Raccoons can be vicious, carry rabies, and they tend to be more on the aggressive side. They are naturally curious, creatures designed to explore their environments.
Can You Get a Pet Raccoon?
They're also almost as intelligent as apes (if not just as intelligent). Yes, this means that raccoons are smarter than cats & dogs- combined!
Raccoons are also quite cute, viciousness aside. This begs the question: can we domesticate raccoons?
Some people in the United States of America currently have pet raccoons. Technically yes, you can get a pet raccoon, however it isn't recommended.
Raccoons do not yet make great pets from what we know, so it's best to stick to what's safe. Also, it may not be legal in your state or country, so you should check the legalities of owning a pet raccoon before considering the purchase.
If raccoon's abilities could be controlled, they would be a great addition to humanity. Unfortunately, they don't like following orders like dogs.
Raccoons are excellent climbers, and their fingers have fine motor skills like humans. If a small object went in between a small area, a raccoon could retrieve it. Likewise, if an object was stuck too high for a human to grab, the raccoon could presumably climb up and get it.
Unfortunately, raccoons don't take commands as effectively as dogs. They can be conditioned to perform certain actions, but they have no desire to obey their masters like dogs do.
Why Raccoons Don't Make Good Pets
There are several reasons why raccoons wouldn't make a good pet. So far as we know, videos claiming otherwise are rare occurrences; the chances of something going wrong as of 2018 is too high to risk trying to get a pet raccoon.
Raccoons Aren't Social Creatures
Raccoons are not typically social creatures. Humans & dogs are examples of social creatures; we prefer to be in groups, and we interact with other species.
Dogs have a drive to please their master as well, it is simply in their genetics! Because of this humans & dogs make great combinations. A bond can be created between humans & dogs, whereas a bond can't so easily be created between raccoons & humans.
Raccoons Can Only Be Conditioned
Dogs can be trained to an extent, but they also have love & connection driving them to be good. Raccoons do not have such feelings for humans, and so would have to be conditioned in every way possible.
There are several videos online of raccoons performing a wide variety of tasks such as not attacking humans, hoping on a bicycle, picking up a broom, etc. This is merely conditioning.
Conditioning is the act of rewarding a creature's behavior with a reward. A human would for example reward a certain behavior with some food, and then the raccoon will be more likely to repeat it when it is hungry. This is how raccoons can appear to be "trained," when in reality they aren't interacting with us, but simply doing things for a reward.
Raccoons Are Aggressive
Even "domesticated" raccoons are instinctively aggressive. A healthy, fit raccoon may not be aggressive to start, but they can turn that way in a moment's notice.
If they feel threatened, are hungry, or sick even slightly raccoons turn extremely aggressive. This is true even if you've owned the raccoon for years!
Remember, raccoons do NOT create bonds with humans, so as soon as they get hungry the "bond" you thought you had goes away. Anything goes for a raccoon's food.
Raccoons Are Curious Explorers
Raccoons instinctively have a drive to explore, and not remain in one place. Forcing them to remain in your home is questionable morally speaking.
Dogs for example want to stay around their master (you), and cats create territory (so they will gladly claim the home as "theirs"). Raccoons aren't so territorial; instead they are creatures of the world.
Raccoons will want to escape, and they have the ability to do so! Raccoons are almost as smart as apes (some scientists think just as smart) which means they're smarter than cats & dogs.
They can open your fridge, door, locks, and more. They have a wonderful ability to climb. They're highly creative and intelligent for how smart they are, so they will annoy you most likely.
The raccoon may try to escape, raid your fridge, or tear up your furniture. It would take a great deal of conditioning to get the raccoon to do otherwise, but even then they can change without notice.
Raccoons Aren't Great Pets
In short, we don't think that it would be wise to get a pet raccoon. It is morally questionable, it may not even be legal in your state or country, and it most likely won't work out. It's too much a risk to you, your property, and your children or other pets.
Some people appear to have made it work, but they are not showing the bad moments. Raccoons are inherently aggressive, and a "rabies vector species." It is best to let them stay in the wild and do their own thing.
Thanks for reading!
Wildlife x Team International