Other name(s): Common North American Raccoon; Northern Raccoon; Coon
Scientific name: Procyon lotor
There are few creatures as entertaining and resourceful as the Raccoon, and in North America their charming babies have been adopted as pets since colonial times. Unfortunately, Raccoons invariably become dangerously aggressive as they mature, and they are also capable of infecting people with several deadly diseases. Recent population explosions enable raccoon fans to observe Raccoons even in the heart of New York City, and that is how they are best enjoyed. Folks seriously interested in close contact should seek training as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
The Raccoon’s enormous range extends from Alaska and northern Canada to northern South America. In the USA, they are absent only from portions of the Rocky Mountains and several southwestern states. Fur farm escapees and released pets have established populations in Japan, Russia, and several European countries.
This consummate survivor is at home in a habitats, including forests, brushy meadows, woodlots, swamps, coastal marshes, seashore dunes, farms, suburban yards, and the streets of Manhattan and other urban centers.
Appearance / health:
Raccoons are sometimes compared to bear cubs in build, and measure 24-40 inches in length. Their weight ranges from 12-45 pounds, with some hefty captives having topped 60 lbs. The dense fur is a grizzled salt-and-pepper in color, the tail is encircled by 5-8 black rings, and the eyes are surrounded by their classic “burglar’s mask”. A Raccoon’s hands are as dexterous as a monkey’s. White, black, cinnamon, and other strains have been produced by fur farms.
The average lifespan is 8-15 years, with some captives reaching age 20. Raccoons are common hosts of the parasitic raccoon roundworm, which when transferred to humans can cause paralysis and/or death. Strict precautions must be taken when working with raccoons. As few veterinarians treat Raccoons (ownership is prohibited in much of the USA), roundworm fecal tests may be difficult to arrange. There is no approved rabies vaccine for Raccoons.
Behavior / temperament:
Raccoons are solitary animals and, except when young, do not bond with humans. Upon maturity they become dangerously-aggressive, well able to inflict severe, permanent injuries with their razor-sharp teeth and claws. Raccoons cannot be housebroken or trained not to damage furniture and other household items.
A custom-made outdoor enclosure of at least 20x20x12 feet (L x W x H), but preferably larger, would be required to house an adult Raccoon. Stout tree trunks, branches, and platforms must be provided as climbing surfaces. A small dog-house style retreat, preferably above-ground, should be available. Raccoons can tolerate sub-zero to very warm temperatures if provided shelter from wind, rain, snow and sun.
Raccoons are consummate omnivores, with urban individuals subsisting on refuse often out-weighing their country cousins. Zoos provide canned and dry carnivore diets (similar to dog food) supplemented with pre-killed mice and chicks, whole fish, crayfish and a wide array of fruits and vegetables.
Raccoon breeding is a dangerous affair for both Raccoon and Raccoon owner, and is best left to professionals. Sexual maturity is reached by age 1-2 years. Females give birth to 1 annual litter of 1-8 kits after a gestation period of 9 weeks. The youngsters go off on their own at age 4 months or so, but in the northern portions of the range may remain with the mother over their first winter.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
intelligent, amazing animals, licensed rehabber, professional rehabilitator, exotic animals specialist
sexually mature, wild animals, Destructive Behaviors, illness, digestive problems, bite, proper enclosure
deadly parasite, rabies vaccine
I have a pet raccoon named Ratchet, he is two years old. Though he is the greatest joy in the world, anyone who owns a raccoon would agree with me that it takes a very special person to raise and keep a raccoon. The time spent and the patience involved are unbelievable! I have never recommended anyone to get a pet raccoon simply because it is alot of work and alot of time spent. This is not something just anyone can do! Most people like the joy of saying they have a pet raccoon but dont like the responsibility behind it. Ratchet is very loving! He makes me laugh at all the funny and different things he does daily ( well, when I'm not yelling at him for destroying hundreds of dollars worth of my belongings!) THATS NO JOKE!!!! He cuddles with me in bed at night, plays with the cat, plays with dice ( his fav toy) loves stuffed animals, but ultimately loves things that dont belong to him! When I want him to play with something I pretend he's not allowed to have it and he sneaks and gets it and plays with it until it is destroyed! I can watch him for hours! My family laughs at me because when i talk about him i act out everything he does and talk about him almost as much as i do my daughter! I really had a hard time dealing with him until one day i realized something THE OBVIOUS " IF I DON'T WANT MY STUFF TORE UP THEN I HAVE TO GO TO GREAT EXTENTS TO KEEP HIM OUT OF THEM!" So, weekly, i raccoon proofed! WHY? Because he grew at such a rapid rate and was so curios it took weekly thought and i had to watch his every movement!!! So now he and I have an understanding... I'll keep my stuff up and he'll leave it alone....SOMETIMES!!! I love my raccoon!!!!.
From michele609 Sep 29 2015 10:31AM
Decent cage but does not hold up well long term
I Rehabilitate Raccoons and have three of the ferret nation cages. I like them because they are sturdier then some other options. However, they do not hold up well over several years. After the first year they begin to show signs of rust and wear and tear. I have one cage that is three years old and I have had to wire the doors shut because they have become misaligned on the frame. So now they do not shut properly, much to the delight of Tim who lives in it! .
From Ame Vanorio 719 days ago
Tempting to Keep, But Don't!
I found Bandit when walking through the woods one day. He was wandering alone and appeared frightened and malnourished. I took him home and began researching what to feed a young raccoon. Bandit was affectionate but required a lot of attention. We had to feed him every two hours and clean his cage constantly. He liked to try to escape as he got older, so we also had to escape-proof the house. We eventually found a suitable rescue for him, and he went to be taught how to survive in the wild where he belonged.
Raccoons are intelligent, but they are wild. It is best to let them live in the wild where they are free to roam, interact with other raccoons, and they cannot be a danger to you or your pets. Raccoons like to steal and hide things, so make sure you keep a tab on your jewelry. They also might get aggressive during mating season, so make sure you do your research. Most states require you to have a permit in order to keep a raccoon, so be sure to look up your states laws..
From igual Nov 24 2015 5:44PM