If you’re in North America, raccoon encounters around the city are probably nothing new to you. Raccoons are curious, smart, and adorable creatures that have adapted to the urban environment. This makes you wonder: Is it possible to have raccoons as pets?
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- Can You Domesticate a Raccoon
- Are Raccoons Good Pets
- How Long Do Raccoons Live in Captivity
- What Can Raccoons Eat
- Where Is It Legal to Own a Raccoon
Can You Domesticate a Raccoon
Apart from the fact that it’s illegal in some areas, it’s rare to hear about people having raccoons as pets (if at all), and for good reason. Because they are hard to predict and are quite high-maintenance creatures, many animal experts do not recommend keeping raccoons as pets.
But can you domesticate a raccoon? As of now, a domesticated raccoon is yet to be heard of. While attempts to domesticate them have been made several times in the past, raccoons still exhibit instinctual and aggressive behaviors, making them hard to domesticate. Below are some of the reasons why:
They aren’t social
Unlike dogs and cats, who are often socially bonded with their human owners at any age, adult raccoons seem to be independent and prefer being isolated, making it a challenge to earn their trust.
They are too curious
Because raccoons like to forage, keeping them in a certain area for so long may lead to aggressive tendencies such as biting. They like moving from one place to another, so any attempts to contain them may cause chaos.
They are notorious biters
Training raccoons may prove difficult. For instance, when feeling stressed, famished, or upset, raccoons can be aggressive biters. While biting may also be evident in dogs and cats to an extent, they are trainable (especially because they value their affinity with their owners). On the other hand, raccoons (even those who have learned to bond with their owners) are notorious biters who may not control their biting tendencies.
Not to mention, raccoons are one of the rabies-vector species, so they may be carrying rabies even if they don’t show any symptoms, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research.
They make a mess of things
A raccoon's hands have similarities with human hands, having fine motor skills. Because of this, they can open things that humans can, they can get their hands into things quickly, and easily escape. In fact, in trying to domesticate raccoons, many have failed just because raccoons are escape artists who often find their way out.
When you take in a raccoon in your house as a pet, even if they remain inside your home, it’s highly likely for them to open up drawers, and the fridge, move things around, or ruin furniture.
In addition, there haven’t been any successful attempts at training raccoons to use a “litter box” like cats use them. Because of this, they may relieve themselves anywhere around your home, which can cause a stinky situation.
As of now, raccoons cannot be domesticated. However, since more raccoons are learning to coexist with humans, there may come a time when they can become domesticated by humans by way of natural selection and evolution. Science Direct studies have suggested that this is what happens with dogs, but we never know if or when it happens with raccoons.
Are Raccoons Good Pets
If you’re curious about having raccoons as pets, these questions may run through your mind:
- Are raccoons friendly?
- Do raccoons make good pets?
- Are raccoons aggressive?
- Do raccoons bite?
- Are raccoons smart?
Raccoons can be quite smart, can solve problems easily, and, not to mention, have good memories. But are raccoons good pets?
Even raccoons that were born and raised in captivity by humans still exhibit their natural tendencies, making them very high-maintenance pets. Raccoons won’t be happy being in cages or small rooms. Instead, they need space to move about, explore, and climb on things so as not to feel restricted.
With able hands that have fine motor skills and sharp teeth and claws, raccoons can destroy things inside your home, especially when boredom and curiosity (which are innate in them) strike. Also, they didn’t just get their nickname “masked bandits” from the dark circles around their eyes. They are also skilled thieves who can open drawers, fridges, latches, and many other things that can be opened.
Raccoons can bond with human owners, especially when they were born and raised in captivity. They can show affection and enjoy playing with their humans as well. Note, however, that this does not stop their instinct to bite when they get annoyed, stressed, afraid, or hungry. Being natural predators in the wild, they may also attack other pets (especially small pets) if you have any, so they’re better off as solo pets.
Raccoons need a lot of space, care, and supervision. So if you have a pet raccoon, it is important to be aware of their needs and how you can provide for them. A pet camera such as the Petcube Cam can help you monitor your pet raccoon closely. With its innovative features, coupled with a 24/7 online vet service, it allows you to better take care of your pet.
How Long Do Raccoons Live in Captivity
In captivity, a raccoon has a lifespan of 13 to 20 years. However, it’s important to note that quality of life does not equate to how long a raccoon can live. If their drives are not fulfilled, this may cause them frustration, which may lead to problems down the line such as depression and/or aggression.
Aggression may lead to pet emergencies. If you have other pets apart from your pet raccoon, your raccoon may bite your other pets when they’re stressed, hungry, or afraid. Because of this, it is important to be aware and prepared.
If you have a pet dog or cat, it helps to have a financial net and support during unexpected pet emergencies. Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund is a good insurance alternative to invest in. An annual subscription provides up to $3000 for pet emergencies for up to six pets. You also get access to their 24/7 online vet service for first-aid guidance and emergency triage.
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What Can Raccoons Eat
As omnivores, raccoons eat plants and meat. Feeding raccoons a balanced diet is best. This may include poultry, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, and insects. Nuts and other foods that are high in fat should only be given on occasion. Clean water should always be available to prevent them from getting dehydrated. It’s advised to consult with your veterinarians to determine the right variety of food, which can vary based on the size, age, and activity of your pet.
Where Is It Legal to Own a Raccoon
You may be wondering what states allow raccoons as pets. In the U.S., among these states are:
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Note, however, that some of these states require a license or special permit before they allow you to keep a raccoon as a pet. In Michigan, for example, they have two qualifications:
- The ownership of the raccoon must be veterinarian-approved.
- You have to get a wild animal permit.
Meanwhile, in Delaware, you need to get a wildlife rehabilitator permit from the Fish and Wildlife Division.
Each of the states above has its own set of rules and regulations for keeping a raccoon as a pet, so it’s best to consult with your local government first. Keep in mind that you may not be allowed to bring your pet raccoon across states because it could potentially infect other animals if they happen to have a disease.
How big can a raccoon get?
An adult male raccoon can weigh up to around 35 pounds. Meanwhile, adult female raccoons weigh slightly less than males. On record, the largest recorded weight for a raccoon is 50 pounds!
How to adopt a raccoon?
You must first find out if it is legal to adopt a raccoon in your state since it is illegal in some areas. If it is legal in your specific state, you may check with local government agencies regarding the process involved in adopting a raccoon.
Do cats and raccoons get along?
Cats and raccoons may get along. However, when there’s food involved, raccoons may intimidate or steal a cat’s food, or worse, attack or bite the cat.
Raccoons are fascinating creatures that have adapted to the urban environment. However, unlike dogs and cats, raccoons are not known to be domesticated animals yet. Because of this, it is not advised to keep them as pets. However, some states allow keeping raccoons as pets (with certain requirements).
If you are thinking of adopting a raccoon as a pet, it is very important to be prepared and aware of the raccoons’ behavior and their needs, as well as the dedication involved in taking care of a raccoon in captivity.
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