Ring-tailed Raccoon, Racoon

Family: Procyonidae Raccoon Picture: quot;Rufus"Raccoon "Rufus"Procyon lotor
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I had two pet Raccoon that were brother and sister from 5 weeks to 8 months they were inseparable well my Gretle was bit by a rattlesnake but lived then about a... (more)  Jadajae512

   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

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Procyonidae
  • Genus: Procyon
  • Species: lotor

Scientific name:

Procyon lotor
Common North American Raccoon


   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.


   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.


   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.


   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.


   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.


   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

Jadajae512 - 2017-10-23
I had two pet Raccoon that were brother and sister from 5 weeks to 8 months they were inseparable well my Gretle was bit by a rattlesnake but lived then about a month later she went missing we finally found her and she had passed away my poor Hansle was so heartbroken so I played with him more so he wouldn't feel lonely well came home one day and he was gone he's been gone for about 2 weeks now and just now I walked out and heard something it was him eating the good I had been leaving out every day hoping he would come home but now he doesn't remember me and he's scared what do.i do

  • ruthie - 2019-10-10
    Maybe he was looking for a replacement companion. Raccoons like other raccoons & will seek out buddies etc, which he didn't have a need to go out of his way to do before because he always had his bub
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
  • Joshua Alderson McDonald - 2018-09-10
    Ours has went outside stayed few days, but always ends up coming home . Keep cage open with feed. She will return .
  • ruthie - 2019-10-10
    Oh no :( I am so sorry! Did she come back home? I was wondering if you had coyotes in the area, they are becoming more urban & people often have no odea they're prowling their neighborhood at night... Maybe she was mating. At her age, and it being November (?) when you wrote this.
Mary - 2019-09-05
I have a 14 year old female raccoon who is definitely part of the family. She has never been caged and liv s very well with our small dog and cat. Litter trained and does not go outside as I worry about her contracting disease. She has never been sick.
That being said though she has low quite a bit of wait this summer. She is still eating well and is healthy on her wise from what I can see.
Any thoughts on the weight loss? Is it due to old age?

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.
  • Joshua Alderson McDonald - 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?
  • Misty - 2018-11-19
    Boy you hit the nail on the head.my little Funky Bunky is just as you described He's one of the family for sure .well our dog would say different if he could .lol.you sure are right about never going on vacation.my mom used to watch Bunky for us but he would cry and try to open the door to go with me .so after 45 minutes of that my mom called and said never again that it was heart breaking to watch him like that.so now he just goes with me or my old man stays home with him .thank you for sharing your story.
  • Kimber\'ly Conder - 2019-08-29
    This post is the most accurate I've ever read, lol
  • tammi cross - 2019-04-03
    I have a 4 1/2 yo male raccoon , and yes , they have been known to return , after " getting out " . On another story , I also know of a family who lost their " pet " , once he was able to get free . ( i also hesitate to use the term " pet " , because he is so much more to me than that term implies ! I believe that the care you give determines the outcome of such a situation . I live out by a lake ( very rural , is what I mean ! ) and my sweetheart was gone 3 days ! I never gave up on finding him , though , and he just came strolling through the front door , one evening , like he " owns the place " . ( which , if how much he is adored were to be any indicator , he DOES ! LOL ! )
    I have NEVER " caged " him , nor have i EVER " mistreated " ( yelled at , struck .. etc . ) him . He is actually VERY well - behaved ; he uses his litter box , and has NEVER bitten ME . However , he HAS attacked 2 other people whom are NOT a member of his family . I am just trying to convey that they seem to respond directly to HOW THEY ARE TREATED , MUCH LIKE ANY OTHER LIVING CREATURE ! The mistake , I believe , that is most commonly made is most people's desire to have a " pet " raccoon based on the " cool " factor . They seem to be more interested in being able to say " I have a pet raccoon " , than actually TAKING CARE OF said raccoon ! I can almost guarantee that ANYTIME you take this inquisitive and intelligent animal and put him in a CAGE ~ ONLY TO BE TAKEN OUT TO " SHOW OFF " ~ THAT RACCOON IS GOING TO RESENT YOU , AND PROBABLY WILL NOT BE A GOOD COMPANION ! The people whom claim to be the exceptions to the rule , regarding owning this " wild " animal , are probably the ones who understand the amount of ENERGY required to STIMULATE , and therefore KEEP HAPPY , such a " high maintenance " little family member requires ! Unfortunately , it's also been my experience that the motivating factor for the majority of these people is NOT the health of the animal ! If everyone would spend the time needed for the happy and healthy developement of a " pet " raccoon , it WOULD certainly promote more wide spread acceptance of these awesome animals - which could only be GOOD for both THEM , and US ! HE CERTAINLY BRINGS MUCH TO OUR LIVES . Thanks for reading .
henslyhans - 2018-04-24
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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.
Joshua Alderson McDonald - 2017-09-28
Where can I buy a pet raccoon?i live in fl

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?