So you finally have your pet raccoon. You are now ready to start your adventure of raising a baby raccoon. So as you arrive home with your new pet, eager to take care of him, this is the first question you need to answer: What do baby raccoons eat?
If you wanted a head start on your relationship, you probably bought a raccoon that is still on the bottle, which means a very young raccoon. Purchasing a raccoon that is still on the bottle is necessary for the bonding process. But taking care of these critters is in itself a challenging and demanding task. You need to establish a friendly relationship with the animal from an early age. Such an approach will prove beneficial in the long run and you will experience fewer problems with your pet.
What To Feed Baby Raccoons
This is your first encounter with the demanding task of having a pet raccoon. The question, “what do baby raccoons eat”, is quite simple: powdered milk with high fat content. Just keep in mind this important information — never feed your little raccoon whole milk.
If the food your new pet requires is quite simple, the how and when of feeding are a different story.
For about the first seven weeks of life, you need to feed the baby raccoon up to five times a day. To feed him at regular intervals, you will even need to wake up during the night and respond to his pleas for food.
How much food do baby raccoons eat? While they are nursing, they may easily overfeed. You must give your raccoon just enough to feel that his belly is full. Do not wait until he starts to refuse the milk because this is a sign that he has already had too much.
After each feeding you should burp the raccoon, and at the same time, using a cotton ball soaked in warm water, massage the genital area to help him relieve himself.
The first few weeks will definitely be an amazingly busy time for you and your new pet raccoon. But after the first few weeks, the baby raccoon will be ready to get into some solid foods.
What Do Baby Raccoons Eat After Bottle-Breaking?
Weaning a raccoon is not difficult, though some individuals may be harder to bottle-break than others.
When you see that your pet is big enough, usually around the seventh or eighth week, you can start to introduce some of the foods raccoons will eat as an adult.
After the bottle, your raccoon will begin to show his omnivorous side, and he can start to eat almost any kind of food. Even so, you should introduce the food gradually. You might, for instance, add baby cereal to the milk or give him a soft food like fruit that he is able to chew.
What Do Baby Raccoons Eat After Weaning
After your baby raccoon has been weaned, the task of feeding the animal will still be demanding. It may be easier than bottle-feeding, but controlling your pet’s diet will always be your responsibility.
Raccoons living in the wild can eat practically anything, and their diets are pretty variable. The wild raccoon diet depends on the animal’s personal instincts and the different seasons and habitats he is dealing with. In contrast, a pet raccoon cannot make his own decisions about food. He is completely dependent on you.
You cannot treat your raccoon like a dog or a cat; it is not that simple. These common pets can survive on canned food, but not your pet raccoon. He may love cat or dog food in the can, but feeding him only that is not healthy for the animal. Make sure to give your pet a variety of food items daily and to choose the healthiest ones.
You can pick from among a great variety of edibles. Some staple foods for pet raccoons are fresh vegetables, uncooked corn on the cob, fruit, fish, poultry, eggs and grain-free dog food.
From time to time, you also need to cater to his predatory nature and feed him mice, minnows or insects. If possible, don’t make these treats easily available to your raccoon. Put them in a plastic box, hide them or, in the case of minnows, release them into a bowl of water. Raccoons love hunting and challenges, and finding a solution to reach the food entertains them. As a result, your raccoon will be happier, less bored and less destructive inside your house.
What To Avoid When Feeding A Pet Raccoon
Raccoons living in the wild are greedy for nuts like acorns, beechnuts and walnuts. Your pet raccoon will love them too. But you should limit his consumption of this high-calorie food.
In fact, wild raccoons eat nuts to prepare for the cold winter. Eating nuts is a raccoon’s way to store fat in his body to survive the winter. Your raccoon, who lives inside your warm house, does not need any extra fat during the winter. For this reason, you need to control the amount of calories he eats, which translates into not feeding him too many nuts.
Raccoons living in captivity have a tendency toward obesity, so you need to monitor your raccoon’s diet carefully. These critters have a sweet tooth too, and they enjoy treats like marshmallows. You should avoid sweets altogether or at least limit their consumption. If your raccoon becomes overweight, you will have an unhealthy pet raccoon.
There is one more important point concerning what do baby raccoons eat: They love to soak their food in water. You should put a bowl of water next to your raccoon’s food so that water is always available during meals. Your critter will not be careful with the water and will often spill or overturn the bowl. Feeding a pet raccoon means cleaning up his mess every time he eats.
Conclusions On Feeding A Pet Raccoon
What do baby raccoons eat is a serious responsibility. A raccoon may eat almost anything that gets close to his mouth, but a captive raccoon needs special attention.
His health and life expectancy depend on what you decide to feed him. As we already mentioned, a diet that is not balanced may lead to raccoon obesity, which is potentially fatal.
A captive raccoon does not have as active a life as a wild raccoon, and this is another factor that should guide your decisions on the quantity of food to give him.
Feeding a raccoon is just a small part of the big challenge of raising a pet raccoon. These exotic pets require a lot of care and patience, and you need to be willing to dedicate a good portion of every day to your pet — because his life is literally in your hands.