Diet is a primary concern for humans. We may stick to a diet to lose weight, to fight disease or just to keep ourselves healthy. Humans are omnivorous and with so many food choices available, it is not always easy to stick to healthy eating habits. Raccoons are omnivorous too, but unlike humans they don’t pay too much attention to their raccoon diet.
A raccoon diet is important for you, however, and deserves your attention. Why? So that you don’t attract food-seeking raccoons to your neighborhood. You want a clean, raccoon free environment around your house, and to do that you need to know: What do raccoons eat in the wild?
A pet raccoon diet may differ slightly from the wild raccoon diet. Here we will focus on what raccoons eat in the wild.
What Is a Raccoon Diet Like In The Wild?
Raccoons are omnivorous and usually not fussy about food. When there are plenty of options, the creatures may be somewhat picky and choose their favorite meal. However, raccoons aren’t usually that lucky, so generally speaking they eat whatever is available.
The raccoon is designed to be a perfect omnivorous eating machine that can comfortably adapt to whatever environment he lives in. For example, his dexterous hands make hunting for food very simple. Raccoon hands are perfectly built for climbing trees, exploring the surrounding environment, searching hollows, grabbing hold of things and so on.
A raccoon’s hands are even equipped with sharp claws that can easily kill small prey and severely wound bigger animals. Thanks to his pointy teeth, once the raccoon manages to find some food, chewing and swallowing is a walk in the park.
Nevertheless, there are certain foods that are all-time favorites, like fruit and nuts. These are staples of the raccoon diet.
It is not unusual in late summer to see raccoons ravaging apple or cherry trees or any other fruit available in the area. The same goes for berries, which raccoons love. When these fruits are on hand, a raccoon prefers them to worms or insects. Can you blame him?
Nuts become an essential element in the raccoon diet as winter approaches. In late summer and early autumn, you may see the raccoon hunting for walnuts, acorns, beechnuts and similar foods that are rich in calories. Finding filling food like nuts is a matter of survival for the raccoon.
Before the winter kicks in, he needs to store up fat to have a sufficient supply of energy to survive the cold. A raccoon knows all too well that in wintertime finding food is a challenging task. Instead, a raccoon will spend most of his time sleeping, and the fat stored mainly in his tail will keep him alive. Adding nuts to his diet before the cold arrives is therefore a matter of life and death.
Grains and corn are an additional source of food for raccoons, as farmers know very well. If there is a corn field in the neighborhood, it may quickly become the favorite dining spot for the local raccoon community.
Do raccoons eat meat? Of course they do; after all, they are omnivorous. Raccoons hunt and eat animals primarily in springtime when other foods like vegetables, fruits and nuts are scarce or not available.
In general, raccoons prefer to hunt small animals. Sometimes they resort to capturing bigger prey like large birds and mammals, but usually raccoons go for small prey that is slow, easy to catch and less likely to fight back. The raccoon’s most common prey are mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, worms and insects. If it’s easy to catch, it is a call to action for any raccoon.
The critters are even known to be good fishers. They are not afraid of water and often supplement their diets with frogs, fish, turtles, crayfish and even mollusks.
In keeping with his opportunistic nature, a raccoon will from time to time feed on other animals’ eggs or hatchlings stolen from the nest. If you think that’s not so nice, there is an even creepier side to the animal.
What raccoons eat in the wild may include carrion. That sounds disgusting to humans, and it’s probably not the raccoon’s favorite either. However, from the raccoon’s point of view, a dead animal is a straightforward source of sustenance that’s readily available without putting any effort into catching or killing it. That sounds like the perfect meal for a raccoon, and as a truly omnivorous creature he does not mind eating it.
What Is a Raccoon Diet In Metropolitan Areas?
The information above should sound like a warning signal if you live in an area inhabited by raccoons.
It is not just a matter of what do raccoons eat. As we just explained, there is almost nothing a raccoon won’t eat. The most worrisome aspect of the raccoon diet is that he always goes for the easy solution, and this is the biggest problem for many homeowners.
In a choice between food that he loves and food that he can get without any effort, well, the raccoon would probably go for the latter. That is the primary reason raccoons can easily adapt to living in urban areas and why they visit houses so often.
In some ways, the city life is quite easy for a raccoon. All he has to do is roam around and he will quickly find something to eat. Moreover, once a raccoon finds a source of food that is regularly available, he will become a repeat customer.
So, what do raccoons like to eat in metropolitan areas? The most common sources of food for raccoons in the city are trashcans. That’s where you put your daily leftovers, and what you throw away becomes the raccoon’s next meal. The foul odor coming from your trashcan is highly inviting to the animal, who can smell it from far away. If the scent reaches his nostrils, come nighttime he will pay a visit to your trashcan for sure.
But this is not the only food that may attract a raccoon to your yard. If you have fruit trees or berries, a raccoon may come by and enjoy your produce before you ever have the chance to pick it — after all, fruits and berries are still a raccoon favorite, even for a raccoon living in an urban area.
What about your pet food? Raccoons love it. If you leave it outside during the night, it is entirely possible that a raccoon will come by and eat it. Raccoons can become so addicted to this kind of food that sometimes they are brave enough to swing by in the daytime and fight over it with your pet.
The same is true when it comes to bird feeders. As we explained, raccoons love grains and nuts, especially during the cold season. This is exactly the same time when you are most likely to use a bird feeder to help birds in your garden. The bird feeder can quickly become an easy supply of high-calorie food for the raccoon. He will be so eager to reach the food inside that he will break your bird feeder into pieces in no time.
These are the most common foods that make up the raccoon diet in the city, but guess what? There are still plenty of other opportunities to find food around your house. Raccoons may like to fish in your pond or dig in your garden looking for grubs and worms. If you have a chicken coop, both the eggs and birds can be an easy target for the critter.
Not to mention how appealing your compost pile may be. The smell of the rotting waste is amazingly enticing to raccoons. If a raccoon will feed on carrion, then your compost pile is an even better option. In it, he can find rotten vegetables, fruit and even worms — a real banquet for a raccoon.
When raccoons are living in your neighborhood, you always need to be on the lookout and anticipate their next move.
How To Prevent A Raccoon From Eating In Your Garden
With so many inviting opportunities in your yard, it is critical for you to prevent raccoons from visiting your house regularly.
The task may be more difficult you expect. Raccoons are great with their hands, which are small but pretty powerful. You may try hard to secure your yard, but raccoons will work even harder to break in anyway. Most of the time, they’re successful.
For this reason, we advise you to take a look at our complete guide to preventing raccoons from visiting your yard. You shouldn’t wait until you spot raccoons around your house to start taking precautions. If raccoons are living in your neighborhood, take preventive measures immediately.
Many people prefer to feed raccoons instead of keeping them away — some of your neighbors may even have this habit. The point is that raccoons, like any other wildlife, do not need to be fed by humans. This is detrimental for the animals in the long run.
A raccoon that gets used to your home may pose a threat to your pets and even to your family. It doesn’t happen often, but your pet could get into a fight with one of the critters, and if that happens, there will not be a happy ending for your pet.
In addition, a raccoon that regularly visits your yard will leave droppings, or he may even transform your house into his latrine. Raccoon droppings are highly hazardous to human health, as raccoons and their feces are carriers of several serious diseases. You want to prevent exposure to these diseases at any cost.
Just as a raccoon enjoys easy meals, he also loves comfortable denning. Your house may offer plenty of ready-to-use dens. The classic ones are the chimney and the attic. If he chooses your home as a den, it may take a considerable amount of money to get rid of the raccoon and repair the damage he causes.
These are all valid reasons to take action immediately and secure your house. Make sure you eliminate any sources of food or water around your home. If the raccoon cannot find an easy meal, he will have no reason to visit your yard again.
Trapping A Raccoon Using His Food
Another option is to use what you just learned about the raccoon diet to trap him. After setting the trap, put some of the raccoon’s favorite food inside to attract the animal. You could use sweet fruits, vegetables, corn, cat food or even marshmallows. All make good bait.
But even if you use some of the foods that raccoons find irresistible, trapping a raccoon is not always as easy as it sounds. Apart from choosing the right bait, you need to use the right trap, set it in the right position, prepare it in a way that the animal will not get hurt and so on. If you do not have the necessary experience, you may end up trapping either the wrong raccoon or another animal entirely.
If you decide to try trapping, you should consider hiring a wildlife specialist like Get Raccoons Out. We have the necessary experience to trap raccoons successfully. Most important, we know how to release the animal according to the local regulations — which is, in fact, the next problem you need to solve after trapping a raccoon.
If you have raccoons in your neighborhood, or you are already having difficulties with the critters, act quickly and put an end to your problem. Contact Get Raccoons Out and our experts will help you find the best solution for your nuisance.