Raccoon

Ring-tailed Raccoon, Racoon

Family: Procyonidae Raccoon Picture: quot;Rufus"Raccoon "Rufus"Procyon lotor
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I have had Raccoons as "pets". I use the word pet loosely, because there were more like members of the family. I agree that 99% of people who want a pet raccoon... (more)  Belinda

   Here is a raccoon up past his bedtime! This younster couldn't keep still, climbed all over everybody and was constantly "checking things out"!

   Racoons are a pet that requires a lot of attention (to keep them out of trouble?), but if given the right environment are lots of fun to keep. They are extremely smart, active, and curious animals. Please read some of the reader comments to get an idea of what problems can be encountered before considering taking on a raccoon as a pet!

   Since wild raccoons have adapted to suburban and urban environments, they are considered a pest by many people. Most states have regulations concerning ownership of racoons so check to make sure you meet all the requirements before you seek one out.

For information about Small Animals and their care visit:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Small Animal


Geographic Distribution
Procyon lotor
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Procyonidae
  • Genus: Procyon
  • Species: lotor
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Scientific name:

Procyon lotor
Common North American Raccoon

Background:


   Raccoons range throughout the United States, actually they range from southern Canada to the Panama. They are fond of areas near water in piney forests and broadleaf woodlands.

Description:

   The raccoon is a medium sized mammal about the size of a small to medium sized dog. They will grow to about 30 inches long including a bushy 10 inch long tail, and will reach 25-45 lbs. as adults. They have a long pointy snout, large eyes and ears, five digits on each foot and a ringed tail.
   The name 'Ring-tailed Raccoon' describes them by one of their very distinctive markings, a ringed tail. They are also recognized by their familiar black ‘mask’, giving this wily animal an almost comical look. Their course fur is a mixture of gray, brown, and black.

Environment:

   In the wild, the the raccoon will have a den built in a hollow tree. Usually an outdoor area at least 4'x4' with a source of running water is needed. If kept in the house they are readily box trained and are similar to keeping a cat or dog except you will probably have to put childproof latches on your cupboards and drawers!

Care and feeding:

   Provide lots of water (if not running water) every day as they have a curious habit of washing their food before they eat it. Raccoons are omnivorous. In nature they eat various small animals, fish, frogs. molluscs, and fruits.
   In captivity, most people feed them a ferret diet, cat food, and table scraps (they will eat just about anything). See about foods for ferrets here. Besides offering them their natural diet they will also eat vegetables, crayfish, crabs, insects, and they love eggs.

Social Behaviors:

   In their natural habitat they do not exhibit aggressive behavior, but males will defend territories. They are generally solitary animals except during breeding season. We have found no information on keeping several raccoons together so we assume that unless you are keeping a family, it is probably best to keep individuals separate in captivity.

Dr. Jungle says...."these guys are packed full of energy!"
Raccoon Pictures of "Rufus" and "Dufus"
Photo @ Animal-World
Courtesy David Brough

"Rufus" and "Dufus"

   These two young racoons, Rufus and Dufus, are both males and are 5 months old in these photos. They are about 15 lbs. now but will reach 25-45 lbs. as adults.

   As babies they were bottle fed with a puppy feeding formula - Esbilac, and powdered goats' milk. Weaning began at 8 weeks and took 2 weeks to complete. Science diet cat food blended to a pudding-like consistency was also used.

 

Handling and Training:


   The cunning Raccoon is easily tamed, and makes a pleasant 'monkey-like' pet. It should be noted however, that though young raccoons make entertaining pets, many become surly, rough and even vicious as they approach sexual maturity.

Activities - Exercise and Play:


   Raccoons are nocturnal, but are sometimes active during the day. They are a mammal that is known for their inquisitiveness. Besides being very curious and active, they are expert climbers. They will thoroughly enjoy some excercise time where they can explore in areas that are both high and low.

   Make sure that your raccoon's designated play areas are properly "raccoon-proofed", not only to prevent damage to the area but to reduce the chances of him injuring himself during play.

Breeding/Reproduction:

   Raccoons' breeding season is from late winter through early spring. Females give birth from April to June and have an average litter of three or four babies. The pups remain in their birth den until they are about seven weeks old, at which point the mother moves them to a series of alternate dens.
   In some parts of the country, young raccoons spend their first winter with their mothers, but it is just as common for them to leave the mother in the late fall of their first year.

Ailments/Treatments:


   As with all animals, raccoons can become ill or hurt. You can do your best to avoid this by taking good care of your pet. Make sure he gets proper nutrition, grooming, and exercise. This will keep your raccoon in the best of conditions and reduce the chances of him getting sick.
I   f your raccoon endures serious injuries such as back injuries, severe bleeding, broken bones, or poisoning, it should be taken to a veterinarian.

Availability:

   Most states have regulations concerning ownership of raccoons so check to make sure you meet all the requirements before you seek one out, your pet store can help you with this.
   Be sure to check your state and local restrictions before acquiring a raccoon.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Pet Racoon


Belinda - 2007-06-29
I have had Raccoons as "pets". I use the word pet loosely, because there were more like members of the family. I agree that 99% of people who want a pet raccoon will probably not be able to properly take care of them. They are so very precious when they are babies, but like everything else, they grow up. I kept my coonies inside and they had full run of the house. They were never caged and were allowed to go in and out at will. They chose to stay inside most of the time and I have never had one that went out and did not come back. They used a litter box that was filled with water instead of litter. I simply dumped out the dirty water once or twice a day and as long as the water was kept relatively clean, they never used the potty anywhere else except the box. They are extremely curious and those little "hands" are constantly feeling of everything around them. I get the biggest kick in the world out of them and would take in another in a NY second, but I know what to expect and know that I can handle it. They are as destructive and mischieveious as they are cute. They can get into anything, anywhere. I had childproof locks on EVERY SINGLE CABINET IN MY HOUSE! They can open medicine bottles, the refrigerator (nothing like coming downstairs in the middle of the night to see what the noise is only to find a raccoon sitting in the fridge, eating what looked good and tossing the rest onto the kitchen floor), they will unplug your clocks, tv's ect., break your trinkets and whatnots, hide your keys, chew the buttons off your cell phone, and yes...they DO and WILL BITE. They have very sharp claws and teeth and can inflict damage even when not meaning to. They (at least mine did) become very territorial towards their house and their family. You must put them behind closed doors before letting company inside. Mine would not tolerate the presence of anyone that did not live in the house. If a thief had ever broken into the house, he/she would have been easy to find later. If they managed to get out of the house, you could just check the local ER for a shredded person! So...if you are super patient, don't mind replacing material possessions, can take pain from bites and scratches, have adequate space, never go on vacation, have excellent homeowners insurance, rarely have company and if you have the proper paperwork/licenses to keep one, go ahead. But please please! Be sure you can take care of it FOREVER or provide for it in case you are unable to.

  • Gunner\'s Mom - 2013-05-07
    You nailed it. I have had mine for two years. We bought him from a breeder, as a baby. He is fixed & vaccinated. He is my son. You are absolutely correct. I talk a lot of people out of the idea because it takes a rare, certain person to be a Forever Mom. If an owner were to decide they don't want the pet anymore, chances are this beautiful animal would wind up being put down at some point, as they don't like serious change. Therefore, one must make a life long commitment to this pet. I am fortunate Gunner has myself & his daddy, otherwise, there would be no vacation for me. Only one of us goes at a time..the other remains home with him. As far as his minor mood swings (like any person has), he has learned my stern voice, 'don't you bite me.' I do want to point out that tbe column above is incorrect, which I am sure you noticed too... For those unaware, DO NOT FEED RACCOONS CAT FOOD OR TABLE SCRAPS!!!!! A good quality DOG food & HEALTHY people food (as snacks). Nothing pertaining to tomatoes, onions, garlic, CHOCOLATE....cat food will eventually harm & kill internal organs, chocolate can kill immediately, & the other at the least will cause major tummy trouble. I feed mine Iams weight control dog food, celery, frozen green beans (awesome snack!), & fresh spinach leaves. Respect your baby, & he/she will show you respect & love in return :-)
  • David Darkstone - 2016-06-03
    You people are the worst kind of people, you think you are doing a good thing by discouraging people from having pet raccoons but yet you say you are special that's why you can have one, that's a load of b.s .its people like you that cause the laws to be so harsh towards raccoons and raccoon ownership, you people should encourage others so the more people have them and see how possible it is to have one the laws can start to change but instead you choose your ego and tell everyone how horrible they are yet you are special you can have one not because they are good but because you are special and have animal bonding abilities, you people are sick. If you really cared and loved these animals you would care about their kind and spread a positive message about them instead of feeding your egotistical needs.
  • Anonymous - 2017-07-05
    How do you get your raccoon to not bite so much shes 11 weeks old..where cdid you get yours fixed at no one will even look at our raccoon around here..?
  • Vonnir - 2018-03-05
    I have a pet raccoon I did not know cat food was dangerous for her I started giving her Purina cat treats she loves them but now she is developing bald patches and scratching there is nothing like fleas etc on her don't know what to do she's 9 months old and the joy of our lives. Have stopped cat food she is very picky eater can you give me some advice. She loves cashew nuts and peas in the pod . Am desperate and heartbroken.thanks
  • JIll Kutchka - 2018-10-19
    This is the best description of a raccoon I have ever read!!!! I adore people like you!

    Have you ever had one get out and if so did it come home?
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Kim Pringle - 2013-07-11
I had a lil raccoon, and she is the sweetest thing on earth, her mom was shot and I took her in and raised her, then my husband built her a big house outside so she could play and have her own place when she no longer wanted to stay in the house. One day three days ago, I was cleaning her outside house and did not lock the back door, when I went out to check on her like always, she had got out the door and has not returned home. My question is will she come home and will she be ok out there? She is 15 months old. Please give me some good news. I have cried so much my eyes are swollen:(

  • Jasmine Brough Hinesley - 2013-07-12
    I would think that your raccoon will be just fine on its own, they are wild by nature. I'm sure you are sad though, I'm so sorry :( Keep an eye out for her because she may turn up, especially because she feels comfortable in the home she grew up in.
  • mary hicks - 2013-12-28
    she may come back and may not but she should be ok.
  • aimee - 2016-01-26
    I feel your pain we raised ours for 1year he went outside as ever day and hasn't returned we have cried our eyes out for our baby I have same question will he return home
  • Anonymous - 2018-09-10
    Ours has went outside stayed few days, but always ends up coming home . Keep cage open with feed. She will return .
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J - 2006-09-26
I am a licensed rehabber in Calif. Raccoons are by far my favorites. They are cute, affectionate & very endearing. I would love to keep them all but I know that isn't the best for them. I have been trying to get permission for an educational raccoon for our group so have done a great deal of homework & have decided I will be chosing another mammal. Raccoons are social, they bond quickly to the caregiver (they miss "mom"). They are insecure as babies, but as they age, they become more independent. With that, the adorable playfulness & curiosity becomes more aggressive & destructive (this is their nature & what they need for surviving in the wild). Their teeth are sharp & so are those claws! I wear shabby Levis just for them climbimg my legs - which is "painfully cute" when they are little. I watch in fascination & photograph them for hours. At around two they become unpredictable in their behavior. They do like things on their terms afterall, & have displayed aggressive behavior when least expected so most rehab facilities will not use raccoons due to liability. If one bites, it is destroyed to check that it is free of rabies. This has happened to people who just had them as pets & family or friends have been bitten. To have a pet euthanized due to old age or infirmity is heartwrenching enough - it would be unbearable to have an animal I took out of its elements destroyed in its prime when it wasn't necessary. Neutering does not stop all aggression, males are normally less agressive than the females in captivity. Things I am personally aware of have been: 1) pet raccoons will kill other small pets up to small bunnies, including birds, 2) help themselves to fish in tanks & koi ponds, 3) jump on the back of a dog & ride it when really angry, act out against their caregivers, etc. & 4) can demolish & destroy the inside of a home in no time. There are exceptions, of course. Caging or tethering them would break their spirit - they are nature's clowns who never stop exploring...besides, they only get meaner. I am grateful to ALL who try & save them. They do need special formula & diets that aid in their development. People food is not what they get in the wild as babies. Like any species, they need the proper nutrients just for them. If you are going to keep one, at least contact a rehabber who will help you out & get you the right information. Rehab centers are full of adult raccoons that people have tried to raise & don't want anymore & they can't be placed. When weaned, my raccoons go to another rehabber with a state regulated cage to grow bigger & "wild up" before being released. I cry while driving them there, I cry when I leave & when it comes time to release them I will be crying again. I know it's best but they really get into your heart - any hand raised orphan will be imprinted & it is very important that if they are going to be released they go to a rehabber that can try & get them back to the wild in a way that they will have a chance to survive & live their lives out as they were put on this earth to do.

  • Amy - 2018-07-11
    Here in Missouri, it is illegal to possess one. But how can anybody with a heart ignore a baby laying on a pile of asphalt on a hot summer's day, dehydrated and near death? We can't and we did not. Raised my little hellfire and have no regrets. Someday, she might want to leave but right now, she has run of my house and I am mommy. Someday, when she decides to leave, i will be sobbing like there is no tomorrow. I thought about being a wildlife rehabber but dont think my heart can take the separations. Good luck and God bless your awesome soul.
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henslyhans - 2018-04-24
Capuchin monkeys available for rehoming Text us at (516) 200-8707 Adorable Capuchin monkeys ready for new loving homes. All vaccinated and vet checked and come with health papers. They are 14 weeks old. Home raised and very social. They are on diapers and bottled fed. Both male and female available and very affordable. contact at (516) 200-8707 .Email us at km396929@gmail.com

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henslyhans - 2018-04-24
Capuchin monkeys available for rehoming Text us at (516) 200-8707 Adorable Capuchin monkeys ready for new loving homes. All vaccinated and vet checked and come with health papers. They are 14 weeks old. Home raised and very social. They are on diapers and bottled fed. Both male and female available and very affordable. contact at (516) 200-8707 .Email us at km396929@gmail.com

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Roman - 2017-06-20
I'm interested in purchasing a baby raccoon. I live in Chicago area. If you have any information, please reply to my email.

  • Ben Judy - 2017-09-03
    Raccoons are illegal as pets in Cook County (I live there too) and any vet that is found treating an illegal pet can have their license taken away. You probably can have one if you live outside of Cook County, but please double check the laws. If animal control finds out about an illegal pet, it will probably be euthanized and biopsied for rabies testing.
  • brenda - 2018-01-24
    I live in Canada & it is illegal to own a wild animal. ANY wild animal. However, a couple of stupid people saw 2 tiny baby raccoons in the back seat of an old car at an auction & thought the mother wasn't coming back and stole the babies. 100% sure she was hiding until everyone left. They should have at least waited 24 hours & checked from a distance if she returned. However, there are idiots born every second.

    Anyway, one of the kits came to me after the one person.could no longer have her because they lived in a municipality & I was on a farm. I loved this little raccoon to destruction. She was never in the house but locked in the barn unless I was there until ?5-6 months old. Then she had free rein. She lived on top of the hay bales & even though the house was not that far away, she never came there. I had her over the her 1st winter & would try & play with her everyday. We were very close. But late that next spring she disappeared. I was sick. I was hoping to start working on releasing her in a huge provincial park in the fall. She was beautiful whe she left, probably 40 pounds. She came back a month later, looked TERRIBLE & had probably lost half her weight. I think she had found a mate because she then made a "nest" so to speak in our Quonset & really didn't want much to do with anyone. I had 2 young Grandaughters & we were constantly at the barn as we had horses etc. I had to release her to a zoo. It broke my heart.

    PLEASE for the animals sake DO NOT GET a pet raccoon . They are adorable for about 8 months but then they become what nature intended them to be. Mine was not mean and nasty but might have become so if she had young.
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Anonymous - 2017-09-28
Where can I buy a pet raccoon?i live in fl

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William Boudreau - 2017-08-09
Need someone to take a2 day old.

  • Lisa Ullenbruch - 2017-08-13
    Did you find someone to take your newborn raccoon?
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