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.
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.
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.
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.