How to Legally Own a Pet Raccoon

While raccoons are one of the most common types of exotic animals to be kept as pets, many animal-control authorities still discourage the practice. Raccoons can certainly be domesticated, especially if they have been raised by humans from an early age, but they do have sharp teeth, and rabies is still quite common.

If you wish to own a raccoon legally, you should consult with the local authorities first.

Find out whether you can legally own a pet raccoon in your area by contacting the local animal control or wildlife authorities. Areas where rabies and distemper are common among raccoons may prohibit private ownership of such animals and the fines may be stiff if you ignore these health hazards.

Look for a veterinarian who will treat a raccoon before you try to own one legally. Even if you locate a vet that will give your pet raccoon vaccinations against rabies and distemper, you may still have difficulty in obtaining an exotic pet permit, since the effectiveness of these types of vaccines is still in question.

Choose a local breeder for your pet raccoon as opposed to trying to adopt one from the wild. A raccoon that has been raised and handled from an early age will probably show more affection for its owners.

Prepare yourself and others in your household for raccoon bites. This is the only defense mechanism that a raccoon uses, so it is used often. While a raccoon can be trained not to bite (by sternly telling it "no"), you may have to use caution and patience as well as some sturdy work gloves.

Place your pet raccoon in a habitat where it has plenty of space to forage, play and explore. An unsupervised raccoon can be fairly destructive, since it is a natural scavenger. By keeping your pet raccoon entertained with a stimulating enclosure, you can reduce the likelihood of property damage and escape.

Enjoy your raccoon's company. In general, raccoons are easy to feed (they eat everything) and have relatively few health risks. They also tend to get along with other pets, such as cats and dogs, especially if the raccoon has spent its entire life in captivity.