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Dealing With an Aggressive Pet Raccoon

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A photo of a formerly aggressive pet raccoon sitting on a tree branch climb in her enclosure

Dealing with an Aggressive Pet Raccoon

If you have a pet raccoon, or have mentioned getting one, you have probably heard something along the lines of “Oh! My grandad/cousin/sister’s best friend’s uncle had a pet raccoon! It was sweet when it was a baby, and then it grew up and got mean, so they got rid of it.” That always frustrates me, because I always end up finding out the pet owners didn’t actually try anything to fix the aggression before getting rid of their pet. Unfortunately, there aren’t many resources when it comes to dealing with pet raccoon aggression, so hopefully this article can fill that gap. 

So, if your pet raccoon is becoming (or already is) aggressive, what do you do? The first step is to figure out why, and then the second step is determining what to do about it.. Let’s do some trouble shooting for raccoon aggression…

Is your pet raccoon spayed or neutered? 

If not, get that done! Once raccoons hit puberty, they tend to get incredibly aggressive. By getting your pet raccoon spayed or neutered, the hormones causing that aggression are majorly cut down. 

Is your pet raccoon locked in a cage most of the day? 

Compared to other pets, raccoons need large enclosures. Ideally, they have the same amount of space as a human’s bedroom. If your raccoon spends most of the day locked in a cage smaller than this, they are likely to get aggressive. I have had people say “Oh! Well my raccoon only stays in its cage while I am at work and asleep!” and then go on to complain about aggression. 16 hours in a cage that is smaller than 8x10x8 is too much. Even overnight is too much, if your raccoon is on a nocturnal schedule. This causes anxiety in pet raccoons, which translates into aggression.

a photo of a formerly aggressive pet raccoon sitting on a tree climb in his enclosure
Arthur (pictured) was surrendered due to his aggression, but has since become much friendlier and loves spending time with his raccoon and human friends alike

Is your pet raccoon bored? 

Raccoons are one of the smartest animals on earth, and have intelligence compared to that of a toddler. Because of this intelligence, raccoons are prone to boredom, and a bored raccoon equals an angry raccoon. If you think your pet raccoon may be bored, try to get them some puzzle enrichment toys. Toys for large exotic birds, primates, and dogs are great options. 

Are you crossing your raccoon’s boundaries? 

Raccoons, like humans, have boundaries. But unlike (most) humans, raccoons are willing to tear you to pieces if you cross them. Pay close attention to your pet raccoon’s body language and the sounds it is making, your pet will tell you when it doesn’t like something. Some pet raccoons don’t like being held, some don’t like loud noises, and some don’t like it when you get near them while they are eating. Look for patterns when you notice they become aggressive, and listen to what your pet raccoon is trying to tell you. 

Have you been mean to your raccoon? 

You can’t really punish a raccoon. Unlike most animals, raccoons have been shown to be capable of resentment and revenge. If you spank, kick, scream at, withhold food from, or otherwise react angrily towards your pet raccoon, it will remember and grow resentful. If you have done this in the past, stop now and slowly work towards regaining your pet raccoon’s trust. 

In conclusion, raccoons are intelligent animals that often react violently when they are anxious, scared, or bored. Sometimes, there are pet raccoons who are naturally aggressive, and there is nothing that can be done about it. These cases are few and far between, however it is important to realize that by getting a pet raccoon, this is a possibility you are signing up for. If you truly feel your pet raccoon’s aggression is too much to handle, surrendering your raccoon is an option, but please know we are always here to answer questions and work to find a way you can keep your raccoon. Our contact form is always open, and education is our number one goal at Exotic Pet Wonderland.

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