With how adorable raccoons can be, with how they use their little paws and mask-like markings that make them look like little bandits, some people wonder if you can get a pet raccoon. While uncommon, people have kept pet raccoons over the years, including President Calvin Coolidge while he was in the White House. However, pet raccoons generally don’t make good pets. Here’s what you need to know about keeping raccoons as pets.
Do Raccoons Make Good Pets?
Smart as raccoons are, they are still wild animals. Raccoons are known for their mischievous and unpredictable nature, and even when they’ve been domesticated, they still maintain aggressive behavior. They can bite even humans they’re closest with. Pet raccoons can be friendly and cuddly, but they can also attack at any given moment with their long, sharp claws and vicious teeth.
Raccoons are very intelligent and can be affectionate, but even the tamest raccoon is unpredictable and very mischievous. They would require a lot of time, attention, and care, and are a massive commitment. While it is legal in some states to have a raccoon as a pet, they’re very difficult pets to have. So, in answer to whether or not raccoons make good pets: no. They don’t. We’ll get into the problems with pet raccoons below.
Is It Legal To Have A Pet Raccoon?
Here in Utah, it is prohibited to hold a raccoon in captivity, except as provided by the rules of the Agricultural and Wildlife Damage Prevention Board, according to Utah Code Title 4, Chapter 23, Section 111. The Division of Wildlife Resources enforces this, and any violation is an infraction.
So, basically: no, not in Utah, anyway. Currently, there are only 16 states that allow raccoons to be kept as pets, and Utah is not one of them. If you live in one of the states where it is legal to have a pet raccoon, there are strict regulations you need to follow, not to mention all the problems that come with pet raccoons.
The Problems With Pet Raccoons
While young, raccoons may be cute and cuddly, however, pet raccoons present a wide array of challenges and are often quite difficult to keep as a pet. There are many, many problems with pet raccoons, which is why it’s illegal in most states.
They Can’t Be Completely Domesticated
People have attempted to breed raccoons in order to make them good pets, in the hopes that the more generations that are born in captivity, the more easily domesticated they will be. However, unlike your typical household pets like cats and dogs, raccoons can’t be completely domesticated. When they reach their age of maturity, they can abruptly become aggressive and will bite you, your loved ones, and other pets.
Even though they can be friendly, raccoons are never truly docile, and can easily turn skittish and aggressive. People who have kept raccoons as pets, either in states where it is legal or done so illegally, have reported being attacked, even when they thought they’d tamed their pet raccoon.
This is also challenging because even though you can never truly tame a raccoon, if a raccoon has been raised in captivity, it shouldn’t be released back into the wild. Raccoons maintain their wild side even with all the time, love, and care in the world and even after having been bred in and raised in captivity for generations.
They’re Nigh Impossible To Train
Unlike cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals, raccoons retain wild instincts. They cannot be trained like other pets; they’re too independent and mischievous. While traditional pets can be trained to use litter boxes, raccoons are nigh impossible to train, and it could take you months to train it to use a litter box.
They Need Tons Of Space
Raccoons also aren’t content with small spaces. They would need to be able to roam around your home and have constant stimulation. In addition to needing a lot of space to climb and explore, raccoons are destructive and known to break into secured areas – they don’t just look like little bandits, they act like them too. Plus, raccoons are very messy, in how they eat and in how they behave.
So Many Health Risks
Raccoons are known for being carriers of several diseases, such as rabies, salmonella, roundworm, leptospirosis, and more. They can also have parasites, such as lice, fleas, and ticks. In some states where it is legal to have a pet raccoon, such as Texas, it is illegal to have them neutered, so you would also need to worry about a potential litter on your homes, if your raccoon escapes.
Finding Care For Your Pet Raccoon
Raccoons are wild animals, and exotic pets. If you have a pet raccoon, finding a vet who would be able to care for it and treat it if it gets sick or injured could be exceedingly difficult, not to mention expensive. If your pet raccoon injures someone, they could be euthanized, as they are known for being wild animals. Additionally, even if your state does allow you to have a pet raccoon, you would typically be required to have a wild animal permit.
Provided that your state allows you to have pet raccoons, you can’t just take a wild raccoon. You would need to find a reputable raccoon breeder and follow all state regulations. The states in which it is legal to have a pet raccoon have different regulations, so you will need to look these up and carefully adhere to them.