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"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."
"J"

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