What Do Raccoons Eat?

Last Updated: 20.11.19

 

Raccoons are cute creatures but not everyone likes them so much, especially when they get into your garden and start doing damage. If that happened to you, reading some reviews of repellents for raccoons might help you.

Before you decide to get rid of these furry intruders and waste time with methods that do not work, understanding their preference in food might be useful in fighting them off.

Dieting is more of a concern for humans. We can stick to a diet to fight disease, to lose weight, or simply to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Humans are also omnivores and since there are so many food options available, it is not so easy to always stick to healthy eating habits. Raccoons are also omnivores, but unlike us, they do not pay so much attention to a specific diet.

Still, a raccoon’s diet is important for you! Yes, knowing what these animals eat will prevent you from attracting food-seeking little rascals to your area. If you want a clean, raccoon-free environment, this is an essential aspect to consider.

 

What Do Raccoons Eat in the Wild?

These animals are omnivorous as well, and they are not too fussy when it comes to food. It goes without saying, when there is plenty of food to choose from, they may become picky and select their favorite meal. Still, raccoons are not always that lucky, so they will usually eat whatever is available.

Moreover, these creatures are designed to adapt to the environment they live in. Their hands, for example, are built in such a way that they can search hollows, climb trees, grab hold of things, and explore the surrounding environment.

A raccoon’s hand has sharp claws that can kill small prey easily but also injure bigger animals severely. Once it finds food, chewing and swallowing it is easy, due to its pointy teeth.

Thanks to these built-in skills, a raccoon’s diet varies depending on the season, habitat, as well as the availability of food. Nevertheless, there are certain meals these animals prefer such as nuts and fruits.

For this reason, it is not unusual to see raccoons raiding cherry or apple trees late in the summer. Berries are also loved by these creatures, and they will definitely choose this type of food if available. If not, raccoons will also eat insects or worms.

Late in the summer or early in the autumn, raccoons search for walnuts, beechnuts, acorns, or any other similar nuts. As winter approaches, they make provisions with foods that are rich in calories. In the same period, these animals store up fat in order to have enough supplies of energy to survive the cold weather.

Raccoons instinctively know that during the winter food supplies are low and it is a much challenging task to find meals. During the cold season, a raccoon spends most of its time sleeping, as the fat previously stored is enough to keep the animal alive. That is why nuts are an essential part of a raccoon’s diet, especially before winter.

These cute critters also like corn and grains. Farmers know it too well. If there is a cornfield nearby, it can become the favorite dining place for the local raccoon community, in no time.

 

 

Hunting Time

As previously mentioned, raccoons are omnivorous. Therefore, they also eat meat. Usually, they hunt much more in the springtime, since nuts, fruits, and vegetables are scarce or not yet available.

Generally, raccoons hunt small animals such as mice, squirrels, rats, snakes, rabbits, insects, and worms. The easier the prey is to catch, the more attractive it becomes to a raccoon. There are cases when they also hunt bigger prey like birds and mammals. However, raccoons usually go for small prey that is easy to catch, slow, and unlikely to fight back. Moreover, raccoons are also known to be great fishers. They are certainly not afraid of water, and they can also supplement their diets with fish, frogs, crayfish, turtles, and mollusks.

Since raccoons are known for their opportunistic nature, they can also feed on other animals’ eggs or hatchlings that they steal from their nests. In the wild, raccoons can also feed on carrion. Even if it is not a favorite meal, a dead animal is still a straightforward source of food for which no effort is required.

 

Raccoons in the City

If we did not specify this very clearly, you should know that these animals will always choose to eat food that is easy to get and for which they do not have to put a lot of effort into obtaining. For this reason, raccoons can easily adapt to human habitats and if you live in an area where these creatures also thrive, you are very likely to be visited by them.  

In some ways, we can say that city life is actually easy for a raccoon. All it needs to do is walk around and it will soon find something to eat. Also, if a source of food is usually available, the raccoon will become a loyal customer.

The most popular sources of food for raccoons in the metropolitan areas are trash cans. That is where daily leftovers are put. Basically, what you throw away becomes a raccoon’s next meal. The odor coming from a trashcan may seem foul to you, but it is highly inviting to the animal who can sense it from afar.

Your trashcan is not the only thing that can attract these animals to your yard. If you have berries or fruit trees, a raccoon can come by and enjoy your fruits before you even get a chance to pick them. In case you have pets, you should know that raccoons love pet food. If you leave some of it outside during the night, you can be sure you will find the bowl cleaned up in the morning.

 

 

Raccoons really like this food, and they might even come during the day and fight over it with your pet. In case you live in a raccoon-infested area, it is best to keep all your pet food inside the house.

It is the same situation with bird feeders. In case you have any in your yard, they can quickly become an easy supply of food for raccoons. Moreover, they will be so eager to get the food inside that they will break the feeder into pieces. If you ever find anything like that in your yard, you will not be wrong to suspect a raccoon for the deed.

These are the most common foods a raccoon can easily find in the city. But there are other things that can attract their attention towards your property. They can start digging your garden in search of worms. If you have a pond, they could start fishing. Also, if you have a chicken coop, both the birds and the eggs are potential targets for these critters.

Your compost pile is another appealing treat for raccoons. Since they can feed on carrion, the compost pile is even better for them. In it, they can find rotten fruits, vegetables, and even worms. This can be a real banquet for a raccoon. As you can see, there is basically nothing a raccoon won’t eat. Even if these animals have their favorite foods, they will feast on anything they can find available.

 

 

Bibliography:

1) Description and rage of a raccoon

2) What do raccoons eat

3) A not so picky palate

4) The Raccoon: A Study in Animal Intelligence

 

 

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