Raccoon Behavior & Habits

Raccoon Behavior & Habits

Raccoons are wild animals native to North America and can be found in most states in the United States. They are most known for their mischievous and reckless behavior. Here are some common behaviors and habits of raccoons:

  • Raccoons are primarily nocturnal. This means that they are most active during the night. Raccoons also have excellent night vision that helps them easily find food and navigate through the woods. Although raccoons are nocturnal, it isn’t unheard of to see them during the day. A common myth associated with raccoons is that if you see one during the day it is rabid, although, that can be true it isn’t always the case.


  • Raccoons are smart and curious creatures. Raccoons are known for their intelligence and curiosity. They are skilled at investigating their surroundings, and their dexterous paws help them manipulate objects and open containers to find food. Raccoons have been observed in various studies of their excellent problem-solving skills. Here’s a video from National Geographic showing their intelligence.


  • Raccoons' social behaviors tend to be solitary, however, they may form loose social groups or small family units around the mating season.


  • Raccoons typically build a den to sleep in and raise their young. Most raccoon dens are built in tree hollows, burrows, or under or inside building and home structures.


  • Due to raccoons' strong limbs and sharp claws, they are excellent climbers. Raccoons will often scale trees and vertical structures to find food or escape predators.


  • One super interesting habit of raccoons is that they are known to wash their food before they eat it. They are different arguments on why they have adopted this unique habit. Some say it is because their sense of touch is so powerful it helps them determine what it is, whereas others say it’s to soften the food so it’s easier to consume.


  • One more habit of raccoons is that they enter a state of torpor during cold and harsh winters. Torpor is different than hibernation, instead of sleeping the whole winter, they still will wake up daily for food, but they may sleep for longer periods.


What Do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons are opportunistic feeders that consume a wide variety of foods. This can result in them digging through everything in your pantry, cleaning out your garden, and sorting through your trash if they have access.

Raccoons' diets typically depend on their habitat, seasonal availability, and the food sources they have access to at that moment. Since raccoons are omnivores, and eat both meat and plants, there isn’t much food they won’t eat.

Here are some common foods raccoons eat:

  • Fruits— such as berries, apples, grapes, melons
  • Vegetables— such as corn, peppers, green beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Insects—such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, worms
  • Small Animals—mice, rats, frogs, fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Bird Eggs
  • Garbage
  • Human food
  • Dead animals
  • Plants