Is Your Pet Raccoon A Teddy Bear Or A Terror?
A pet raccoon can be a pet in name only. If you have one, what you may have is a wild raccoon that not only has learned to tolerate you, but in many respects has learned how to control you. If you have a pet cat, you can leave it in the house all day, or even for a couple of days, provided it has food, water, and a litter box. It's a bit different with an indoor dog, since it has to be let out every few hours, unless you have built a doggie door for it. Goldfish, hamsters, and a few other pet animals are either pretty good at behaving themselves, or are in a cage or aquarium and have no other choice.
Bad Raccoon - If you leave a pet raccoon alone in your house for a day, about the only thing you can count upon once you return is that the exterior of the house will probably look the same as when you left. The interior may look quite different.
About the only time a pet raccoon may truly be a pet is during the first few months of its life, assuming you found or purchased it when it was a very small kit. It will be affectionate and cuddly, just like a little kitten. Unlike a little kitten however, it may well continue to scratch at you long after a kitten has been taught not to.
As it grows older, your pet raccoon may become fiercely protective of you. It will try to keep the other household pets from being near you, and may even try to keep other family members away from you. While it still treat you with some affection, it eventually may do so only if you constantly have treats with you to give it. Forget to give your pet raccoon a treat and it will eventually find a way to get even.
When we have a toddler in the house, we quickly learn to child-proof certain things with the idea of protecting both the child and our possessions. If you bring home a baby raccoon, you'll soon have to raccoon-proof your house, which compared to child-proofing can be a daunting task. Raccoons can easily get to places where a toddler cannot get to. They can get to places you cannot get to, and worst of all, they can get into places where you never dreamed they could go.
Raccoon like to collect items. They will either put those items in places you can't find them, or in places you'd rather not find them, the toilet bowl being a prime example. Once the raccoon has learned to flush the toilet, which it probably will learn to do eventually, some items it collects will be lost forever.
What you'll eventually discover is that your cuddly little pet has become a 35 pound terror that not only excepts to have the run of the house, but for all practical purposes has it, unless it is kept permanently in a cage. About the time you think you're due for a vacation to get away from it all, you look through the yellow pages and discover there are no boarding kennels for raccoons. You might just as well have a pet elephant you want to have boarded. For that matter, you'd probably have more luck with the elephant.
Good Raccoon - All of this may sound bad, but there is at least some truth to it. Even well-mannered pet raccoons, and such creatures do exist, have a tendency to bite if scared, even if they love you. Aside from that, there are those that do indeed make great pets and can even be trained to get along with other animals in the household.
If you're bound and determined to share your home with one of these creatures (bear in mind they have a lifespan of around 12 years), you first need to determine if it is legal to keep a raccoon as a pet in the city or state where you live. In some places it isn't. If it is legal, the next step would be to find a raccoon breeder, someone who is very familiar with the animal, and knowledgeable as to how to raise and care for one. If you're fortunate enough to find a breeder, the next step will be to find a veterinarian who is willing to treat raccoons. Don't suddenly surprise your vet by showing up one day with your new pet raccoon and expect prompt service.
Even if the raccoon you end up with turns out to be a pure joy to have as a companion, you still need to be prepared to make quite a commitment in time and expense when having one as a pet. Raccoons need lots of attention, and lots of supervision as well. If you get one and it's not working out, you can't just set it free. Chances are it won't survive very long. If you plan to get a pet raccoon, first make a list of all the reasons not to get one, and give the items on that list some careful consideration.