Do Raccoons Make Good Pets?
Raccoons may be a pest animal in many areas, but there is no doubt that the furry markings does give the raccoon a cute appearance, with the 'bandit's mask' black markings around the eyes giving them an air of mischief. One of the difficulties with keeping raccoons as pets is that they are naturally wild animals, and their genetically inherited instincts will mean that they are naturally fearful of humans as a threat
. There are also several aspects of the care that a raccoon will require that is significantly more specialized than the care that the usual household pets would need.
Is It Legal And Safe To Keep A Raccoon As A Pet?
One of the first things that you should consider before even considering keeping a raccoon as a pet is to ensure that it is actually legal for you to keep a raccoon as a pet in your area. Most states will have regulations preventing people from keeping a raccoon that was born in the wild as a pet, while there are some states that will require raccoon owners to have a specific permit, and to purchase their raccoon from a licensed breeder.
Those who choose to purchase a raccoon from a breeder will usually be given a list of what vaccinations they have already received, or an indication of what vaccinations they will need as they grow up. Raccoons captured or taken from the wild should certainly not be kept as pets, as they can carry rabies, distemper and a range of other diseases, and are much more likely to become a troublesome pet.
What Can I Expect From A Raccoon As A Pet?
Almost everyone that does keep a raccoon as a pet will tell you that they have had to make some significant changes around their home, and that it certainly isn't the type of pet you should buy on impulse. Raccoons that are adopted at a very young age while they are still being bottle fed tend to have a stronger bond with their owners, but they do require an awful lot of attention in order to keep them out of trouble. It is also vital that the raccoon is spayed, otherwise they will quickly become territorial and aggressive as they grow older.
Raccoons are not naturally inclined to living in a human home, and they can be very destructive particularly as they grow up. From chewing electric wires to clawing and tearing walls and furniture, most raccoon owners will find that they are replacing furniture fairly regularly, although keeping the raccoon active and entertained can help to reduce this damage. It is also worth noting that raccoons are nocturnal animals, so they will generally be at their most active and demanding at night.
Raccoons can live for up to twenty years in some occasions, and they cannot be left alone without being looked after, so deciding to adopt a raccoon as a pet is a major commitment, and one that is likely to come with plenty of blood, sweat and tears.
Training And Caring For A Raccoon
As naturally social animals, raccoons can do well as pets in a home with other animals such as friendly dogs, and it is best to introduce these at a fairly early age. Providing plenty of toys and clever games for the raccoon to play helps with their development, and although they are prone to scratching and biting, it is also worth handling the raccoon regularly so that they will become used to it. It is also important to train the raccoon to use a litter tray, otherwise they will give in to their natural instinct to mark their territory by urinating across the home.
Raccoons do require a mixed diet, and most owners will vary the foods that they give to their raccoons, from dry dog food and cooked meat to offal, fruit and vegetables. It is important not to over feed raccoons as they can gain weight easily, and they do best with a mixed diet to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. Raccoons will also need a bowl of water with their food, which is best served outdoors, as raccoons prefer to douse their food with water before eating, and this can get quite messy. Raccoons love water, so it is important to make sure that they can't reach the bathroom or any sinks, as they are likely to get water everywhere.
Committing To Keeping A Raccoon
For the vast majority of pet owners, keeping a raccoon is not a good idea, and they are not animals that naturally make good pets. However, for those who do choose to keep a raccoon, it is important to know that it is a big commitment. Raccoons can live for up to twenty years in a domestic setting, and once you have raised your raccoon, it is very difficult to relocate the raccoon. In most cases the raccoon will reject another owner, and even though it may not scratch and bite you, even older and calmer raccoons can often bite and scratch new people. It is also not possible to release a domesticated raccoon into the wild, as it will not be able to survive, so it is vital to understand the commitment of owning a raccoon as a pet first.