Racoons can be pets. This wild animal has been further domesticated over the years by people who think they’re adorable.
One of those people was President Calvin Coolidge. He owned two pet raccoons while he was in the White House.
I think going through the trouble of owning one is worth it but most animal experts don’t recommend keeping them as pets for the following reasons:
Pet Raccoon Problems
While domesticated are cute and all that, you may face the following challenges in your home:
Wild or Newly domesticated Racoons can become aggressive and might attack anyone including other pets, family, strangers, and other animals.
Undomesticated raccoons, can begin to exhibit these behaviours as early as six months old. Some raccoons may be curious and friendly with people for food and survival.
Others may be skittish and flee when approached.
They carry disease
Wild raccoons might be carriers of rabies, and there’s no approved vaccination for rabies, so if your raccoon scratches or bites anyone, they may be confiscated and euthanized for testing and as a safety precaution.
Raccoons can also carry and transmit leptospirosis, distemper, and Salmonella, as well as parasites like fleas, to humans. Baylisascaris is caused by roundworms from raccoons and can be deadly in people.
It is hard finding the best care
Unlike common pets such as cats and dogs, it may be almost impossible to find a veterinarian that specialized in the care of pet racoons, even in states where owning a domesticated pet racoon is legal.
How can I find a vet for my racoon? Search in your local area for a vet who specializes in exotic pets, and be sure to ask them if they at least have some knowledge in racoon care.
Also, if you’re planning to go on a trip or vacation and need a pet-sitter, you won’t likely be able to board your racoon, like you might with a dog or cat.
You’ll need to find a friend or hire a professional who’s capable of supervising your pet raccoon’s needs while you’re gone.
These animals are often associated with burglars- but it’s not only because of their looks. They also behave like them.
They use their long-fingered paws to open doors, unscrew lids, and do other tasks.
This can make it difficult to keep them out of areas or things they shouldn’t get into.
Enough with the bad, Let’s hear the good stuff!
Do Raccoons Make Good Pets?
Yes, they do. In fact, these black and white critters are intelligent animals. They can solve problems and have good memories. But, racoons are wild animals, so taking one from the wild can be illegal and won’t end well.
However, if you ever find one that has been rehabilitated or domesticated, they can be a loving and playful pet.
It’s only legal in 16 states to own pet raccoons and they include: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana
Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Texas, Rhode Island
Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
You’ll need to find out if your state allows them before bringing one into your home.
Domesticated racoons can be potty trained and become affectionate rather quickly.
But pet racoons love to play and cuddle. They aren’t for cages and small spaces since they like to climb and explore so keep this in mind as you acquire a tamed raccoon.
Caring for a Pet Raccoon
If you reside in a state that permits owning pet raccoons and you want to add one to your family, then you’re in luck.
Don’t go and pick one from the wild – too many risks! Instead, go find one from a reputable raccoon breeder who breeds domestic raccoons to be pets in homes.
Do not ring wild raccoons into your house, this is bad and illegal almost everywhere.
Your raccoon requires a spacious enclosure that lets its play, run and jump around.
You can also train your fur critter to use a little box if they will be indoor pets. If your racoon is staying in your house, a large dog crate can work for short periods of time.
But a pet raccoon needs to be able to roam freely when you’re there and able to supervise. Child-proofing your home will be necessary — pet raccoons will get into everything.
I recommend keeping a raccoon outside since that allows your pet raccoon space to play around. To engage their natural instincts, they require toys and things to climb on.
Make sure the enclosure has a top so your pet doesn’t wander off.
Food and Water
Wild and domesticated racoons are omnivores, meaning, they eat both plants and meats. They can feed on veggies, fruits, fish, plants, poultry, and insects.
Young raccoons will graze and consume as much as they want, but as they get older, you should limit their meals.
Complete dog foods make a great diet staple for racoons. They also love to dip their food in water before eating – this aids digestion.
So, give them a shallow water dish along with their meals.
Common Health Problems
Although raccoons born and raised in captivity are less likely to grow any of these diseases, it’s still very important to take your pet for regular vet visits.
Raccoons are susceptible to the following diseases, and infections:
- Fleas – A common sign is skin flaking & excessive itching as a sign something is wrong.
- Intestinal parasites – A good sign is abnormal faeces, weakness etc.
- Loss of appetite
- Urinary tract infections
- Obesity, due to lack of exercise
- Rabies; your vet can use canine rabies vaccination on them. But, it is unknown whether this vaccine is truly protective for raccoons.
Prior to getting a pet raccoon, find an exotic veterinarian who is willing to treat the animal. Even where raccoons are legal it can be difficult to find a vet who specializes in them.
Is It Legal to Own a Pet Raccoon?
Check-in with your local and state or provincial laws to find if raccoons are legal where you stay or not.
In some areas, including Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Massachusetts, pet racoons are illegal.
And there are specific laws surrounding raccoon ownership in most states. For instance, some states don’t allow the importation of raccoons from other states.
In addition to that, think carefully about the regulations for raccoon ownership. For example, what happens to your raccoon if it escapes your home? What happens if it bites or scratches someone? In some areas, the laws are quite harsh regarding the treatment of wild animals kept as pets, and they might lead to your beloved pet being euthanized if it’s problematic in the community.
Buying Your First Raccoon Guide
If you must own a racoon at all, BUY IT! Do not fall to the temptation of picking one from the wild and raising it as a pet.
That is not safe and definitely illegal in most areas unless you’re a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
And captivity can greatly stress a wild animal even to the point of killing it. Plus, animals that were taken into captivity often can’t be released back in the wild if you decide you can’t keep your pet because they become too reliant on and comfortable around humans.
So, it’s best to acquire a pet racoon from a reputable breeder and go to visit with the n=animal in person before you commit.
Don’t acquire an animal over the internet or via a classified ad.
How much does a pet raccoon cost? Expect to pay between $300 and $700 on average.
A good racoon breeder will be able to show you how they handle and interact with all of their young racoons to help tame the animals and reduce, if not eliminate its natural desire to attack and bite.
The breeder selling the animal should also be able to give you information on the animal’s origin and healthy history.
Some red flags include a raccoon that is underweight with its ribs showing, as well as a very lethargic animal or one that is not interested in food. These are likely signs of a health issue.
Pet Raccoon Legal States 2021
The following are states where you can own a pet racoon:
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Can Racoons Be Pets Near Washington?
No, you cannot.
Can Racoons Be Pets Near Seattle, Wa?
It is not legal to own a raccoon near Seattle, Wa
Can You Have A Pet Raccoon In California?
No, pet raccoons aren’t legal in California.
Can You Have A Pet Raccoon In Texas?
Yes, you can. It is 100% legal.
Can You Have A Pet Raccoon In Florida?
Yes, you can. It is 100% legal.
Safety Concerns before Handling a Racoon
Raccoons are known to be the main rabies carriers.
The following are large symptoms of rabid behaviour:
- Staggered walk
- Wet and matted hair on the face
- Erratic wandering
- Discharge from mouth or eyes
- Lack of response to noise or nearby movement
- Repeated high-pitched vocalization
If your pet raccoon is showing these symptoms, call your vet or animal control right away.
Raccoons can become infected with other parasites and diseases. Consider carefully if this is the right pet for you.