Here is a happy owner of a baby pet raccoon.
Raccoons are super cute. Alas, most of the time, they do not make good pets, for the following reasons:
- When they sexually mature at 6 months of age, they can suddenly become very aggressive, and attack.
- They are actually extraordinarily messy animals.
- They can carry several diseases that people can catch (see below).
Also, it may be against the law in your state to keep a raccoon as a pet. But I don't know for sure, and I also don't know the likelihood of anyone actually bothering to prosecute you over it.
What if you really insist on a baby raccoon pet? I guess a wildlife trapper like myself is the best bet, but I personally won't help you. I give all of my baby raccoons to wildlife rehab specialists, who inoculate them against diseases and relocate them into the wild, where they belong.
Here's an email I got from a reader, who kept a baby pet raccoon:
Hi, my name is Lisa and we recently had a young raccoon...He was a male and we called him Bandit...We are not sure of his age but we guessed him to be around 5-7 months old. We got him from family, they had gotten him from an animal control worker and even said that the worker had given the raccoon a rabies shot because the worker knew that the family had small children. They had him for a month or so and then gave him to another family member..While he was with them, he got bit by their dog, they let him eat cigarette butts and if he bit at them they hurt him so that's where we come in. I love animals and I have taught my girls to treat all animals with love and respect...We were going to raise him until the age that he could be let go...We have never dealt with a raccoon so we were learning as we went...He would growl and snap at us if he got into something and we tried to take it away..he never broke our skin. My oldest daughter (16 yrs) was his main caretaker...he loved her and you could tell..We had him since June of this year(around 3 months) About 1 week ago, he acted like he couldn't have a bowel movement...we fed him cat-food, different kinds of fruit, raisins and our food- anyway, I gave him a child's enema since no vet would see him-I said I was learning as I went along- He was stiffening up and drooling, falling over, it was so sad, after the enema..he seemed to be ok. He had some bowel movements and then one time it looked like string or twine in it...it was not a worm..and another time it looked like it had cardboard in it..I fed him more fruit and gave him mineral oil..but this Friday morning(7am) he went down..seizures, stiffening up, drooling, screaming out..I didn't know what to do...other than try to comfort him as best as I could...He died this Saturday at 3:10 pm...I have to tell you I called every vet I could find...all they wanted to tell me was rabies...I got very worried about this due to the fact that we have cats and kittens and of course they scratch you so I was very scared when I heard that you can get rabies through a scratch..I called everyone from vets to clinics to get information on this and because of the holiday..they were to busy..I was told to put him in the freezer until Tuesday..this is driving me and my daughters crazy(Tuesday they need his head to test him) I wanted to know how the babies get rabies..can the mother pass it to the young...Do you think it sounds like Bandit had rabies..I just don't know what to do......if not, we wanted to bury him...Thank you for your time.. Lisa....P.S I cant get any info on the animal control worker to verify the so-called rabies shot...I guess his job is more important
Wow, I'm not an expert on raccoon diseases. But a mother can't pass rabies on to the young, it doesn't work that way. Rabies is only contagious in the final stages, after the animal is doomed. They go down very quickly. Can a state agency test for rabies? I guess look it up online.
Here is raccoon disease information:
Rabies is the most commonly cited disease associated with raccoons. Never approach a raccoon that looks sick, confused, or that is moving awkwardly. Rabid raccoons may be either lethargic or walking erratically, perhaps in circles. It's also common for the hind legs to become paralyzed in the later stages, or paralytic stages. A raccoon might also exhibit aggression or foaming at the mouth. Raccoons don't go about carrying rabies all the time and transmitting them to everyone, as many people seem to think. They can only pass on rabies during the last week of life, when actual symptoms are present.
Canine Distemper is an even more common raccoon disease, it's fatal to raccoons, and some symptoms are very similar to rabies. Pets, such as dogs, are very vulnerable to this disease, so be careful to prevent a Fido-Rocky encounter. The early stages of distemper mimic rabies, and it's important that domestic dogs and cats have full vaccinations and are checked for worms once a year, even if there's no raccoon presence nearby.
As stated above, the droppings of raccoons can contain raccoon roundworm. This parasitic worm can and does infect humans. The egg spores in the raccoon droppings are light and can become airborne, and people can breathe them in and become infected. Infection of humans can lead to larval parasite migration to the central nervous system. These egg spores can live for years as dry pods. This is a very dangerous to humans, especially children, and a much more important and realistic threat than rabies.
Raccoons also carry Giardia lamblia, a protozoan causing diarrhea associated with ingesting food or water contaminated by raccoon excrement. Trypanosoma cruzi is associated with raccoon excrement as are Rickettsia rickettsii, Leptospirosis, and Salmonella. They are also host to a number of parasites, such as lice and fleas. Oftentimes people with raccoons in the attic will notice that their pets (and in a few cases themselves) suddenly have fleas that they never had before. I often get fleas on me when I enter attics that hold raccoons. Here is a photo example of raccoon domestication in an urban area.