You might be surprised to learn this, but raccoons are not being considered wild animals as much as they used to be. You still go camping and there is a ninety percent chance that one will try to get in your cooler, but for some reason, people are starting to try to domesticate these animals.
In fact, they are now being referred to as the new urban animal. People from far and wide are saying that raccoons are far more common in cities and suburbs than undeveloped natural areas. While this might be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that taking one on as a pet is a good idea.
Understanding Raccoon Behavior
There is no denying that raccoons are cute looking. Heck, this is the number one reason that people want to bring them into the home. Once again, it still doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. Just because something looks cute and cuddly doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.
You have to remember that raccoons are wild creatures and their behaviors just might not be suited for indoor life. That aside, these creatures are very social and not afraid of humans. This is why they are not afraid to approach campsites and such.
Throughout their time in the wild, these creatures have had many interactions with humans, thus are somewhat familiar and used to it. In fact, it might seem that they are interacting quite nicely with you, but they have an extremely destructive nature.
Just slightest thing could set them off and they could go into a tailspin. Many people that have taken on raccoons as misstated pets claim that they are very affectionate and don’t mind spending lots of time cuddling, but this is still to be determined.
There is one thing that is for sure, and that is that raccoons do need their space from time to time. They need to be able to roam free, explore, and play. They are not fond of cages so trying to keep one in a cage is out of the question. At the very least it wouldn’t be a good idea and it could trigger a violent episode.
Raccoons have extremely sharp claws and teeth and are not afraid to use them. Stick one in a cage and you’ll see them come out, much like that of a cat, although cats are a bit more domesticated.
Baby raccoons, on the other hand, can be a bit different. This is not to say that their mentality isn’t just as dangerous as that of an adult raccoon. No, this is just to say that babies can be very social and affectionate, but you’ll likely experience a completely different attitude once it starts to mature.
These creatures reach a sexual maturity right around 6 months old and it is during this time that they can become very aggressive and attack for no reason whatsoever. They might attack children in the home even when they are unprovoked.
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Can Raccoons Be Domesticated
Since more and more people are trying to domesticate these creatures, you’ll find a number of sites or informational articles claiming that these creatures can be tamed. Well, this is only half true.
It is true that you can take a wild animal like a raccoon and tame it to a certain level, but it will only ever be partially tame. There is always going to be that feral side lingering deep down in there, and it will be ready, willing, and able to come out at any minute.
This is not to say that a lot of owners haven’t had some success with their new pets because that would be a lie.
There are even some reports of owners litter box training raccoons. Given that they are extremely social creatures, there is no denying or doubting that they will interact with humans easily enough. It is even fathomable that they might be able to learn some command words like a dog or cat.
However, you do have to remember that they are wild at heart and will always remain wild. This pretty much means that their natural instincts will prevent harmonious cohabitation at times.
What About The Associated Health Risks?
Furthermore, you always have to be concerned with health and safety anytime you bring an animal into the home. Heck, there is always a concern when you bring in a cat or dog, but now you are talking about bringing in a wild creature from the outdoors.
Just like cats and dogs, these animals will need to be vaccinated in order to not pose a health risk to anyone in the home. That being said, raccoons are nocturnal creatures. And they are known for carrying rabies and parasites.
If you, your child, or your other animals are bitten by one of these creatures, you’ll immediately have to get in touch with a healthcare professional and seek further help. If you come into contact with a raccoon’s droppings that haven’t been vaccinated, you’ll want to seek out medical attention.
A raccoon without vaccination is like a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. Even with the proper vaccinations, there is always still a cause for concern.
More often than not, regulatory agencies do not accept most vaccines as effective for these creatures. This means that if you are bitten by a raccoon, they’ll likely want to euthanize the animal. Raccoon droppings also pose the risk of roundworm, which can actually spread to humans since the egg spores are airborne and thus easily inhaled.
Simply put, it will be a challenge in of itself to find a vet that is willing to take on a raccoon and provide it with the proper vaccinations.
These animals need proper and constant maintenance, which only adds to the overall difficulty of the situation. It should also be noted that raccoons are highly vulnerable to fleas. If you are going to bring a raccoon into the home, it will pay to give serious thoughts to these health concerns before doing so.
Given the fact that raccoons are wild animals, there aren’t many professional vets that are willing to take them on as charges. Add the increased monitoring and maintenance that they are going to need, and it just makes the situation all that more volatile.
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Understanding Eating Habits
Bringing a raccoon into the home and getting it properly vaccinated is just half the battle. The other half is going to be feeding it. Most raccoons are used to foraging through the garbage and will likely continue this proclivity until they are broken from it.
It won’t be uncommon to walk out to your garage or shed to find your garbage strewn all over your yard.
If you want to provide a raccoon with proper nutrition, you’ll need to give him vegetables, fruits, insects, protein-rich foods, and dog food might even be a good alternative for some. If you are able to find a vet that is willing to help with the vaccinations then you’ll be able to turn to him or her for more advice about nutritional requirements.
One thing is for sure though. And, that is that raccoons are quite messy. They are not only naturally messy eaters, but for some reason, they like to dunk their food in water before having at it. This means that you’ll also need to provide them with a large dunking bowl and change the water on a regular basis or it’ll get foul and smelly.
Also, you’ll likely want to place it in a location that is easy to clean because there will be a mess following dinner. The kitchen or bathroom is usually ideal locations for these types of proclivities.
[Related Article: Do Raccoons Hibernate?]
Consider The Law
Just because you decide that you want to adopt a neighborhood raccoon doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s okay. You always need to take the law into account first because it might, in fact, be illegal to take such an animal into the home in your state. In many states, owning one of these animals is illegal.
There are some states where it is considered legal, but they are also rules and regulations against the importation of these creatures, so that’ll be something else that you’ll need to consider along the way.
If the law says that you can keep the raccoon legally in your home, you might also want to consider all the regulations regarding ownership. The law will likely be pretty stringent if the creature gets loose and is reported roaming around. And, this is not to even mention the fact if he bites someone.
As was mentioned above, keeping these animals in a cage is out of the question so they are going to need a place where they can roam outside. Somewhere that will make them feel adventurous enough as to where they won’t want to run off. Also, somewhere that will prevent them from running in the event that they get a wild hair.
Your very best and safest option would be to dedicate an entire room to the animal. Fill it with toys and structures that it can climb on and interact with. When a raccoon can’t satisfy its natural curiosity it is likely to want to roam or even become aggressive.
Of course, this is something that you’ll want to nail down right away if you plan on becoming a legit owner.
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