It’s legal to have a pet raccoon in the following states: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Texas, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Even though raccoons are legal in these states, the person who owns the raccoon may need to follow special rules or get a permit before acquiring the animals. For example, in Arkansas, a person can’t own more than five raccoons at a time. In Indiana and other states, the owner must have a wild animal permit. In North Carolina, a veterinarian must approve the animal before it’s brought into the state. Ultimately, it’s best to check with local and state governments before adopting any wild or exotic animal as a pet.
Dangers of Owning a Raccoon
If you live in a place where it’s legal to own a pet raccoon, and you are thinking about getting one, there are many other things to consider. First, most experts advise against owning any type of wildlife, including raccoons. One reason is how susceptible they are to rabies. Many veterinarians won’t vaccinate wild animals, and it can be difficult to find a vet who will even see a raccoon. Raccoons are also at risk for intestinal worms, distemper, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, salmonella and other diseases that can pass to humans and other animals.
Finally, a raccoon’s behavior may prevent you from wanting to own one. They have a mischievous nature and can be extremely destructive. They’re messy, they can open doors, they often escape from their homes and they’re nocturnal, so they’re often up at night while everyone else is sleeping. Raccoons also like to bite, and once they reach sexual maturity, they may become aggressive and even attack their owners.
Other Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet Raccoon
If you do get a pet raccoon, it is recommended to buy one from a breeder. Never attempt to raise one that you found in the wild. Instead, take it to a wildlife rehabilitation center in your area instead. Make sure you find a veterinarian that is willing to vaccinate and care for your raccoon. You’ll also need to make sure your home is safe for the animal, which may mean locking cabinet doors, keeping chemicals locked up and keeping your trash out of reach. Consider other pets and children in the home — could the raccoon pose a danger to them?
Where Pet Raccoons Live
Raccoons can’t live in cages for extended periods of time, so the raccoon will likely roam around your house as cats and dogs do. They’ll spend their time awake playing, climbing, exploring and getting into whatever they can find. The more space you have in your home, the better. The raccoon needs toys and an outdoor place to play that's fully enclosed.
Feeding a Pet Raccoon
Raccoons need plenty of fresh water, and they like to dip their food into the water before they eat it, so you may find yourself changing the water multiple times throughout the day. Because they are omnivores, they’ll eat a variety of foods, including both plants and animals. Some raccoons eat dog food, as well as berries, fruit, vegetables and bugs. Obesity is a major health concern for raccoons, so it’s important to make sure they don’t eat too much.
In addition to obesity, raccoons are prone to other health issues. Like dogs and cats, they may end up with flea infestations. They’re also prone to internal parasites, many of which can be passed on to humans. Infections of the skin and urinary tract are also common.