Raccoons look like cute little teddy bears, but they're full of mischief and mayham. So how is a day to day life with a raccoon, and is it something you may be interested in?
Like foxes, before you even sit down to think about trying to share your life with a raccoon, there are some legalities you need to consider. Raccoons aren't legal everywhere, and most of the time, catching a raccoon in the wild to keep as a pet is always illegal. Checking with your state, city and county is highly reccommended before you think about owning one of these guys. AND IF YOU FIND AN ABANDONED RACCOON, PLEASE FIND A REHABBER NEAR YOU, DO NOT TRY AND KEEP A WILD BORN RACCOON AS A PET. Animal Help Now is a great app to have on your phone in case of finding wildlife in need.
Once you know whether they are legal in your state, it's important to know what it's like to live with raccoons. Raccoons are extremely intelligent animals and must be treated as such. They are also very stubborn, and can be a bit moody as well. It's almost like living with a very well armed, perpetually needy toddler. They enjoy being center of attention, so they aren't really happy just locked away and played with as you wish, however, sometimes they do enjoy having time to themselves. Learning to live with them involves giving up some control and learning creative ways to convince them to do things you want, along with childproofing everything to the extreme.
Where do you house your Raccoon?
Keeping such a smart, curious animal busy and entertained isn't easy, but some fun ideas for raccoon enrichment are:
smart feeder toys for dogs and cats
puzzle toys made for dogs
home made busy boards
a water fountain
climbing structures such as cat trees
large bird toys and
A couple pictures of our indoor set up, we're adding new things as we speak
Raccoons are perfect omnivores, and thus need a very specific diet. They are also prone to obesity which can cause several health issues including diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems, so keeping a close eye on their portions is required, along with limiting treats and sugary foods.
We feed a diet that is around 2/3 meat, eggs, and insects and 1/3 fruits, veggies, plant matter, and nuts. They only get lean meats such as poultry, rabbit, and fish with eggs occasionally. As for insects, feeder insects such as crickets, dubias, and meal worms are great for them, but not all raccoons will eat them. Veggie, fruit, and nut wise is easy, as they can eat most fruits, veggies, and nuts. Our favorites seem to be, chicken, eggs, sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumbers, roses, crape myrtle petals, chestnuts, and walnuts. They can also eat a low fat, low protien dog kibble, and we will occasionally use that as a treat. Because raccoons vary in size and weight some, we don't measure out their food too much, but we keep them at a good weight by watching their weight and adjusting intake depending on that. As far as a list of dangerous foods go, there isn't a ton of info, however, high calorie, high sodium, and high sugar foods should be avoided, and catfood is also very bad for them and can cause kidney issues.
Raccoon rooms and enclosures can be fun to design as raccoons are curious and love to climb and explore. Some basic rules do apply though. I recommend changing your walls in your raccoon room to paneling or something stronger than sheetrock as they'll pick at sheetrock until they've torn holes in the wall.
Also, while they are litter trainable, I still wouldn't use carpet, as they will pick at it and possibly even get their nails hung. Since they do love to be with their humans so much, baby-proofing your entire house is ideal-especially cabinets and toilets. Then, if needed, when you can't be around to watch, giving them a safe room or even possibly an outdoor enclosure is best. A raccoon room or enclosure can be a fun place to give them lots of enrichment too, such as building them climbing structures, hanging swings or other toys, and even giving a pond or wheel. Keep in mind though variety is key, so switching out toys from time to time will keep them from becoming bored and destructive. Since raccoons generally litter train pretty easy, having a litterbox in several rooms that they have access too is also needed, but keep in mind they shouldn't have regular cat litter, as it hurts their sensitive paws and can cause an impaction if they eat it while cleaning themselves. Better alternatives to cat litter are corn cob bedding and pine pellet horse bedding.
Vet Care for Raccoons
Raccoons need very specific vet care, and are usually a lot for a vet to handle, so finding a vet who is well versed in raccoon medicine is crucial. One of the most important basic things raccoons will need from a vet are vaccines. Raccoons cannot handle a live or modified live vaccine, so all their vaccines must be killed. Also, there are a lot of things that racoons can get both dog and cat versions of, so they need extra vaccines.
The main vaccines needed for raccoons are- Feline Panleukopenia(distemper for cats), Canine Distemper, Raccoon Parvovirus, and Rabies.
Another very important thing to watch out for, is raccoon worms.Raccoons need wormed frequently as well, and can get Roundworms, Hookworms, and Tapeworms. Raccoon roundworms are actually transferable to humans and can be very dangerous, so keeping them healthy and safe is a must not only for them, but also for you. As for fleas, raccoons can get fleas, but can't have dog flea preventives, so revolution(not plus, just the origional) is needed to keep them flea free. Capstar is also safe to get rid of an infestation of fleas.
Raccoons also get quite moody if left intact once they are an adult, so spaying and neutering is recommended.