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Pet Raccoon Legal States 2024

Pet Raccoon Legal States 2024

Raccoons are considered to be exotic animals and, therefore, have a separate set of laws regarding ownership of them. It is legal to own a pet raccoon in the following 19 states: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Is it Legal to Own a Pet Raccoon?

When considering whether or not to adopt a pet raccoon, is vital to make sure raccoons are legal to own in one's state of residence. It is illegal to keep raccoons as pets in many states. In states that do allow pet ownership of a raccoon, a wild animal permit is usually required. In addition to these laws, also look for regulations for raccoon owners. These regulations often answer questions like, "What happens if my raccoon scratches or bites someone?" These questions are important because as raccoons are both exotics and widely regarded as wild animals, they are more likely to be taken and euthanized if they exhibit problematic behavior.

In the states where owning a pet raccoon is legal, those seeking to adopt a pet raccoon should check for additional regulations for owning a raccoon. These regulations vary greatly by state. For example, Vermont and Arkansas do not require a permit to own a pet raccoon, but most other states do. Moreover, a pet raccoon in Arkansas must be taken "by hand" from the wild, whereas in Tennessee only a captive-born raccoon may be kept as a pet. Finally, many counties, municipalities, and local authorities (such as HOAs) may have additional regulations or restrictions. It is important to research local laws before attempting to adopt a pet raccoon.

Pet Raccoon Behavior

Raccoons are more challenging to care for than most more common pets, such as dogs or cats. Raccoons often resemble a puppy or ferret, being both affectionate and playful. They are very intelligent animals and have good memory and problem-solving abilities. However, raccoons also tend to be mischievous and unpredictable, which is one reason it is generally advised to not have them as pets. Additionally, raccoons need a lot of space to explore, climb, and roam, so they do poorly in cages or small bedrooms. They also tend to be destructive, and are known to knock over items and gnaw on furniture, bedsheets, and clothing. Raccoons are also quite dextrous with their front paws, and can often break through latches and other secured areas if they so desire, a skill which contributes to the raccoon's reputation as a "masked bandit".

Raising a Pet Raccoon

If one's state permits pet raccoons, the first step in adopting is to find a reputable raccoon breeder. It is inadvisable, and in some states illegal, to bring a wild raccoon into one's home (though admittedly it appear to be the only way to acquire a pet raccoon in Arkansas). Potential raccoon owners will want to child-proof/raccoon-proof their home and set up a litter box. Like children, raccoons are curious and playful and also destructive—especially when bored—so in addition to preparing the house, potential owners should plan to spend ample time playing with and engaging with their raccoon. It is highly recommended that raccoons also have a safe and sizable outdoor enclosure where they can play and spend time without constant supervision. This enclosure must have a roof to protect against inclement weather.

Raccoons are messy eaters, and most adult raccoons require two meals per day. The raccoon diet is quite varied. They can eat both meat and plants, and poultry, fish, eggs, insects, vegetables, and fruits are all recommended for them. A dish of water must be available to them at all times, and it is wise to consult a veterinarian for advice on fulfilling their dietary requirements.

Pet Raccoon Legal States 2024

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Legal Status
Permit Required
Purchase From USDA Licensed Breeder
ArkansasLegalNoNot required
Raccoon must be taken "by hand" from the wild. Raccoon must remain in the owner’s custody. Unneute...
Inspection required
FloridaLegalYes - no costRequired
IllinoisLegalYes - $25.50 annuallyRequired
IndianaLegalYes - $20 annuallyRequired
MichiganLegalYes - $45 every 3 yearsRequired
NebraskaLegalYes - $33Required
Permit must be obtained before purchase of animal.
New JerseyLegalYes - twoRequired
New Jersey has no USDA-licensed breeders, so an import permit is required as well as a captive game ...
OhioLegalYes - $25Required
Owner may legally keep up to four captive-bred raccoons.
OklahomaLegalYes - $48 annuallyRequired
Pre-purchase inspection by a game warden required.
Rhode IslandLegalNo
South CarolinaLegalYes
South DakotaLegalYesNot required
TennesseeLegalYes - $31 annuallyRequired
Raccoon must be captive-born.
Permit from the Department of Fish and Game
VermontLegalNoNot required
West VirginiaLegalYes
WyomingLegalYesNot required
Import prohibited by Animal Damage Management Board Rules.
New HampshireIllegal
New MexicoIllegal
New YorkIllegal
North CarolinaIllegal
North DakotaIllegal
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