What To Feed Wild Raccoons
What to Feed Raccoons
- 1 What to Feed Raccoons
- 2 Video of the Day
- 3 Should you feed raccoons in the neighborhood?
- 4 How to Feed Wild Raccoons in Your Yard
- 5 What should I feed the wild raccoons that come into my yard ?
- 6 The Dangers of Feeding Raccoons and Skunks
- 7 What Are the Risks Associated with Feeding These Wild Animals?
- 8 Use Repellents to Keep Raccoons and Skunks Away
- 9 No More Skunks and Raccoons at Aunt Jan’s House!
Video of the Day
Despite their reputation for being meddlesome, disease-carrying scavengers, raccoons are actually highly intelligent, playful creatures that can make great pets if cared for properly. These nocturnal, opportunistic creatures have adapted extremely well to life in suburbia, feeding on the garbage of households across America. In captivity, raccoons will eat everything from table scraps to high-protein cat food.
Pet raccoons will eat just about anything, but it’s important to provide them with a balanced diet to avoid obesity and other health problems. If you are planning to keep a raccoon as a pet, it’s OK to feed him chopped up, prepared food like you would a cat or dog. But if you plan to release him into the wild at some poknt, you’ll want to present his food as naturally as possible. This way, your raccoon will develop the scavenging and hunting techniques he’ll need to survive.
Provide your raccoon with a constant supply of water in a small dish or trough. Always keep water in the same place so your raccoon will know where to find it. Raccoons love to wash their food before eating it, so make sure there is water present whenever he eats.
Feed your raccoon a diverse, balanced diet rich in protein. In general you want to avoid simple carbohydrates and focus on hearty foods like eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, chicken, fish and turkey. You can feed him table scraps as long as it’s relatively healthy. It’s also perfectly fine to give your raccoon a treat occasionally to reinforce good behavior, though raccoons tend to be a bit more unruly than standard domestic animals.
Baby raccoons require very different care. Separated from their mothers, baby raccoons are entirely defenseless and susceptible to dehydration. Feed baby raccoons puppy replacement powder in an equal mixture of sterilized water and goat’s milk. Never feed a baby raccoon cow’s milk. Babies should be fed multiple times a day. Consult a vet for additional vitamins to help keep the baby strong and healthy.
Feeding Wild Raccoons
Feeding raccoons outside your home can be a fun way to build a relationship with these charming animals and observe them socializing. There’s no right or wrong way to feed wild raccoons, though there are some guidelines you should follow to avoid harming the animals and yourself.
Provide your raccoons with plenty of healthy food that is rich in protein. This could include a mix of nuts, fruit, peanut butter, fish, turkey and chicken. Raccoons love dog and cat food, too. If you’re feeding a large group of raccoons, place several different plates of food so they don’t fight each other over dibs. Raccoons are generally peaceful animals, but they will get vicious if there’s a scarcity of food.
Don’t feed wild raccoons by hand. They are cute and cuddly-looking, but raccoons have sharp claws and teeth. They also carry rabies, a potentially deadly disease. If a raccoon bites you, it will be taken away by the authorities and killed.
Don’t let the raccoons get too accustomed to free food or they will demand it when you cut them off. Stagger their meals so that they continue to forage and hunt for themselves and only return to your yard every couple of days. This is better for you and for the animals in the long run.
Should you feed raccoons in the neighborhood?
It’s fun to feed raccoons. They will eat pet food right out of a bowl, and they will be cute about it. They sit there, with their little hands, and they pick up the food, and it’s fun. They will eat almost anything, and if there’s water nearby, they might dunk the food in the water. They’ll come back every night for your viewing pleasure. Great, right?
OVERPOPULATION: While it may be fun to feed raccoons, it’s not a nice thing to do. The problem is that in the natural environment (that means your neighborhood), there is only a certain amount of food for each animal. If you put extra food outside, the animals will eat it, and they will grow plump and healthy and more of their babies will survive, etc. But the problem is that if the food ever stops (and are you really going to put out food EVERY DAY for years?) there will not be enough other food to sustain these animals, who have made a habit of visiting your house, and now they will start to starve, they will compete with other animals, and all of the animals will suffer.
LOSE FEAR OF HUMANS: Also, you’ve now trained a raccoon to seek out people for food. You stand a much greater risk of raccoons tearing into your roof or soffit, and trying to nest there.
SPREAD DISEASES: Also, increasing the animal population in an area, due to feeding, means more crowding and spread of disease, particularly when the food supply is erratic or stops.
I highly recommend against feeding raccoons, either on purpose, or by accident, such as via pet food or open garbage cans. In some cases of agressive raccoon feeding, I’ve seen full-on raccoon infestations with dozens of needy animals fighting for scraps. Read more about Do raccoons attack people?
Raccoon prevention — Yes, you can prevent raccoons from entering your home, but you’re not going to accomplish it with any commercial products. Ignore all the advertising on chemical sprays, sound makers, ultrasonic emitters, and sulfur bombs; this is just a waste of money. If there’s a hole in your home, the raccoon can get in. You need to keep up with the exterior of your building if you want to be free of nuisance animals. This is true for all pest creatures. It only takes one hole, large enough to squeeze through or widen with force, for an animal to invade your house. If you’ve already taken the steps to fortify your home, you can turn your attention to the property. Do not feed raccoons: leaving out items like compost, pet food, fallen fruit, and garbage bags will only encourage wildlife to investigate your property. Few animals will turn their noses up at a free meal, and a raccoon is no exception. This particular animal will even teach itself how to undo latches and open containers. Avoid tempting raccoons. Keep your garbage inside until the last possible moment. If you must keep compost, do so in a special composting barrel. Keep pet food inside, and clean up from your fruit-bearing plants regularly.
Below is another reader email, in which the person had to feed a raccoon trapped inside!
Having looked up Wisconsin’s laws regarding the disposition of trapped nuisance animals I plan to call the company listed in your directory in the Milwaukee area as soon as I think someone is there to answer the phone. It’s 5:00 AM and I’m trying to lure the brats into just leaving by opening the door to the upstairs and the outside door. I don’t really have hope of this working, but it’d be cheaper than hiring trappers. I just hope this type of service isn’t horribly expensive. These raccoons have already cost me $70 for new ducts and $120 because the cheap airfare I got for flying back to Florida from Wisconsin was no long available when I realized they were trapped in the attic/upstairs and I had to change my flight to stay and resolve the problem — and using up another week of vacation time from work while this is taken care of. Some people have bats in their belfry—I have raccoons in my attic!
We had holes in our roof and before having them fixed and a new roof put on I tried very hard to make sure there weren’t any raccoons in the house. The roofers looked in when they patched the holes and I went up and crawled around and didn’t see any recent evidence except for the torn up ductwork. Not even any scat. (See, my Saturday morning animal shows paid off regarding my using the technically correct term.) I figured they had been in there because the neighbors saw them, but I thought they’d left with all the activity. I didn’t hear anything for at least 4 days and then I thought it was coming from the roof while they were looking for another way in. But then I heard noises definitely coming from the upstairs apartment. Growls and yapping like a dog and stuff thrown around. When I finally got the courage to go up and look, there were pawprints on the glass of the door leading to one of the apartments. No one has lived up there in a long time so when we had had another leak patched awhile ago it had already ruined the drywall ceiling up there and the plaster ceiling on the downstairs. I concentrated on redoing the downstairs and didn’t bother with the upstairs, leaving a hole in the ceiling to the attic. It turns out that was a good thing. I’ve been able to give them food and water while deciding how to get them out. I finally saw one the other day as it walked away from the food dish, sauntered to the stove, climbed to the top of the fridge, turned around and gave me a look like, «I WAS eating,» and disappeared into the hole in the ceiling. I didn’t realize at first that the floor in the attic doesn’t actually touch the roof, allowing them to access the space between the roof and ceiling where the ceiling joists are.
I haven’t heard any chattering (I say chittering) from babies, but maybe that’s because the mother isn’t gone long enough for them to get upset. I was hoping the one I saw was too young to have babies. By Florida standards she’s maybe only 1/2 grown and I didn’t get a good enough look at the right angle to see if she (?) was lactating. But on the off chance there are babies up there, it is now beyond my desire to do this myself. A friend does have live traps and the raccoons are used to the free meals of cat food so I probably could get them in a cage, but hunting around for babies is my limit.
I’ve been inadvertantly feeding raccoons and possums in Florida for years because I have 2 feral cats which I feed outside and I have video on my phone of the mother bringing the babies. But the only time I heard growling was when a LARGE male came in chasing them all. The one in my attic is definitely growly and aggressive. Maybe another reason to «call in the pros».
In going forward, you say there is no way to deter these adorable creatures. However, are they strong enough to tear out a solid 1″x6″? As I mentioned, we just had a new roof put on and any weak wood replaced. The only thing I’m worried about otherwise is the vents the roofers put in. I had them put the mesh used under plaster across the chimney and hold it in with tapcons. Now I’m thinking about using the same thing on the attic side of the roof where they cut the boards for the vents since there are just openings under the vents themselves. I just have to be sure to use short enough screws to not puncture the shingles.
Again, just thought my little saga might amuse you. Thank you for what you do and for the website with all the great info. I might have ended up with the horrible trappers that one person wrote you about.
How to Feed Wild Raccoons in Your Yard
Raccoons are great fun to watch while they eat and play. Their cute faces and perky ways always cheer a person up. They are always looking for food, especially at night, so if you offer them food that they will like, you will get to see them play and be entertained.
Following are a few ways of feeding raccoons in your yard:
- Wait for dark. Raccoons sleep during the day and venture out at night. Don’t light up your yard too much, and try to keep noise at a minimum, since that will keep them away.
- Leave a plate of table scraps or dog food in an area with some light so you can observe them too. Raccoons also like water so make sure you leave some water with the food. They love peanut butter, grapes, cornbread and dog or cat food chow. They also like sliced apples and bananas. They love cakes and cookies but try not to give too much of that. The only food they don’t seem to like is rice and raw carrots.
- Within a few minutes you will see raccoons appear. They usually appear with their masked faces and attack the food. Give them food cut into bits to help them eat. They will usually stand on their hind legs and hold the food in their front paws and play and fight as they pick the best pieces from each other.
What should I feed the wild raccoons that come into my yard ?
February 10, 2016 8:27PM
Nothing. It is not a good idea to feed wild animals and get them
used to being around you. If they lose their fear of humans they
will go up to someone who will hurt them, or you may lure them to
your house and a larger predator will catch them while they are
Wild raccoons can also be quite destructive and carry
The Dangers of Feeding Raccoons and Skunks
My Aunt Jan is a kind-hearted soul who never met an animal she didn’t immediately fall in love with. When she told me she had been feeding the raccoons that had seen scampering across her backyard, I certainly wasn’t surprised.
You’d think Aunt Jan would have learned her lesson after a previous incident when feeding skunks on her property eventually led to Jennie, her cherished eight-year-old Chihuahua, getting an unwelcome dose of skunk spray. Unfortunately, I knew it was only a matter of time before she was leaving food scraps out for hungry critters again.
What Are the Risks Associated with Feeding These Wild Animals?
Skunks and raccoons are wild animals looking for a readily available food source, and feeding them will encourage them to keep coming back for more. While you might think you are doing a good thing by feeding skunks or raccoons, you could actually be jeopardizing the health of your family and your pets.
As an animal control professional, I’ve encountered many situations in which humans have received a nasty bite when attempting to feed an animal by hand. Skunks and rabbits sometimes carry rabies, which can be transmitted via biting, and their urine and feces can also spread disease. Raccoon secretions, for instance, can transmit leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause flu-like symptoms or even kidney and liver problems. While a skunk’s spray isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can cause eye irritation and even temporary blindness.
The bottom line: you don’t want to feed them and encourage them onto your property.
Use Repellents to Keep Raccoons and Skunks Away
Rather than feeding skunks and raccoons and exposing your loved ones to the risk of injury or illness, the smarter course of action is to deter them from entering your property. I’ve discovered that Havahart® Spray Away™ is an excellent product for keeping away raccoons, skunks and just about anything else with four legs.
Just connect this motion-activated sprinkler to your water supply. When an animal approaches, the infrared proximity sensor detects the motion and unleashes several jets of water. The unexpected bursts and the “tic-tic-tic” sound the device makes upon activation frightens away even the most daring critters, and it keeps them from coming back.
No More Skunks and Raccoons at Aunt Jan’s House!
Once I assured Aunt Jan that Havahart® Spray Away™ would in no way harm any animal, she let me install it in her yard, and her critter visits were soon a thing of the past. She’s no longer feeding skunks or raccoons; instead, she’s giving all her leftovers to Jennie. Now, if only Havahart™ could help with a diet plan for a chunky Chihuahua …