In case you are living in a raccoon-infested area, you might be interested in reading our recent post regarding effective ways to keep these critters away from your property. While many people see these animals as real pests, others keep them as pets.
Nowadays, we can see more and more animal species becoming domesticated and raised in human homes. Therefore, it is only natural to ask yourself if raccoons can make appropriate pets.
These animals are certainly not common pets. However, those who decide to invite a raccoon into their homes find them to be fascinating and funny companions. Raccoons are a lot like puppies or large ferrets but still have features that are specific to their species. Also, they are always full of mischief. There are many experts who advise against keeping such animals as pets because they are very challenging to tame and also have health issues which are difficult to manage.
Behavior and Temperament
Raccoons are active, intelligent, social, and nocturnal animals. They also have a destructive and unpredictable nature, even the ones who are tamed or born into captivity. These animals do not do well in cages. Still, their sharp claws and teeth can destroy things and injure owners or other pets.
On the other side, raccoons are clever enough to become litter trained, social enough to play with their human parents, and they are utterly adorable to most owners. They can even learn to respond to some command words, similarly to cats or dogs, and can even learn to understand the tone of voice of a person.
Nevertheless, raccoons are unpredictable animals and are likely to damage your belongings. While they can make adorable companions, the reality is that these are and will remain wild animals.
Housing a Raccoon
You cannot cage a raccoon for a long period. Therefore, many owners use large dog crates to contain these pets when they are not home. A raccoon will spend most of his or her time playing, roaming around the house, exploring, climbing on things, and, of course, being mischievous.
This means that your home has to be childproofed. Raccoons like to climb on bookshelves, chew on cords, or knock down things. They are just too active to simply sit in a cage for a long time, so you need to provide a lot of room for him or her to feel entertained.
If space allows you, it would be ideal to set up an outdoor enclosure for your pet as well. This is an excellent alternative when you are too busy or have to go out and want your pet to have enough room to exercise.
Keep in mind that an outdoor pen must be completely enclosed. Also, your raccoon has to have access to water, food, shelter, and various structures for jumping and climbing. You can also include toys in order to keep your cute friend entertained.
Raccoons are omnivores. This means that they eat both vegetables and meat. In order to maintain your pet healthy and happy, you should include a variety of foods into your raccoon’s diet. You can provide dog food, vegetables, fruits, insects, or other protein sources.
In the wild, raccoons eat a lot of nuts in order to gather enough energy to keep them going until the winter passes. In the cold season, food sources are scarce, so they need these high-calorie reserves.
However, in the case of domesticated raccoons, things are different. Since food is available at all times, you should also offer treats such as nuts, but in lower quantities, in order to avoid obesity. In fact, any fatty food should be offered with caution.
You can also use food to keep your pet entertained. Various activities will keep your mischievous pet from getting into trouble. They definitely do not like getting bored.
You can feed a baby raccoon with a milk replacement. You can find this product in any pet store. Please keep in mind that cow’s milk or human baby formula should not be offered to a baby raccoon. Once the kit is a few weeks old, you can wean him or her to soft foods, and later to a full range of foods.
You should know that these pets are messy eaters because they usually like to dunk their food in the water dish before eating it. This means that you should provide plenty of fresh water that you need to change regularly. Also, we recommend setting up the eating spot in an area that is easy to clean up.
Possible Health Issues
Before getting a raccoon, it is very important to find a veterinarian who is willing to treat these animals. Even in areas where owning raccoons is legal, it can be difficult to find such a vet. These animals are susceptible to rabies and distemper. Many owners are vaccinating them with a canine killed rabies vaccine but it is unknown if this vaccine is really protective for raccoons.
You should also know that in case of a human bite incident, the local regulatory agencies will most likely not accept the vaccine as being effective. Also, they will confiscate and euthanize the raccoon.
The most common medical issues raccoons can develop include obesity, fleas, skin infections, urinary tract infections, and intestinal parasites. Raccoons that are raised by breeders and adopted as babies are less prone to developing these diseases. Nevertheless, it is essential to have your pet neutered or spayed, vaccinated and dewormed regularly.
Is it Legal?
Another thing you should do prior to getting a raccoon is making sure that it is legal to keep such a pet. There are many areas in which it is illegal. Raccoons are illegal in states such as Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Louisiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, or Maryland, but these are not the only ones.
Also, there are states in which there are specific laws concerning raccoon ownership. For example, in some states, it is legal to own such an animal, but it is illegal to import them from outside the state.
It is recommended to check with your local and state regulatory laws before you get yourself a raccoon as a pet. There are many states that also consider raccoons to be native wildlife and fur-bearing animals and have specific laws that concern these kinds of animals.
Additionally, you should also check the laws regarding ownership. For example, what happens with your raccoon in case he or she gets loose? What happens if he or she scratches or bites someone? There are many states in which the laws are very harsh when it comes to the treatment of wild animals that are kept as pets.
Is it Worth it?
Surely, raccoons are cute animals. The internet is full of short videos that show pet-raccoons being all sweet and adorable. And they are! However, before considering one as a pet, we also recommend that you do some planning. First of all, is it legal in your area, and did you find a veterinarian who is willing to take care of him or her?
If the answers are affirmative, then ask yourself the following: do you have enough space to keep your pet entertained? Are you willing to change your routine and also make your home safe for a raccoon? Do you accept the various health risks that may affect the raccoon, yourself, your family, and your other pets?
You see, it does not matter what kind of animal we are referring to. For any type, there are changes you need to do. But here we are talking about a wild animal which will continue its wild habits even indoors because it is in its blood. You can keep a raccoon as a pet, but you also need to think things through before you decide to get one.