Should I Feed Raccoons In The Neighborhood?
Feeding raccoons is one of the many things that people do in order to attract the animals and to enjoy seeing these attractive creatures in the flesh, and there is no doubt that with their lovely patterned fur that a raccoon can be cute. However, feeding a raccoon is not the same as placing a bird feeder in the garden, and while some raccoons have become familiar with humans and are tame enough to accept food, it is not a smart thing to try. Raccoons are wild animals
, and are unlikely to behave in a docile and tame way, and can be a significant threat to humans, particularly if cornered or infected with rabies.
Reasons Not To Feed Raccoons
Whether you are feeding the raccoons that appear in your yard or whether you feed them in a park or public area, there are likely to be people in that area that will not want you to be drawing raccoons to the area. While they are cute and will hungrily eat any food that is offered, they are also a major problem for many people, and can cause significant damage and mess in any area where they are present. As well as making yourself unpopular with the neighbors, if you are feeding the raccoons they are also more likely to return to the area if they know that they are likely to be fed there.
Being fed by humans can also be very bad for the raccoons, as it will reduce their own reliance on their foraging skills, and where they are fed to excess the raccoons can also become overweight and unhealthy. The diseases that can be transmitted by the animal are quite contagious, and are a very good reason not to get any closer to a raccoon than you really have to.
Problems Caused By Feeding Raccoons
Raccoons are clever and creative animals that are generally very good foragers, and are adaptable enough to be able to find food in all manner of terrain, although they are at their best in a forest. One of the side effects of feeding a raccoon is that if it is done regularly then it can often cause a reliance on human feeding, and particularly if you feed them in your yard or garden they may become regular visitors to the area where they can cause trouble. It is also vital not to try and feed raccoons by hand, as they can bite and will often not understand the motions that you make while you are feeding them.
Should You Feed An Abandoned Baby Raccoon?
Another problem that some people will encounter is if they ever find an abandoned baby raccoon that appears to have been left behind by its mother. In some cases the female raccoon may be just a short distance away looking for food, or sleeping in a nearby tree, but feeding the baby raccoon is also not a good idea. Most households will not have the suitable food that can be used to successfully feed a baby raccoon and keep it alive.
A common mistake is to try and feed cow's milk to the baby raccoon, and because the undeveloped stomach of the young animal is unable to process the milk, this can cause illness or even cause the young raccoon to die. While puppy and kitten replacement milk may work when it comes to feeding the raccoon, if the animal has been abandoned it could well be dehydrated, and even this could cause problems for the young animal.
The Raccoon's Diet
One of the interesting things about raccoons is that they will eat almost any source of food that is available, and in their traditional rural setting they will eat a mixture of fruits, nuts, insects and other meat. During the summer and the fall raccoons will be particularly keen to find the flourishing fruit that provide a very good source of food for them to build up their energy stores for the winter. They are also very opportunistic, and will usually look for food that is easy to recover, including bird's eggs and fish where they can be easily caught.
Urban raccoons are hugely adaptable animals, and will often find their food rooting through garbage and discarded waste to find items to eat. They are particularly fond of pet food if they can find a pet owner who leaves the food out for their pet, while they are also known to eat any insects they can find, which is why areas with raccoons will often see homes with tiles that have been loosened or torn out so that the raccoon can get to the small insects beneath.