Hey wildlife enthusiasts! Have you ever wondered what those curious "trash pandas" are really eating when they rummage through your garbage? Before raccoons became suburban scavengers, they had a rich and varied diet in the wild.

In this article, we'll explore what raccoons naturally eat and how their diet has adapted to urban environments, with insights from experts like the late Dr. William Hamilton and Dr. Stanley Gehrt.

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  1. Do Raccoons Eat Meat
  2. Do Raccoons Eat Fish
  3. Do Raccoons Eat Fruits and Vegetables
  4. Can Raccoons Eat Chocolate
  5. What Do Raccoons Eat in the Wild
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

Do Raccoons Eat Meat

Raccoons are incredibly adaptable animals with a diet that includes both plant and animal matter, making them true omnivores. But do raccoons eat meat? Absolutely! Their natural diet consists of various sources of protein, crucial for their survival and health.

In the wild, raccoons consume a variety of meat sources. According to Dr. William Hamilton, fish, frogs, crayfish, insects, and small mammals are among the staple foods of raccoons. His extensive research found that crayfish, in particular, make up a significant portion of their diet during the summer months. This protein-rich diet is essential for their energy needs and overall well-being.

However, raccoons are not picky eaters. In urban areas (like many of our backyards), they often expand their diet to include whatever they can find. This includes rummaging through trash cans and dumpsters for scraps of human food.
Dr. Stanley Gehrt notes, "In Chicago, 26% of homeowners consider raccoons to be a 'nuisance,'" pointing out that public parks with open trash cans become foraging grounds for these opportunistic feeders.

Common search queries like "do raccoons eat cats" and "do raccoons eat chickens" reflect concerns about raccoons preying on pets or livestock. While raccoons are capable hunters, studies show they typically prefer smaller, easier prey like insects, mice, and the occasional bird.

So, your cats should be safe from raccoons, but you may want to keep anything small, like a pet bird or a gerbil well out of reach. Personally, I’d keep any newborn kittens out of their reach just in case. Of course, they will eat any meat scraps you leave in your dumpster if they can reach it.

Nonetheless, they have been known to attack chickens and rabbits, especially when these animals are left unprotected.

Interestingly, baby raccoons have a slightly different diet. They rely on their mother’s milk initially, but as they grow, they start eating a mix of fruits, insects, and small animals, learning to forage from their mother.

To monitor raccoon activity in your backyard, consider using the Petcube Cam. This advanced camera not only helps you keep an eye on your pets but also provides valuable insights into the nocturnal habits of raccoons and other wildlife, ensuring your yard stays safe and secure.

Do Raccoons Eat Fish

Yes, raccoons do eat fish! Fish is a big part of their diet, especially for those living near water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and marshes. Raccoons are skilled hunters and foragers, using their dexterous front paws to catch fish and other aquatic prey.

Research highlights that fish, along with crayfish and frogs, constitutes a considerable portion of the raccoon's diet in the wild. Raccoons often hunt for fish in shallow waters, feeling for their prey with their sensitive front paws. This method is highly effective and allows raccoons to catch a variety of fish, depending on what is available in their habitat.

Interestingly, raccoons have a unique behavior of “washing” or dunking their food in water before eating it. This is why in many languages, like German, they are called “waschbären” which means “wash bears.” We don’t really know why they are doing this.

But experts believe it isn’t because they are cleaning, they are food, which is what it looks like. It’s actually because when their paws are wet, they are more sensitive. So by wetting their paws, they get more tactile (touch) information about the food they are holding. Cool, huh?

In suburban areas, raccoons might also raid backyard ponds for fish. Homeowners with koi ponds or other fish ponds may find their aquatic pets at risk. If you have such features in your yard, using the Petcube Cam can help you monitor any raccoon activity and take preventative measures to protect your fish.

Do Raccoons Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Raccoons have a diverse diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In the wild, these foods provide essential nutrients and help balance their diet. Dr. William Hamilton’s research highlights that fruits and berries, such as wild grapes, cherries, and apples, make up a significant part of a raccoon’s diet.

Raccoons are known to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including:


Frequently found in the stomachs of wild raccoons, apples are a common food source. Raccoons often eat them in the frozen state during winter when other food is scarce.


These are also part of a raccoon's diet. Gardeners often find raccoons raiding their tomato plants.


While not a natural part of their diet, raccoons can eat bananas when available. They typically find these in open trash cans.


Any root vegetables like carrots are another vegetable raccoons will eat, especially if they come across them in gardens or as leftovers.


Raccoons are known to eat pumpkins, especially during the fall when these vegetables are abundant. Afterall, the seeds are a great source of magnesium and the fiber is great for their tummies. Leaving pumpkins out after halloween is sure to draw any local raccoons.

Additionally, raccoons eat various plants and flowers, sometimes to the dismay of gardeners. They are known to munch on flowers and other plants they come across in their foraging activities.

However, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for raccoons. Just like dogs, raccoons can be poisoned by certain foods, including raisins, alliums (onions, garlic, chives), as well as coffee and avocados. It's essential to be aware of these toxic foods to avoid inadvertently harming these creatures if they frequent your yard.

To keep an eye on raccoons and other wildlife visiting your garden, the Petcube Cam is an excellent tool. This camera helps monitor their activity and ensures that your garden remains safe and secure, providing peace of mind for you and a better understanding of the nocturnal visitors to your yard.

Can Raccoons Eat Chocolate

Just like dogs, raccoons can be poisoned by chocolate. The theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are toxic to raccoons and can cause serious health issues, including seizures, heart problems, and even death.

It's essential to ensure that raccoons do not have access to chocolate or any foods containing cocoa. If you have raccoons frequenting your yard, be mindful of what leftovers or food scraps are left outside, as raccoons are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything they can find.

To monitor and manage what raccoons might be getting into, using a Petcube Cam can be incredibly helpful. This camera provides real-time monitoring, allowing you to keep an eye on any wildlife activity in your yard, ensuring that raccoons do not consume harmful substances.

What Do Raccoons Eat in the Wild

In the wild, raccoons are opportunistic feeders with a diverse diet that varies depending on the availability of food and the season. Their adaptability allows them to thrive in various environments, from dense forests to wetland.

Raccoons have a broad diet that includes:

Small Mammals

Raccoons are known to eat small mammals such as mice, rats, and squirrels. These animals provide a significant source of protein. For instance, research shows that raccoons do eat rats and mice, which are readily available in many environments.

Birds and Eggs

Raccoons will also prey on birds and their eggs. They are adept climbers, allowing them to raid nests for baby birds and eggs, providing essential nutrients.


Various insects, including crickets and beetles, are common in their diet. This is like candy for the babies!

Reptiles and Amphibians

Frogs and small snakes are also part of a raccoon's diet. Raccoons have been observed catching and eating frogs from ponds and streams, and they will also hunt snakes in the wild, adding variety to their protein intake.

Fish and Aquatic Animals

Raccoons often forage along the edges of water bodies, where they catch fish, crayfish, and even turtles. Their human-like front paws are well-suited for catching these slippery prey.


Insects like crickets, beetles, and caterpillars form an essential part of their diet, especially during the summer months when these are abundant.

Plants, Fruits, and Nuts

Wild raccoons consume a variety of fruits, berries, and nuts like beachnuts and acorns. These foods are particularly important in the fall when they help raccoons build up fat reserves for the winter. They also eat grains like corn and oats.

While not a major part of their diet, raccoons do consume grasses and other plant material, which can be important during times when other food sources are scarce.


We all know raccoons are not above scavenging. They will eat dead animals when they find them, providing an easy and rich source of nutrients.

Despite their varied diet, raccoons in urban areas have been known to adapt their feeding habits significantly. Dr. Stanley Gehrt notes that raccoons in cities often forage in trash cans and dumpsters, consuming human food waste. This includes a wide range of leftovers, from meat scraps to bread and fruits, demonstrating their incredible adaptability.


What Do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons are omnivores and have a varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, small mammals, insects, fish, and even garbage in urban areas. In the wild, they eat crayfish, frogs, berries, nuts, and more, adapting their diet to the available resources.

What Do Raccoons Like to Eat?

Raccoons particularly enjoy grains, fruits and nuts, such as corn, apples, cherries, and beechnuts. They are also fond of crayfish, fish, and insects. In the suburbs, they are often found scavenging through trash cans for leftover human food.

What Can Raccoons Not Eat?

Raccoons should not eat chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic, chives, cocoa, coffee, or avocados as these foods can be toxic to them. It’s important to avoid leaving these foods accessible to raccoons to prevent poisoning.


Raccoons are highly adaptable creatures with a diverse diet that changes based on their environment and food availability. By understanding their natural eating habits, we can better coexist with these clever animals, ensuring both their safety and ours. Using tools like the Petcube Cam can help monitor their activities and keep our yards secure.

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