Will Your Pet Raccoon Become Aggressive?
Our fully inclusive guide on the raccoon, and why it might not be a great idea to keep these creatures as pets.
Raccoons are pretty cute to look at, right? Personality – wise they can be quite friendly and playful too, much like a large ferret or puppy, once they’ve bonded with their favourite human. So why aren’t they commonly advisable to keep as pets?
Raccoons can also be mischievous, and extremely high maintenance to keep. A lot of them will even damage your home, should you keep them, and they can be difficult to tame. They’re also well known for biting.
Which begs the question, if you get a pet raccoon, will it become aggressive?
Read on for our fully inclusive guide on the raccoon, and why it might not be a good idea for a novice to keep them as a pet.
Raccoons – The Fact File
First up, we’re going to be going to be summing up a few facts on our furry little friends.
The Procyon Lotor.
As an adult, the raccoon will usually grow between 16 and 28 inches in length, and weigh somewhere between 7 to 20 pounds, on average.
Held in captivity, the average raccoon can live for as long as twenty years.
What is the Temperament and Behaviour of a Raccoon Like?
One of the first things we look at when assessing whether or not an animal is a suitable pet, is what their behaviours and temperament are like.
When it comes to raccoons, they are intelligent, with very good memories and problem – solving abilities. They are most active at night, making them nocturnal creatures – and even if they’re “trained” by humans or born into captivity, they’re renowned for keeping their wild traits.
If you are going to keep a raccoon as a pet, you need the space and means to do so. Raccoons do not do well in small rooms or cages, and need to be able to climb and explore in order to lead a happy and healthy life.
With them being intelligent and problem – solving creatures, they need to be stimulated. If they are not left with enough of their own toys – or even if they simply get bored of them – it’s likely they’re going to use their sharp teeth and claws in order to rip and tear through your house. They’re also good at breaking latches and secure locks, hence their nickname the “masked bandit” as well as their colouring giving them the appearance of wearing a mask.
Due to their intelligence, raccoons are able to learn their own names plus a few simple commands such as “sit” – much like dogs. You can even toilet train them to use a litter box like a cat. However, they are extremely stubborn about who they will obey the commands of.
As we have said, they can bond with their own humans, especially if they’re either born in captivity, or kept in it from an early age. They are cute, can be cuddly…and are extremely quick to bite, even the people they’ve bonded with if they’re scared or disturbed.
With them being predators in the wild, it’s also likely that they’ll attack small pets in your home.
What Would I Feed a Pet Raccoon?
Raccoons fall under the category of “omnivore”, which means they can survive eating both meat and plants – similarly to many humans. We would recommend offering the following foods to a raccoon:
o Dog Food.
And as a treat:
o Fatty foods.
They should also have access to clean water at all times, as any animal should. If you’re concerned about what to feed your pet raccoon, ask your vet to assess this based on their size, weight, age, etc.
One thing we will warn you, is that the raccoon is not an ideal dinner party guest. They are extremely messy eaters, and will go out of their way to dunk whatever it is they’re eating into their water prior to consuming it. With that in mind, you’ll want their water closely located to their food – and their food in an area which is easy to clear up.
The adults will usually require one morning meal, and one evening meal – but do follow any other advice from your vet.
A top tip for keeping them entertained, is putting their food / treats in toys / puzzles in order to keep them entertained and stimulate their mind!
Is it Really a Good Idea to Keep a Raccoon in my House?
Housing a raccoon can be difficult, due to many of the things we have already listed above.
Some raccoon owners will keep them in a large dog cage if they aren’t currently in the house and able to watch them – as we’ve explained, they need to be kept an eye on!
The issue with this, is that raccoons are too active – mentally and physically – to be simply left in a cage for hours on end, which makes working full time and having them as a pet, difficult.
Ideally, the majority of the time, they should be free to roam your house, play, and climb – which basically means if you want a raccoon, you need to learn to live in a raccoon – friendly environment.
They will happily climb on your shelves, chew on wires and cords, and you guessed it, knock over your valuables without a second thought. If there’s anything that you don’t want damaged, or that could be dangerous to them, you’ll want to remove it.
When we said only people who have the space and means to keep a raccoon should, what we meant is, they should be able to provide it with an outdoor enclosure – especially when they aren’t able to be with their pet for hours at a time.
In creating an outdoor pen, you should aim to make it as spacious as possible, and it should also have walls and a ceiling so that the raccoon is fully contained. The vast majority of raccoon owners will make this out of screening, and wood.
Inside of the pen, your raccoon should always have access to the following things:
- Shelter from bad weather conditions.
- Structures such as large branches for climbing and jumping on.
- Toys – like balls and puzzles, for example.
It’s all about keeping them safe, stimulated, and entertained.
Is it Even Legal to Own a Raccoon as a Pet?
Last of all, but by no means least, many of you might be asking, given all of the information we’ve shared regarding their temperament etc above, whether or not it’s even legal to keep a raccoon as a pet.
Taking a raccoon from its wild environment and keeping it as a pet is not only a silly idea, but is also illegal in many states in the US – unless you happen to be a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
Before you consider looking to keep a raccoon as a pet – even purchased legally – remember that they are illegal to keep as pets in many areas, so you should check this out first.
Some of the states in which pet raccoons are illegal, are:
Even if they aren’t illegal, there are usually strict laws about owning raccoons in the vast majority of states, such as certain states not allowing the importation of raccoons from other states, as an example.
You should also be sure to check all of the regulations you have to adhere to as a raccoon owner, before taking the plunge and owning one.
You need to think of the worst case scenarios. What if your raccoon escapes and gets loose? What if it scratches, or even bites someone outside of your home? There are some pretty harsh laws out there in regards to keeping wild animals as pets, and the repercussions of this. If your raccoon was to become problematic within its local community, it could even be ordered by law that it is euthanized.
Is it Really a Good Idea to Keep a Raccoon as a Pet?
Finally, we come to the killer question – is it really a good idea to keep a raccoon as a pet?
Summing up what we’ve looked at today, we would say that if you’re an experienced raccoon owner with a large outdoor space in which to build a pen, so long as it’s legal in your state, you would be able to own a raccoon.
However, for the average family out there, we would possibly recommend against raccoons as indoor pets. Not only can they become aggressive and bite in the blink of an eye, but without space and the right equipment, they can be extremely destructive to keep within the home, and even a risk to keep in the local community.
Thanks for reading!
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