Raccoons are those cute cuddly looking masked bandits that so many of us see after dark on the side of the road or even in our own backyards. Many people are very misinformed about these furry little creatures. Not all raccoons have rabies. This is one very common myth. They can contract rabies in the wild but the chances are no greater that any other wild animal. Another myth is that they always wash their food before eating, which is not true either.
Raccoons inhabit a very wide range of places throughout the northern United States. They hibernate in the winter and can grow to be an average of 25 pounds (although captive raccoons tend to be much larger than wild ones). They can live an average of 10 years in the wild and slightly longer in captivity.
Having a Raccoon
There are some pet stores and private pet stores that sell raccoons as pets. Please read on before deciding to buy one of these cute little bundles.
Raccoons are wild animals. Breeders may say that they sell "domesticated" raccoons, but it just is not so. Some animals can be domesticated, but at this point in time raccoons are not. They are wild by nature and can be very hard to handle, I know from experience. Many people purchase one and then find out that it is to much for them to handle and there is nowhere for these animals to go unless you find a rescue that will take him. Otherwise they are turned lose into the wild where they are likely to die.
Even raccoons that are very young (I had to feed mine with an eyedropper) can be extremely hard to "tame". The bigger and the older they get the more of a handful they become. They are very curios by nature and will investigate every inch of his new home. They are also climbers by nature and they will climb on your furniture, curtains, countertops and anything else that they can which often leads to damage being done. They will be very destructive to your home and your belongings. Feeding time can be a disastrous mess also. Since they are nocturnal (daytime sleepers) to leave them roam your house at night unattended will be damaging to your home. I tried caging mine at night to keep him from causing mischief, but then all he did was bang in the cage and cry all night as I tried to sleep. (My raccoon was a rescue by the way, he was not bought for a pet)
Raccoons can also be very unpredictable in their behavior. They can be very aggressive or become aggressive. They have been known to turn on even the most loving owners. During mating season the aggression will surely arise or severely worsen. They have an instinct to mate and since they cannot they will become extremely agitated. Mating season lasts approximately 4 months and occurs every year.
The raccoon also has strict dietary needs and become very over weight and unhealthy by being kept as a pet. They need a very large amount of space for excursive and for most people this is just not possible.
You will also need to find a vet for new friend, which can be a chore in itself. Many vets will not treat a raccoon because of the chance of rabies, Distemper (an airborne virus that is common in raccoons) and roundworm (also common in raccoons). Their is no approved rabies vaccine for raccoons, therefore if he should bite someone, even on accident, the results are pretty harsh. Chances are the raccoon will be destroyed and the bite victim will have to endure the painful rabies shots as a precaution. A pretty unhappy ending for both "victims".
Raccoons are wild animals that belong in the wild. The problem is that once being held captive, their chances of survival can be slim in the event that you simply can not handle the animal any longer and decide to turn him out. I have a tremendous love for these wonderful little creatures and I will admit that I have 2 that come into my backyard every night to see if I am going to give them any bread (which they love) or extra food scraps, but the fact is a raccoon is much prettier to look in the woods where it belongs than in someone's home.
If you still feel that you want one for a pet, please educate yourself thoroughly and be prepared. You will have a long road ahead. Visit the links that I have listed below to find out more information on raccoons if you have not found all you were looking for here.
Raccoons from The Gable's Raccoon World - raccoons, pictures, resources, tips and links from a raccoon and wildlife rehabber
The World Wide Raccoon Web
Raccoon, an Encarta Encyclopedia Article Titled Raccoon
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