Raccoons As Pets

How to properly care for a domestic raccoon pet.

Though raccoons are bred and sold as a domestic pet I disagree that they are domestic. Domestication of an animal takes thousands of years. The raccoon can be a pet but is still very much a wild animal. While baby raccoons are sweet and endearing, adult raccoons can bite and become destructive and vicious. Rarely does a raccoon make a good pet. In some instances raccoons have made successful pets but this is often not the case. Once a raccoon becomes an adult and unmanageable people want to let them loose. A raccoon raised in a home, as a pet has no survival skills to be released into the wild. If released he will starve and die. The raccoon will be unafraid of humans and be shot.

Housing

When raccoons become adults they live solitarily. An adult raccoon will not do well with another raccoon in the house.

A raccoon should not be raised in a cage. If he must be caged for short periods of time the cage should be large. If a raccoon is kept as a pet he must have the run of the house. He should have a room of his own. In his own room he can have his own bed. Raccoons are very destructive and have a tendency to dig large holes in a bed to nest. He should have his own stuff then he will be less inclined to destroy your stuff. Your raccoon can retreat into his own room and should feel safe. Provide him with pillows, blankets and sheets. Give him plenty of safe toys. They love balls, stuffed animals and many of the infant and toddler toys on the market. Raccoons are destructive but if they learn from early time on they will learn to leave your stuff alone.

Your home must be raccoon proof. All cupboards should have locks. Raccoons are very proficient climbers. All knickknacks should be locked up. There is no such thing as being out of reach of a raccoon.

Training

Training a raccoon takes considerable patience. A raccoon can never be hit. He will consider it an attack and will attack back viciously. A raccoon can be taught the word no. He might even listen and mind the word no occasionally. If he chews on something of yours, substitute it for one of his toys. If he uses you as a chew toy stick a soft toy in his mouth and tell him no. It will take time but he can learn the word no.

Raccoons can be litter boxed trained. Though once they are trained they will still express anger or displeasure by eliminating on something of yours. Raccoons will also leave marks during mating season. After mating season they well return to using the litter box.

A raccoon can get angry and throw a fit. Immediately show him you're displeased and give him a time out in his bedroom. Don't let your raccoon climb you like a tree. While this is cute while they're, young a 50-pound raccoon climbing your body isn't comfortable.

Grooming

A raccoon should be bathed once or twice a year. Don't bathe him any more often than that because of loss of body oils. Throughout the year, without shampoo, fill up the bathtub with plain water and let the raccoon play in the water with his toys.

A raccoon can be gently brushed with a brush or wire comb. Once a year a raccoon's fur will crack. This cracking occurs in early spring. The dead winter fur will come out in clumps. The fur becomes a tangled mess. Comb this matted fur out very gently.



Nutrition

Raccoons are omnivores. Feed them fresh fruits, vegetables, chicken, turkey and fish. Red meat is not good for raccoons. A high protein, low ash, poultry based dog food can be fed. Raccoons raised domestically are very susceptible to obesity. One of the most common causes of death in a raccoon is heart failure due to obesity. Obesity can cause other health problems such as fatty liver disease and hip displaysia.

A raccoon needs lots of exercise and space to run around. If the raccoon does not get plenty of exercise he will have serious health problems.

Raccoons are notoriously messy diners. They mix their food with their water and end up with a big soupy mess every time.

Legalities of Owning a Raccoon

Rabies can be a danger. Though rabies is not as widespread as the media lets on, it can be a danger. Even if you know your raccoon doesn't have rabies or has been vaccinated against rabies, if he bites someone and it is reported he will have to be tested for rabies. There is only one procedure recognized to test for rabies: the raccoon is killed and the head sent to a lab for testing. No wild animal is exempt. He will die.

In many states it is illegal to own a raccoon. In many other states it is legal as long as you obtain a permit before purchasing a raccoon. Check the local and state laws thoroughly before purchasing a raccoon and obtain the permits you will need. If you have a raccoon in an illegal state or with out a proper permit the raccoon can be seized and destroyed.

A raccoon can and will bite. Make sure you have a liability insurance policy to protect you when he does bite and scratch someone.

Purchasing a Raccoon

Purchase a raccoon with shiny fur and bright eyes. Usually the quieter babies make the gentler pets.

Health Issues

Roundworm is a serious problem for raccoons. This parasite is called the Baylisascaris Procyonis or the raccoon round worm. It can be transferred to humans and other pets. This roundworm can cause blindness, central nervous system damage and death! A wormer is available but must be administered regularly. Discuss this with a vet that is familiar with raccoons.

A raccoon needs to be vaccinated for distemper. Distemper can be airborne, so even if your raccoon is always in the house he needs to be vaccinated. Distemper is a very disabling disease and is almost always fatal and never reversible.

Owning a raccoon is a way of life. They require a great deal of time and attention. You will have to continually provide him with entertainment. They can be vicious and they do bite. Raccoons are destructive and messy. Serious thought needs to be given before purchasing a raccoon

© Demand Media 2011