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 16 states: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
If you’re looking to own a pet raccoon, there are a few things you should know about them. They can be a lot like a puppy or ferret: affectionate and playful. They are very intelligent animals and have good memory and problem-solving abilities. However, raccoons tend to be mischievous and unpredictable, which is why it is generally advised to not have them as pets. Additionally, they need a lot of space to explore, climb, and roam, so they don’t do well in cages or small bedrooms. They also tend to be destructive, so you might find them eating your furniture, bedsheets, and clothing as well as knocking over items. As a bonus, raccoons can break through latches and other secured areas if they so desire, hence why they have a “masked bandit reputation.”
If you are set on owning a pet raccoon and your state permits it, you should first find a reputable raccoon breeder. Do not bring a wild raccoon into your home. You’ll want to child-proof your home and set up a litter box. Like children, raccoons are curious and playful and also destructive, so prepare your home accordingly and play with them accordingly. It is highly recommended that you have a large outdoor enclosure for your raccoon to play unsupervised. Make sure this enclosure has a roof. Raccoons eat both meat and plants. Poultry, fish, eggs, insects, vegetables, and fruits are recommended for them. Most adult raccoons require two meals per day but consult with a veterinarian for advice on feeding them. Make sure a dish of water is available to them at all times. Raccoons are messy eaters too.
Before you even consider getting a pet raccoon, you must make sure it is legal to own one in your state. It is illegal to keep pet 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?” Because raccoons are wild animals, they might be euthanized if your raccoon is problematic.
In the states where owning a pet raccoon is legal, those looking for a pet raccoon should look for additional regulations for owning a raccoon. For example, Vermont and Arkansas are the only states where a permit is not required to own a pet raccoon. However, a pet raccoon in Arkansas must be taken “by hand” from the wild, whereas in Tennessee only a captive-born raccoon can be kept as a pet. It is important to research your local laws before trying to keep a pet raccoon.