That raccoon sure looks cute? Can I keep it?
Raccoons are wild animals. Yes, they can be kept inside, but they do not have centuries of living with humans to influence their behavior. They aren’t accustomed to living with us as are domesticated dogs and cats.
Much like a ‘pet’ boa constrictor, if you live with a raccoon what you will end up with is a wild animal that lives in your house.
Undeterred? Still want one of those cute things?
First check out the law regarding raccoons. Is it legal to have a raccoon as a pet where you live? In many states the answer is NO, or there are conditions you must follow. Check here for states laws on raccoons.
Do you live in more animal rights oriented Europe? In Austria and Germany there are more requirements: there must be at least two animals per pen, and they can’t roam the house at will but need their own environment.
And neighborhoods can zone them out or outlaw via CCRs. Or you may need to purchase a license to have a raccoon as a pet.
But if you live in Indiana, here’s your source for baby pet raccoons. One year wait. Deposit required.
As raccoons age their behaviors becomes more aggressive. Neutering after may help cub instinctual behaviors.
Do you like the idea of being bit by a raccoon? That will happen, and may happen to your visitors, so make sure you have updated insurance to cover that possibility. Is cleaning up the mess from their sloppy eating, pooping, and the destruction of your house your idea of fun?
Raccoons do not want to live in a cage, but need their own room and toys. They need exercise and the ability to roam around your house, so make sure you have locks on cabinets and have raccoon proofed your house from their curiosity. Is making sure the raccoon gets a strict diet to avoid obesity, the most common cause of death in a kept raccoon, on your checklist? How about arranging for someone else to take care of the raccoon when you go away?
Or maybe the raccoon needs its own space. An outside pen for the raccoon with all the above toys for their curiosity to be engaged is a possibility.
Yes, you can keep a raccoon, if your area allows it legally, but more likely than not, you’ll give up on it when it turns aggressive. You can let it go in the woods; but there it will die, as it doesn’t have the behaviors to survive.
There was only one pet raccoon that gained any real notoriety.
Rebecca was a raccoon originally scheduled for the Thanksgiving dinner plate of President Coolidge in the 20s. Having been sent from Peru Mississippi, the Coolidge’s found her to be too domesticated and pleasant an animal to eat. Calvin reportedly walked the animal around on a leash, and his wife Grace brought the raccoon out for crowds. Eventually the Rock Creek Zoo became Rebecca’s home.
Raising Abandoned Raccoons
Some people have made the above sacrifices to raise an abandoned baby raccoon. Check out the Remo William Coon’s site, who had a companion raccoon for 18 years. And this little raccoon was saved after the disastrous Yarnell Hill AZ wildfire in the summer of 2013. She ended up in rehab facility, as she was too injured to return to the wild, even after recovery.
Rehab and Return
Perhaps the best path for those who raise an abandoned raccoon is to set the raccoon free when it is able to be returned to the wild. The Forest Babies Rehabilitation Center has tales of successes using this approach.
Bottom line: let the raccoons live in the wild, or what’s left of the wild outside our doors. Or if you are keeping a raccoon, be aware you are at the very beginning of the human attempt to domesticate raccoons. Perhaps after centuries raccoons will be as human oriented as cats and dogs, but that’s a lone way off.
Perhaps you have a few thousand years to spare to help raccoons evolve. If so, see the Evolution page on this site.