Exotic Pet Wonderland

Answering Your Pet Raccoon Questions

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pet raccoon on a black and white rug mischievously pulling the tail of an elderly orange and white parti Pomeranian laying on a plush dog bed

Answering Your Pet Raccoon Questions

For an animal so many people seem to be interested in keeping as a pet, there is unfortunately a lack of good, honest information out there about what it is like to keep a pet raccoon. At Exotic Pet Wonderland, educating about the realities of owning captive bred wildlife and their care is just as important as the work we do providing homes for the pets their owners can no longer care for. With that in mind, let’s jump into answering some of the most commonly asked questions regarding pet raccoons on google! 

Do pet raccoons get mean? 

Most of them do, yes. It is important to remember that even though your pet raccoon was born in captivity, it is not a domesticated animal. Raccoons are not genetically predisposed to be good pets like dogs and cats are, and still have all of their natural instincts. However, there are steps you can take to reduce aggression in your pet raccoon. First, getting your pet raccoon from a breeder that breeds for temperament rather than quantity will help. Second, making sure you get your raccoon at an early age and properly socialize them is a must. Raccoons are incredibly smart, and can be trained similar to cats. (I recommend looking into clicker training!) Finally, you need to get your pet raccoon spayed or neutered. You are going to notice a sharp turn in your pet raccoon’s behavior when the animal hits puberty, and it is not going to be pleasant. Even with all of these things in mind, however, it is important to realize that some raccoons will still grow up to be aggressive animals. You can do everything right and still end up with an aggressive animal. It is important for you, the person deciding to get a pet raccoon, to be prepared for this possibility and still be willing to make up to a 20 year commitment to your animal. 

a photo of a pet raccoon peacefully sleeping on his back at an exotic pet sanctuary in tennessee

                                                                                  This is Ralph. He scares me.

Do pet raccoons stink?
Not really, no. Especially when compared to pet foxes, which have an incredibly strong oder. Just remember to clean their litter box!

 

Do pet raccoons have rabies? 

This question is similar to asking your friend if their dog or cat has rabies. Unless it is unvaccinated and was bit by a rabid animal, the answer is no. Your pet raccoon can get a rabies shot, and should. Rabies is one reason why taking raccoons from the wild without being a licensed wildlife rehabilitator is illegal. Your captive bred pet raccoon, however, isn’t a rabies risk. 

 

Do pet raccoons get along with cats? Do pet raccoons get along with dogs?

This is very much an “it depends” kind of question. Some do and some don’t, depending on their level of socialization. I felt comfortable leaving my pet raccoon running loose around my cats until she was about 7 months, but now I only let her around them when I can be there to supervise. Raccoons can get pretty big, and my cat is quite small. Even though my pet raccoon might not mean any harm and just wants to pet my cat’s fur, she could still injure my kitty by accident. Exotic Pet Wonderland’s director allows many of the raccoons that live indoors to interact with her large dogs, but the dogs have grown up around raccoons and know how to behave, and none of the raccoons are known to be a risk to other animals. So whether a raccoon will get along well with cats and dogs all depends upon the animals temperament, if they are supervised, and how big the animals are. If you choose to allow different species to interact, it is important you make sure each animal has its own safe place to be alone. 

     Now, as I said before, different species smell different. If you’re really concerned with smell, you might want to look into a species like gray foxes. Grey foxes don’t smell near as much or as bad, generally litter train, and are just overall easier to keep indoors. Our gray uses her litterbox very well, and has very little odor compared to all of our other smelly sweethearts. If you are determined to have one of the smellier species in your life, there are ways to help you deal with it.

pet raccoon on a black and white rug mischievously pulling the tail of an elderly orange and white parti Pomeranian laying on a plush dog bed

Do pet raccoons use litter boxes? 

Yes! This is probably one of the biggest things pet raccoons have going for them. Unlike pet foxes, raccoons can use litter boxes! It can be a bit hard to train a raccoon to use a litterbox at first, but once they get the idea, they are really good about it! 

Do pet raccoons hibernate? 

Nope! And wild raccoons don’t hibernate either. Pet raccoons do go into something called “torpor” however. So, what is torpor? Torpor is when an animal’s heart rate and breathing slow down, more so than it normally does when the animal is sleeping, in order to conserve energy. Animals enter torpor in the winter when the cold weather makes it harder to find food. As I mentioned earlier, pet raccoons still have all of their wild instincts. Even though they may not need to enter torpor like wild raccoons do, their bodies don’t know that! So if your raccoon is extra sleepy in the winter, this is why!

Do pet raccoons bite?

Yes. Pet raccoons bite, and they bite HARD. Even the nicest raccoon will get into a spicy mood on occasion, and you need to be ready. If you are not someone who is comfortable with being bitten, a raccoon is not the pet for you. 

A photo of an arm with a green question mark riddler tattoo on the wrist with a large, bleeding animal bite from a pet raccoon

If you have any questions about pet raccoon ownership or care that were not answered here,

please feel free to reach out to me at Nessie@exoticpetwonderland.org

 

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