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Do Raccoons Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Raccoons are famously native to North America, easily recognizable with mask-like markings on their faces. Many people think these animals are adorable because of their cute faces and how they use their little paws like we humans use our hands. But do they make good pets? The answer is no.

While pet raccoons are uncommon, over the years, some Americans have kept these animals as pets including past US President Calvin Coolidge who kept a pair as pets while he resided in the White House. Even though they are cute animals, most animal experts do not recommend keeping raccoons as pets because these animals are known to be unpredictable and full of trouble.

leaves divider leafWhy Racoons Don’t Make Good Pets?

Raccoons are mischievous and unpredictable by nature and they can be aggressive. Even if you think you’ve tamed a wild raccoon, that animal can turn on you at any moment and deliver a wicked bite with its sharp teeth. A raccoon also has long sharp claws that can do serious damage to a human if the animal strikes out.An interesting thing about raccoons is that these animals have varying temperaments. Some can be friendly toward people while others can be skittish and aggressive. It’s simply not worth the risk to keep a raccoon as a pet because you’ll never know for sure if the raccoon you tame will turn on you and attack at a moment’s notice.

racoon walking
Image Credit: Pixabay

Raccoons Can Carry Rabies and Other Diseases

Raccoons can carry rabies which is a fatal virus to both animals and people if left untreated. These masked creatures can also carry and transmit other diseases including distemper, salmonella, and leptospirosis. But that’s not all! These animals can be carriers of fleas, lice, roundworms, and other parasites that can make humans very sick.

Raccoons Can’t Be Completely Domesticated

Unlike easily domesticated dogs, raccoons are not social and are animals that exhibit hostile and instinctual behaviors toward humans and other animals. While dogs easily bond with humans, raccoons are unable to form close emotional connections to humans even after several breeding attempts. Many people have tried to breed raccoons over the years to try to make them good pets. However, these attempts have failed time and time again. Regardless of how many generations of raccoons that have been bred, these animals always fail to form deep connections to humans like dogs or even cats. By nature, raccoons are independent, curious, aggressive, and unpredictable.

racoon in the garbage
Image Credit: Jillian Cain Photography, Shutterstock

Raccoons Can’t Be Trained Like Dogs

Surely, you’ve seen lots of ads for dog training courses online. But have you ever run across a raccoon training course when surfing the web? Of course not! Raccoons are not domesticated animals that can be trained like dogs, it’s that simple!

Raccoons are wild animals with wild animal instincts. Even though some people have taken in baby raccoons and trained them to use a litter box, these animals grow up to be independent, unpredictable adult raccoons that cannot be trained like dogs.

It’s Illegal to Keep Raccoons as Pets in Most US States

It’s illegal in most states to keep raccoons as pets. As of this writing, there are only 15 states that allow raccoons to be kept as pets. Many of the states that allow pet ownership of raccoons require wild animal permits. There may also be other laws in place pertaining to keeping raccoons as pets so check with your state if you’re dead-set on having a pet raccoon.

leaves divider leafConclusion

You don’t see raccoons for sale in pet stores for one very good reason: Raccoons do not make good pets. These animals cannot be trained like dogs and they will never be truly docile.

The best place for a raccoon is in its natural habitat which is in the woods. Even though young raccoons can be playful and docile, when these animals reach adulthood, they can be very unpredictable and aggressive. Don’t forget that there are very sharp teeth behind that masked face and a raccoon won’t hesitate for a second to use those teeth if it feels threatened, even if you think you’ve tamed that raccoon!


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.