they do very well. Raccoons find shelter under homes and in storm sewers. The garbage and pet foods of humans provide a constant supply of food, even when their natural sources are scarce. Additionally, the city is relatively free of predators and laws restrict human hunting or trapping of these animals.


Questions and Answers

What do raccoons eat in the wild ?

The raccoon animal is omnivorous and the diet is completely dependent on the season. Raccoons eat in nature different foods. The basis of nutrition is various insects, reptiles, eggs of birds, rodents, fish, crabs, crabs, lobsters and other small animals. Also, in warm climates or summer, raccoons prefer to eat fruits, berries, nuts, and acorns.

Raccoons living near people do not disdain to swarm in garbage in search of scraps.

Raccoons are well tamed and therefore they are increasingly started as pets.

The ration of the animal must be competently matched, this directly determines the life expectancy of the pet.

To feed the raccoon, you should use the products that it feeds in the natural environment: eggs, fish, low-fat meat, fruits, various nuts, vegetables and cereals. You can use for food and feed for cats and dogs, but only in special cases, when the raccoon does not get enough vitamins from the usual diet.

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Feed the animal 3 times a day. In the morning at 8:00, in the evening around 18: 00-19: 00 and at night at 23:00.

Raccoon in captivity is most often very discriminating in food. Therefore, their tastes are quite different, for example, one will gladly eat fish, and the second and close to it will not do. In this case, you should study your pet’s favorite treats.


What Do Raccoons Eat? Raccoon Diet Explained

What Do Raccoons Eat? Raccoon Diet Explained

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Diet is a primary concern for humans. We may stick to a diet to lose weight, to fight disease or just to keep ourselves healthy. Humans are omnivorous and with so many food choices available, it is not always easy to stick to healthy eating habits. Raccoons are omnivorous too, but unlike humans they don’t pay too much attention to their raccoon diet.

A raccoon diet is important for you, however, and deserves your attention. Why? So that you don’t attract food-seeking raccoons to your neighborhood . You want a clean, raccoon free environment around your house, and to do that you need to know: What do raccoons eat in the wild?

A pet raccoon diet may differ slightly from the wild raccoon diet. Here we will focus on what raccoons eat in the wild.

What Is a Raccoon Diet Like In The Wild?

Raccoons are omnivorous and usually not fussy about food. When there are plenty of options, the creatures may be somewhat picky and choose their favorite meal. However, raccoons aren’t usually that lucky, so generally speaking they eat whatever is available .

The raccoon is designed to be a perfect omnivorous eating machine that can comfortably adapt to whatever environment he lives in. For example, his dexterous hands make hunting for food very simple. Raccoon hands are perfectly built for climbing trees, exploring the surrounding environment, searching hollows, grabbing hold of things and so on.

A raccoon’s hands are even equipped with sharp claws that can easily kill small prey and severely wound bigger animals. Thanks to his pointy teeth, once the raccoon manages to find some food, chewing and swallowing is a walk in the park.

With these built-in capabilities, it is not surprising that the raccoon diet varies depending on habitat , season and the availability of food.

Nevertheless, there are certain foods that are all-time favorites , like fruit and nuts. These are staples of the raccoon diet.

It is not unusual in late summer to see raccoons ravaging apple or cherry trees or any other fruit available in the area. The same goes for berries, which raccoons love. When these fruits are on hand, a raccoon prefers them to worms or insects. Can you blame him?

Nuts become an essential element in the raccoon diet as winter approaches. In late summer and early autumn, you may see the raccoon hunting for walnuts, acorns, beechnuts and similar foods that are rich in calories. Finding filling food like nuts is a matter of survival for the raccoon.

Before the winter kicks in, he needs to store up fat to have a sufficient supply of energy to survive the cold. A raccoon knows all too well that in wintertime finding food is a challenging task. Instead, a raccoon will spend most of his time sleeping , and the fat stored mainly in his tail will keep him alive. Adding nuts to his diet before the cold arrives is therefore a matter of life and death.

Grains and corn are an additional source of food for raccoons, as farmers know very well. If there is a corn field in the neighborhood, it may quickly become the favorite dining spot for the local raccoon community.

Do raccoons eat meat? Of course they do; after all, they are omnivorous. Raccoons hunt and eat animals primarily in springtime when other foods like vegetables, fruits and nuts are scarce or not available.

In general, raccoons prefer to hunt small animals. Sometimes they resort to capturing bigger prey like large birds and mammals, but usually raccoons go for small prey that is slow, easy to catch and less likely to fight back. The raccoon’s most common prey are mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, worms and insects. If it’s easy to catch, it is a call to action for any raccoon.

The critters are even known to be good fishers. They are not afraid of water and often supplement their diets with frogs, fish, turtles, crayfish and even mollusks.

In keeping with his opportunistic nature, a raccoon will from time to time feed on other animals’ eggs or hatchlings stolen from the nest. If you think that’s not so nice, there is an even creepier side to the animal.

What raccoons eat in the wild may include carrion . That sounds disgusting to humans, and it’s probably not the raccoon’s favorite either. However, from the raccoon’s point of view, a dead animal is a straightforward source of sustenance that’s readily available without putting any effort into catching or killing it. That sounds like the perfect meal for a raccoon, and as a truly omnivorous creature he does not mind eating it.

What Is a Raccoon Diet In Metropolitan Areas?

The information above should sound like a warning signal if you live in an area inhabited by raccoons.

It is not just a matter of what do raccoons eat. As we just explained, there is almost nothing a raccoon won’t eat. The most worrisome aspect of the raccoon diet is that he always goes for the easy solution , and this is the biggest problem for many homeowners.

In a choice between food that he loves and food that he can get without any effort, well, the raccoon would probably go for the latter. That is the primary reason raccoons can easily adapt to living in urban areas and why they visit houses so often .

In some ways, the city life is quite easy for a raccoon. All he has to do is roam around and he will quickly find something to eat. Moreover, once a raccoon finds a source of food that is regularly available, he will become a repeat customer.

So, what do raccoons like to eat in metropolitan areas? The most common sources of food for raccoons in the city are trashcans . That’s where you put your daily leftovers, and what you throw away becomes the raccoon’s next meal. The foul odor coming from your trashcan is highly inviting to the animal, who can smell it from far away. If the scent reaches his nostrils, come nighttime he will pay a visit to your trashcan for sure.

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But this is not the only food that may attract a raccoon to your yard. If you have fruit trees or berries , a raccoon may come by and enjoy your produce before you ever have the chance to pick it — after all, fruits and berries are still a raccoon favorite, even for a raccoon living in an urban area.

What about your pet food ? Raccoons love it. If you leave it outside during the night, it is entirely possible that a raccoon will come by and eat it. Raccoons can become so addicted to this kind of food that sometimes they are brave enough to swing by in the daytime and fight over it with your pet .

The same is true when it comes to bird feeders . As we explained, raccoons love grains and nuts, especially during the cold season. This is exactly the same time when you are most likely to use a bird feeder to help birds in your garden. The bird feeder can quickly become an easy supply of high-calorie food for the raccoon. He will be so eager to reach the food inside that he will break your bird feeder into pieces in no time.

These are the most common foods that make up the raccoon diet in the city, but guess what? There are still plenty of other opportunities to find food around your house. Raccoons may like to fish in your pond or dig in your garden looking for grubs and worms. If you have a chicken coop , both the eggs and birds can be an easy target for the critter.

Not to mention how appealing your compost pile may be. The smell of the rotting waste is amazingly enticing to raccoons. If a raccoon will feed on carrion, then your compost pile is an even better option. In it, he can find rotten vegetables, fruit and even worms — a real banquet for a raccoon.

When raccoons are living in your neighborhood, you always need to be on the lookout and anticipate their next move.

How To Prevent A Raccoon From Eating In Your Garden

With so many inviting opportunities in your yard, it is critical for you to prevent raccoons from visiting your house regularly.

The task may be more difficult you expect . Raccoons are great with their hands, which are small but pretty powerful. You may try hard to secure your yard, but raccoons will work even harder to break in anyway. Most of the time, they’re successful.

For this reason, we advise you to take a look at our complete guide to preventing raccoons from visiting your yard . You shouldn’t wait until you spot raccoons around your house to start taking precautions. If raccoons are living in your neighborhood, take preventive measures immediately.

Many people prefer to feed raccoons instead of keeping them away — some of your neighbors may even have this habit. The point is that raccoons, like any other wildlife, do not need to be fed by humans . This is detrimental for the animals in the long run.

With all the things that a raccoon can eat, he will not suffer if you raccoon-proof your garden. Keeping raccoons away from your house is important to avoid serious issues for you and your family.

A raccoon that gets used to your home may pose a threat to your pets and even to your family . It doesn’t happen often, but your pet could get into a fight with one of the critters , and if that happens, there will not be a happy ending for your pet.

In addition, a raccoon that regularly visits your yard will leave droppings , or he may even transform your house into his latrine. Raccoon droppings are highly hazardous to human health, as raccoons and their feces are carriers of several serious diseases. You want to prevent exposure to these diseases at any cost.

Just as a raccoon enjoys easy meals, he also loves comfortable denning. Your house may offer plenty of ready-to-use dens. The classic ones are the chimney and the attic . If he chooses your home as a den, it may take a considerable amount of money to get rid of the raccoon and repair the damage he causes .

These are all valid reasons to take action immediately and secure your house . Make sure you eliminate any sources of food or water around your home. If the raccoon cannot find an easy meal, he will have no reason to visit your yard again.

Trapping A Raccoon Using His Food

Another option is to use what you just learned about the raccoon diet to trap him . After setting the trap, put some of the raccoon’s favorite food inside to attract the animal. You could use sweet fruits, vegetables, corn, cat food or even marshmallows. All make good bait.

But even if you use some of the foods that raccoons find irresistible, trapping a raccoon is not always as easy as it sounds. Apart from choosing the right bait, you need to use the right trap, set it in the right position, prepare it in a way that the animal will not get hurt and so on. If you do not have the necessary experience, you may end up trapping either the wrong raccoon or another animal entirely.

If you decide to try trapping, you should consider hiring a wildlife specialist like Get Raccoons Out. We have the necessary experience to trap raccoons successfully. Most important, we know how to release the animal according to the local regulations — which is, in fact, the next problem you need to solve after trapping a raccoon.

If you have raccoons in your neighborhood, or you are already having difficulties with the critters, act quickly and put an end to your problem . Contact Get Raccoons Out and our experts will help you find the best solution for your nuisance.


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