What Do Raccoons Eat? Surprising Facts About Raccoon Eating Habits

what do raccoons eat

What Raccoons Really Eat: Fascinating Insights into Their Diets

Raccoons are a common sight in many parts of the world, yet their dietary habits are often a mystery to most of us. In this article, we will explore what raccoons eat and how their diets affect their behavior.

Raccoons are one of the most common animals in North America. You can also find them in parts of Europe and Asia. These nocturnal creatures are easily recognizable by their characteristic black mask, five slender fingers, sharp claws and bushy, ringed tail.

Raccoons are curious and widely known for their intelligence and resourcefulness in natural environments, which shows itself in particular in the raccoon’s diet.

raccoon walking
Image by CuteAnimalLover23 from Pixabay

What do raccoons eat?

What raccoons eat depends on the time of year and how much food they can find in their habitat. In the spring and summer, raccoons eat a lot of insects, berries, fruits, and vegetables. Whereas in the fall, they feast on acorns and other nuts.

And in the winter, it will be mostly meat, including small mammals like rodents, but they also eat dead animals if they can find them.

While this is what most adult raccoons eat during the seasons, their diet isn’t limited to this. Being omnivores, they can digest a wide variety of plants and animals. Also, your typical raccoon is an opportunist.

They eat whenever and whatever they can! Curious as they are, they will go through your garbage bins or can be found stealing your pet’s food or from the bird feeder. As primarily nocturnal animals, this will usually take place at night time.

raccoon
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Life of a raccoon

Raccoons typically live to be around 2-3 years old in the wild but can live up to 20 years in captivity. These animals are relatively solitary creatures, only coming together to mate. Female raccoons give birth to litters of 3-5 baby raccoons, called “kits,” in the springtime.

Sadly only about 50% of all raccoon babies survive their first year. Raccoons nurse their offspring for about four months. After being weaned off their mother’s milk, young raccoons start eating solids mostly but love to wash and soak their food in the water of rivers or ponds.

All raccoons hey love water in general, and their favorite foods can be found there, too. Crayfish, frogs, fish, snails, and clams are among their favorites.

What food do raccoons choose to eat? The answer is a little bit of everything! These clever and resourceful wild animals will eat just about almost anything they can get their hands on.

baby raccoon
Image by christian lanctot from Pixabay

When Can Baby Raccoons Feed Themselves?

Baby raccoons are dependent on their mothers for food and care. They start eating solid foods around eight weeks old, but they continue nursing until they are about 16 weeks old. Even though baby raccoons eat food at this point, they are still cared for and not weaned off the female raccoons for a while.

What Do Raccoons Eat in the Wild?

Raccoons are omnivores. They eat both plants and animals. They feed on a variety of foods in the wild, including fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, insects, frogs, fish, and small mammals. Their opportunistic nature enables them to adapt to different environments and food sources.

Foods To Avoid Feeding Raccoons

Feeding raccoons processed, sugary, and high-fat foods can be detrimental to their health. It’s also important to avoid feeding them toxic foods such as chocolate, avocado, and grapes.

Do Raccoons Eat Trash?

Although raccoons are often associated with rummaging through trash cans, they prefer to eat natural foods in the wild. However, they are attracted to human food sources because they are easily accessible. Ultimately, wild raccoons want to survive, and as true omnivores, they eat whatever they can find.

Raccoons Biology And Habits

Raccoons are fascinating nocturnal creatures that possess incredible sensory abilities. They have excellent vision and hearing that helps them navigate their environment at night. Their sense of smell is particularly important in finding food sources. Raccoons can smell food from a considerable distance away, up to one mile in some cases, which enables them to locate food sources that are not visible to the naked eye.

Raccoons are also adept climbers with sharp claws that help them scale trees and fences to access food. Their climbing ability enables them to reach food sources that other animals may not be able to get to, like bird nests or fruit trees. Additionally, raccoons are strong swimmers who can swim long distances in search of food.

It is essential to remember that raccoons can be both playful and destructive. They can cause significant damage to homes, gardens, and other structures while scavenging for food.

Moreover, raccoons can transmit diseases such as rabies and all kinds of parasites. Minimizing contact with raccoons and avoiding approaching or handling them is crucial. If raccoons are causing problems on your property, it’s best to seek assistance from a professional wildlife removal service to ensure their safe and humane removal.

Safely Solving Raccoon Disputes

It’s crucial to handle raccoon problems safely and humanely. Using deterrents such as motion-activated sprinklers or bright lights can keep raccoons away. Securing trash cans and other potential food sources is also essential.

baby raccoons
Image by christian lanctot from Pixabay

Is It Safe To Feed Wild Raccoons?

Feeding wild raccoons is generally not recommended. When raccoons become accustomed to receiving human-provided food, they may become dependent on it and alter their natural behavior, causing them to lose their ability to forage for another food source in the wild. This can disrupt the balance of local ecosystems and increase resource competition.

Additionally, feeding raccoons can increase the risk of disease transmission between raccoons and humans. Lastly, raccoons that are fed regularly by humans may become habituated to people and lose their fear of them, which can cause conflicts and danger for both humans and raccoons.

For these reasons, it is best to let raccoons find natural food sources in the wild and avoid feeding them human food.

Do They Really Like Garbage or Dirty Food?

Although raccoons are often seen rummaging through garbage cans, this does not necessarily mean they prefer it. Raccoons are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever food is available to them in their environment.

In urban areas with limited natural food sources, raccoons may turn to human-provided food such as garbage. However, their natural diet in the wild includes a variety of foods like fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, and fish.

It’s important to remember that raccoons are adaptable creatures and will consume whatever food is easily accessible to them. It’s best to avoid leaving out the garbage or other human-provided food sources that may attract raccoons To ensure their health and prevent conflicts with humans.

Is It Safe To Have A Pet Raccoon?

Owning a pet raccoon is illegal in many states and is not recommended. Raccoons are wild animals and can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Which Are The Top 10 Foods Raccoons Eat?

The top 10 foods that raccoons eat include fruits, nuts, insects, frogs, fish, small mammals, eggs, birdseed, pet food, human scraps, and edibles found in unsecured garbage.

Are There Any Foods They Can’t Eat?

Raccoons can eat a wide variety of foods, but they should avoid foods like chocolate, avocado, and grapes because it is toxic to them. Ingesting toxic foods can cause serious health problems in raccoons.

In general, raccoons should have a well-balanced diet and avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, or processed ingredients because these foods can lead to health conditions such as obesity and dental problems.

In order to protect raccoons, it is essential that you remember that they are wild animals that would benefit from being left alone to forage for the foods they need in the wild.

Where do raccoons sleep during the day?

Raccoons are known for being primarily nocturnal creatures, meaning they are active at night and tend to sleep during the day. During the daytime, raccoons seek out safe and sheltered areas to rest and sleep.

They typically look for places like hollow trees, abandoned burrows, or hidden spaces in buildings like attics or crawl spaces. Raccoons can also use other areas, like brush piles or rock crevices, that provide cover from the sun and predators. Due to their adaptable nature, raccoons can find suitable locations to sleep in a wide range of habitats.

Which Animals Eat Raccoons?

While raccoons have few natural predators, they can be preyed upon by coyotes, foxes, and large birds of prey.

In conclusion, understanding the raccoon diet is essential in gaining a better understanding of their behavior and establishing a safe coexistence with them.

In order to solve raccoon problems, it is important to avoid feeding raccoons and to take precautions to secure potential food sources.

For even more information on raccoons, make sure to check out our guide to raccoon removal if you like!