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How Big Can a Raccoon Get?

Last Updated: 16.04.24


Have you ever found tipped garbage cans or your garden destroyed? You might have had some nocturnal visitors such as raccoons and before knowing what’s the best raccoon trap you can get, here are some facts about these inquisitive and clever creatures.

From how big raccoons get to what they eat and where they usually live, we have it covered in today’s post. Check it out so you’ll be able to identify raccoon damage, make your house raccoon-proof, and minimize any health risk and house damage in case you decide to tame and keep one as a pet.


Physical characteristics

Scientifically named Procyon lotor, raccoons are clever, social, nocturnal animals living in North America, Europe, and Japan. Although there are various species of raccoons, the physical characteristics that set them apart are the gray fur, black face mask, and the black rings around their tail.

Raccoons are usually 12-inch tall and reach a length that varies from 24 to 38 inches. As far as their weight is concerned, a raccoon weighs up to 25 lbs or so and is heavier during winter because of its winter coat and fat reserves. They grow quickly and reach sexual maturity around the age of 6 months or so.

Male raccoons weigh more than female raccoons and can reach up to 60 pounds yet such cases are rare. There is a variety of factors that affect the weight of a raccoon. Genetics, age, food availability, and habitat, all contribute to how big these animals get.

Older raccoons, for example, are the heaviest. Plus, those that have no food restrictions like the ones that live in captivity where the owners provide them with a varied diet may get bigger than some of the raccoon species living in the wild. The ones living in urban settings with access to garbage and pet food are also larger.

Raccoon habitat and diet

Raccoons usually live in wooded areas where there is abundant vegetation and water and they build their nests in burrows or trees. They can travel up to 18 miles to find food. Still, they adapt quite easily and can thus be seen in urban and suburban areas where they can either have their own secluded den or make one in attics and barns.

Raccoons have a very diverse diet eating almost anything they find. Since they are omnivores, they will not hold back from having insects, frogs, fish, eggs, fruits, and nuts. The ones living in urban areas will even have human food since fresh vegetation and wildlife are limited here. That’s why they find garbage cans irresistible.


Damages raccoons cause

Raccoons are mainly known for two things: their cuteness and their destructive behavior. They like to inventory garbage cans, explore new places including gardens and houses, and leave a mess behind. Despite all that, raccoons are getting popular as pets, even if some professionals advise against that.

Identifying raccoon-caused damages is not that complicated. They will make sure the results of their curious nature and activities get noticed. They tip over garbage cans, damage crops by chewing sweet corn and hollowing out watermelons, raid bird feeders, and the list could go on.

If your place shows such signs and you also see raccoon tracks with five long fingers and toes that resemble human hands, then it is safe to assume that your place has been explored by a raccoon. They’re nocturnal animals, so expect to see such signs of unwanted guests in the morning.

Health risks

Besides damaging your various belongings, raccoons pose health risks. They carry infectious diseases such as rabies and zoonotic parasites. Plus, their droppings may be dangerous as they may contain raccoon roundworm. The egg spores are airborne and thus can get inside your system quite easily through breathing.

Raccoons kept in captivity should be vaccinated but, even so, the rabies vaccine used for them is the one used for dogs as well and its effectiveness still raises some questions. The wild ones pose an even greater risk since they don’t get any medical care or vaccine. Therefore, if a raccoon bites you or you come in contact with its droppings, it is recommended to see a doctor.

In case you want to raise a raccoon and the state you live in allows you to do so from a legal point of view, you might want to consider these health risks. Plus, these animals can develop skin and urinary tract infections, get fleas, and develop various intestinal parasites.

Given their unpredictable behavior, raccoons may become aggressive and bite. They are wild animals and they will keep their natural instincts even when they live indoors and seem to be tamed. Raccoons can be partially domesticated indeed yet a part of them will always remain wild. Injuries are thus likely to occur if a raccoon is around.


How to protect your house from raccoons

If you live in an area where raccoons live, too, and you’d like to make sure they won’t damage your property, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of them reaching your belongings.

They target garbage cans and gardens for food, therefore, try to avoid leaving food exposed. Get some cans with heavy lids that can be tightly closed. If you can’t find such lids, you can use something heavy like bricks to keep them in place.

It is best to keep the trash cans in a place that is not accessible to animals such as a garage. If you have pets, keep their food indoors. Remove fruits from the ground as raccoons might find them appealing.

You can also block their access to your yard by using raccoon traps. If you don’t want to go for the classic ones, try bright motion-sensing lights, ultrasonic repellents, or motion-activated sprinklers to discourage them from exploring your place. In order to prevent them from reaching your house, cover the openings under the shed or porch.

If you think there might be a raccoon living in your attic or shed but you can’t actually hear anything, cover any opening with a newspaper and if it is left untouched for a couple of days or so, then it means there are no raccoons. You can then cover the opening with something that cannot be broken.

Keeping raccoons as pets

If you wonder about how big a raccoon gets because you want to keep one as a pet, there are some things you should check before doing so. First of all, make sure there are no legal restrictions in your state as far as raccoon ownership is concerned.

In case the law allows you to house one, then find a veterinarian that could help you cater to the animal’s various health needs. Consider the health risks we have mentioned above and see your doctor if you ever get hurt by a raccoon.

Provide your raccoon with a generous place to explore and decorate it with various toys and items the animal could climb. Don’t leave the raccoon to roam free in your house as it will not hold back from damaging your belongings. However, utmost attention should be paid to where the raccoon lives as these mammals have unpredictable behavior and may become aggressive.




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Bryan Christopher Kirshon

May 18, 2020 at 3:26 pm

I just saw a huge male raccoon it must have been over 40 pounds in weight i kept my distance from it then it went on it’s way. They are usually active at night so raccoon proof your trash cans from bears also. Cheers.


May 19, 2020 at 9:29 am

Cheers, Brian. Thanks for your input!

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