Having pet raccoons may sound like a good idea to some people. Almost everyone can agree that raccoons are remarkably adorable. If you have ever observed raccoons up close or even from afar, you have probably noticed that, not only are they cute and furry, but they are full of personality and life!
Every now and then you might have an urge to get some kind of exotic animal as a pet, (yes, raccoons count as exotic) but is a raccoon a good choice? There are plenty of different exotic pets out there. Some people lend their homes out to lions, tigers, different scary lizards, foxes, skunks, and even elephants! All of these interesting animals aside, you might ask: would a pet raccoon make a good at-home companion for me?
Acquiring Pet Raccoons
Sometimes raccoons are kept as pets. This could be done in a variety of different reasons, some more noble than others. Some people have acquired baby raccoons from rehabilitation centers that could not be released into the wild. This manner of getting yourself a pet raccoon is definitely recommended if you must have one as a pet.
On the other hand, while not exactly recommended, many people who have wanted to raise a raccoon as a pet have simply gone to their nearest local raccoon breeder, and bought a baby raccoon. Either way of acquiring a raccoon as a pet will turn into quite a troublesome journey. Blood, sweat, and tears will very likely be shed.
Can It Really Be That Bad?
Raccoons are not a domesticated species, and because of this, they can act unpredictably. Raccoons raised from birth and frequently handled can make tolerable pets, but even so, they may occasionally act aggressively and it is usually very difficult, or impossible, to teach them commands.
You can also guarantee that while raising your raccoon to adulthood, if you attempt to keep it inside your home, it will tear up and damage a good amount of your property such as shoes, couches, blankets, and more. They are also very difficult to house-train. If you cannot manage to train your raccoon to use a litter box semi-regularly then it will be relieving itself around your home unless you keep it caged, which is not ideal.
Raccoons are not only notorious for their unruly behavior, they are also very intelligent (as much as some monkeys). This assists raccoons in their mischievous acts. On top of being very intelligent for an animal, raccoons have very nimble front paws and an amazing sense of touch. Because of this they can easily uncork bottles, unscrew some jars, unlatch latches, and some more experienced trouble-makers have been found opening accessible door-knobs.
Older, sexually-mature raccoons have been recorded being more violent especially during mating-season. It’s important that if you do choose to keep a raccoon as a pet that you neuter them at a young age to decrease the likeliness of mating-related aggression developing.
Raccoons can also be prone to obesity if not regularly fed a proper diet. Some owners who don’t do their research might think it’s alright to feed a raccoon cat food for its entire life. These owners are sadly mistaken – raccoons are not cats. They are not dogs. In fact, raccoons are a wild, undomesticated animal. They require not only more attention, but significantly more care than a cat or dog. Raccoons can develop obesity and other disorders due to lack of exercise and poor diet. Raccoons fed cat food over an extended period of time can also develop gout, a painful disorder that affects the joints.
Raccoons are notably social creatures and without a raccoon friend they are prone to loneliness and depression. In some countries in Europe, it is actually required by law to keep at least two raccoons in order to prevent their loneliness.
Besides the many reasons already stated that should deter you from attempting to keep a raccoon as a pet, it is also illegal in many states. You should do the proper research to find out whether or not it is allowed in your own state before you go about looking for a new raccoon companion.
I Decided I’m Going To Do It Anyways
If you have found that it is not illegal where you live to keep a raccoon as a pet, and you have decided that you wish to go about raising a raccoon as a pet despite many cautions to not do so, then you should keep a few things in mind.
Pet raccoons need space. Raccoons, as wild animals, are not meant to be confined to the space of your home, especially if you do not have a big property for it to roam. It can be very difficult to keep a raccoon in your home with you, and you should be prepared to give it regular exercise, or free reign to outdoor activity if you wish your raccoon to be healthy and happy.
Proper care of a pet raccoon. Before acquiring a raccoon, you must do the right research to know how to properly care for it, if at all possible. That includes looking into local veterinary clinics, and knowing exactly where the closest clinic is that will treat raccoons or you will not be able to help your raccoon when it falls sick.
Raccoons need constant attention and care. If you are to go away on a vacation and cannot seem to find a way to take your pet raccoon with you, then you should always arrange to have a sitter for your pet.
Pet raccoons are a long term commitment. Raccoons live for 10-15 years if cared for properly. Once raised in captivity, a raccoon can not be released into the wild. Some dedicated raccoon enthusiasts have even put raccoons in their will to ensure the animal is taken care of after their death.
Consider where you purchase it from. It would also be best to look into getting your raccoon from a rehabilitator as opposed to getting one from a breeder. You would at least be helping an orphaned raccoon, rather than contributing to a population of raccoons as pets that deserve to have been raised in the wild.
Final Advice on Pet Raccoons
The last piece of advice for looking into getting a raccoon as a pet is this: make sure of everything! If you are entirely dead-set on getting pet raccoons you should understand that it will not be easy. Many raccoons are ultimately euthanized because their owners could not care for them properly, or eventually got tired of their antics. You don’t want to be the cause of death for your adorable pet raccoon, so make sure of every detail concerning their care before you acquire your pet raccoons.