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Pet Raccoon

pet raccoon

08.23.2004 - I probably get two or three requests per year for raccoon babies that people want to keep and raise as pets.  I mean, just look at how cute they are!  How darling!  Your grandaddy told you that he kept a raccoon as a pet, and it was great!  Who can resist that black mask and that ringed tail and those cute little hands?  I do admit, I handle a lot of baby raccoons that I get out of attics, and they are just about the cutest animal alive - cuter than kittens or puppies, and they make the most darling noises.  Just look at it cuddling on my lap.  Irresistible.  Great then!  Just the pet you're looking for.

Until it suddenly and without warning bites your face off once it reaches 6 months old.  Raccoons are wild animals.  There's a reason they are not commonly made pets.  Believe me, if they could be domesticated, they would be, because they are very pretty and smart animals, and they have distinct personalities and a lot of fun traits.  But they are wild animals through and through.  Once they hit sexual maturity at about six months of age, they are no longer gentle and cuddly.  I've heard of many cases in which people keep pet raccoons and suddenly find themselves under attack without warning one day.  Yes, there are exceptions, and some raccoons are simply more aggressive than others.  But you should not take a chance with a raccoon as a pet.

And another thing: it's illegal in pretty much all states in the USA to keep a raccoon as a pet.  Usually only people who are certified and licensed as wildlife rehabilitators can keep raccoons in their home or on the premises.

Of the people who I've talked to who have had raccoons as pets, I've heard various stories.  Some have managed to do it successfully, some have been attacked unprovoked, and everyone agrees that this is the messiest pet alive.  Raccoons don't just eat their food or drink their water.  They spread it all over the place.  They climb, and they pry open cabinets and take things apart.  It may sound cute, but it means that if a raccoon is in your house, it will destroy a lot.  They are best left in a large pen with lots of toys and things to climb.

How do you obtain a pet raccoon?  Many people want to know where to find a raccoon breeder.  I've never known of one.  That's why so many people ask me for baby raccoon, because I get them all the time out of attics.  But I always decline, and never give a raccoon to a person, not even for a high amount of money, due to the above reasons.  I always give baby raccoons to a wildlife rehabber who feeds and raises them in a proper environment and relocates them to the wild, where they belong.

pet raccoon

Above are some photos that a reader sent to me about her pet raccoon baby. Here's the email text that she wrote to me:

I read your site. I clean him well and am careful with his litterbox but he does sleep in my bed. Usually under the covers by my feet but occasionally on my pillow. I've had him dewormed but cant find a vet for immunizations. He has adopted me and i him. He's so funny sweet and naughty at the same time. Any resources you could provide would be helpful. I've had him 2 months and he's about 2 1\2 to 3 months old. I've tried to introduce him to the outdoors but he likes the house. In fact if he gets scared he runs right for the door..lol... He has a cage that is left open for him and lots of toys to chew and climb. I've thought a lot about his quality of life but he seems so happy here. I leave the door open but he follows me or sits by me. He doesn't leave. We go for walks and he stays at my feet. I worry about his future and my health. Thank you for your time and ANY advice. Its too late for don't do it... lol.. ;-)

I also got this email:

I reside in Michigan. I found an orphaned raccoon about 2 months ago. He is approx 2 1\2 to 3 months old. He was bottle fed for almost 1 1\2 months with kitten replacement milk. I am very careful in caring for him (he is bathed every other day which he LOVES) and I'm careful in disposing of his waste. He is litterbox trained but does put his paws on my face in my coffee or soda and does share my bed. I've had him wormed but cant find a vet that will treat him with vaccines (rabies and distemper). Any advice or resources you could provide would be helpful. I love him and he has adopted me as his mum. I don't want to lose him or become ill. He gets scared outside and has made his nest in a kitchen drawer than i cleaned out for him and lined with self paper. He's cute quirky and so enjoyable. He has such a great and funny personality. I would love to let him live in the wild but he is a mamas boy and I don't see his release as being successful. He is a great companion and pet.

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The raccoon (Procyon lotor), is a unique animal native to North America. It's not closely related to any other animals, with distant relatives such as bears and weasels. Coons are easy to recognize, with a black mask and ringed tail. Raccoons tend to weigh between 10-20 pounds as adults. They are mostly nocturnal, and are omnivores. Racoons average a lifespan of about 5 years in the wild, and have a litter of 3-6 young each spring. They are very strong, excellent climbers, very intelligent, and they are very skilled with their hands. Raccoons have learned to thrive in urban areas, and live in very high densities in cities, where they eat garbage and pet food. They commonly break into homes and attics, where they cause considerable damage, and they also destroy other property, and thus racoons are considered pest animals by many people. Raccoon control and removal, especially from inside homes, is best left to a professional.

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