Raccoons may look cute and cuddly, but the truth is that they are wild animals. As such, it’s important for us humans to keep our distance and to have a healthy respect for the way things work in their unique world.
So, while it may be tempting to want to feed a raccoon, feeding a raccoon is actually a very bad idea.
What You Should Know About Wild Raccoons
Raccoons are small, nocturnal animals common in the United States.
Raccoons are a common sight in many areas of the U.S. during the day and they’re often seen rummaging through trash cans, dumpsters, and gardens at night. Raccoons are also known as “masked bandits” due to their black masks around their eyes and snouts, which gives them their unique, unmistakable look.
Raccoons are a member of the Procyonidae family, which includes all three species of raccoon living in North America today. These three species include the Eastern raccoon (Procyon lotor), the Western raccoon (Procyon lotor hesperus), and the Cozumel Island raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus).
Native to North America, raccoons can actually be found throughout most of the continent except for northern Canada, Alaska, and northern Minnesota. They can even be found as far south as Mexico City. These animals prefer to live near water sources such as lakes or rivers but will also inhabit urban areas where food is easy to find due to human activity.
Raccoons are wild animals that live in dens or burrows underground. They are omnivorous and will eat almost anything. As omnivores, raccoons consume both plants and animals, including fruits, nuts, and insects. They also scavenge human trash cans in search of food scraps
Most raccoons are docile creatures that do not want any trouble with humans or pets. However, there have been cases of raccoons attacking people when they feel threatened or cornered by humans.
And while raccoons may look cute and cuddly, It is best to avoid contact with wild raccoons because they carry several diseases like rabies that can be transmitted through bites or scratches from an infected animal.
Raccoons also carry fleas and ticks, which are parasitic insects that can be transferred to people and pets and lead to illnesses like typhoid fever or Lyme disease.
With all that noted, it can be a surprise to hear that anyone was tempted to feed a raccoon in the first place. But alas, it does happen – sometimes even by accident.
How You May Accidentally Be Feeding A Racoon
Feeding a raccoon can be dangerous for both people and the raccoon.
Almost all of us have seen a raccoon at some point or another. This is because raccoons are naturally brazen and will often approach areas where humans live and play in search of food.
These animals are especially brazen when they are young and even more so if they have not yet learned to fear people. Some wild raccoons will lose their fear of humans if they are handled or repeatedly fed by people. Once a raccoon loses its fear of humans, it can become dangerous and even aggressive.
So, if you’re not actively feeding a raccoon, why is a raccoon hanging around?
Raccoons are attracted to people because many of us unwittingly provide a food source for them. For example, some people may put out pet food or garbage for their cats or dogs and then leave the area unattended. This allows raccoons access to an easy meal which can lead to raccoons becoming bolder over time.
Other times, people will feed raccoons on purpose. Some people may see a family of raccoons sifting through the garbage and take pity on them, assuming these animals are starving.
Others people may simply enjoy having raccoons around and may end up feeding a raccoon for the fun of it.
The truth is, feeding any wild animal is almost always advised against unless it is done so by a professional expert. But why is it such a bad idea to go about feeding a raccoon? Keep reading to find out.
Top 10 Reasons Feeding A Racoon Is A Bad Idea
Feeding raccoons is not a good idea for a number of reasons.
Feeding a raccoon may seem harmless, but in reality, doing so can be dangerous not only for you but also for the raccoon you are trying to help.
Here are 10 reasons why you should avoid feeding a raccoon:
- Feeding A Racoon Causes The Animals To Become Habituated To People
- Feeding A Racoon Can Hinder The Racoon’s Survival In The Wild
- You Might Accidentally Poison The Racoon Or Make The Racoon Ill
- Feeding A Racoon Will Attract More Racoons
- Feeding A Racoon May Attract Other Wildlife As Well
- Feeding A Racoon Can Spread Disease
- Feeding A Racoon May Put The Racoon In Danger With Predators and Humans Alike
- Feeding A Racoon Can Put You and Your Family or Pets At Risk
- Feeding A Racoon Can Lead To Destruction Of Your Property
- Wild Racoons Do Not Need To Be Fed By Humans
Do you still need to be convinced that feeding a raccoon is a bad idea? Then keep reading. We are going to take a deeper dive into the above ten listed reasons as to why you should avoid feeding not only raccoons but all types of wildlife.
1. Feeding A Racoon Causes The Animals To Become Habituated To People
We should not want raccoons to become too used to people.
Feeding wild animals is a bad idea, and when it comes to raccoons this can be especially true. Feeding a raccoon causes the animals to become habituated to people. This is not good for the raccoon, it’s not good for you, and it’s not good for anyone else living in the area.
What does it mean when a wild animal becomes habituated?
When a raccoon becomes habituated, it means the raccoon has become accustomed to something, like being fed by humans. When this happens, it can lead to problems because the animal will no longer fear humans. While we often see fear as a negative thing, there is such a thing as a healthy fear – especially in the animal kingdom.
Wild raccoons should have a natural fear of people as this is safer for raccoons and for humans living in the same area. Feeding a raccoon or any other wild animal can cause them to lose their natural fear of people.
This means the animal could become more likely to approach you in search of food, which makes them more likely to get hurt or killed by cars when crossing roads, as well as getting into fights with other raccoons over territory and resources (like garbage).
2. Feeding A Racoon Can Hinder The Racoon’s Survival In The Wild
Raccoons may begin to rely on humans for food.
Though it is true that some people keep domesticated raccoons as pets, wild raccoons are not like pets at all. They are wild animals with unique needs and natural instincts to survive. Feeding a raccoon can be harmful to it, as well as to you, your family, and other humans in the area.
If a raccoon becomes dependent on humans for food, it could lose its natural instinct to find food on its own. This could lead to the raccoon having an inability to survive on its own without human help. Worse, feeding a raccoon could lead to it becoming ostracized from its group.
This is because raccoons usually travel in groups of two to six individuals. If one member of the group becomes dependent on humans for food, they may be forced away from the group when they are no longer able to find food on their own
If this happens, it could lead to the raccoon becoming even more dependent on humans as a source of food and protection, leading to the raccoon losing its natural instinct to find food on its own altogether.
In serious cases, feeding a raccoon could lead to the raccoon having an inability to survive on its own without human help. For this reason and many other reasons, if you see a raccoon in your yard or near your home, it is best to leave it alone.
3. You Might Accidentally Make The Racoon Sick
Human foods are not safe for raccoons.
Most people feed wild animals like a raccoon because they are trying to help the animal. Unfortunately, feeding a raccoon human food can actually do the exact opposite.
Like most animals, raccoons have specific dietary needs that come from foods they naturally find in the wild. Whether we are feeding a raccoon deliberately or we are being careless by leaving out garbage bins or pet food for a raccoon to find, the outcome for the raccoon could be dangerous.
Some human foods are especially dangerous for raccoons, including foods like:
- Citrus fruits and juices (lemonade, orange juice)
- Onions and garlic
- Grapes and raisins
- Salted nuts, seeds, popcorn, or corn on the cob
- Sugar-free gum or candy mints
So even if you’re not intentionally feeding a raccoon, an unsealed garbage bin or left-out pet food can lead to a raccoon getting his meals from dangerous sources. This is why it’s so important to seal garbage bins, store pet foods properly, and ensure your home is equipped with the right repellent devices to keep raccoons and other wild animals at bay.
4. Feeding A Racoon Will Attract More Racoons
One raccoon usually means more to come.
Raccoons are intelligent and curious animals. They will explore your yard, even if you don’t provide food. If you feed a raccoon, it will become bolder and more likely to interact with you and other members of your family. This can lead to problems with neighbors and even legal issues if the animal becomes aggressive or bites someone.
Feeding a raccoon could also lead to more raccoons invading your property.
Many raccoons could lead to unwanted pest issues in the future and problems not only for you but also for your neighbors.
If you have raccoons coming around your home, there are steps you can take to discourage them from visiting again, including keeping your garbage in a secure location until pick-up day, and making sure all pet food is stored away from doors where raccoons can sniff it out.
5. Feeding A Racoon May Attract Other Wildlife As Well
Not only will feeding a raccoon lead to more raccoons, but it could also attract other types of wildlife you may find less appealing.
Some wildlife that could be attracted to your home after feeding a raccoon include animals and pests like:
The above animals are often considered pests, and many of them not only carry serious diseases that can be transmitted to people and pets, but they are also incredibly destructive to yards and homes.
This means that feeding a raccoon could actually wind up costing you quite a bit of money in the long run if destructive pests begin to invade. Furthermore, some of the animals on our above list can be dangerous for other reasons outside of spreading disease.
Coyotes, bobcats, and bears, for example, can lead to safety concerns for people, (especially small children), and pets like dogs and cats.
6. Feeding A Racoon Can Spread Disease
Raccoons can spread serious diseases.
Not only are you putting raccoons in more danger when you begin feeding them, but you are putting yourself, your family, and your pets at risk too.
As we discussed, feeding a raccoon can lead to a higher risk of spreading the disease.
Raccoons can carry a number of diseases, including:
Rabies – Rabies is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system. It is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Once symptoms start appearing, rabies is almost always fatal.
Salmonella – Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals (including humans). People can become infected with salmonella by eating food contaminated with animal feces or touching animal feces and then eating without washing their hands beforehand. It causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps that can last up to a week.
E-Coli – E-Coli bacteria live in the intestines of all healthy humans and animals, but it can spread to others if they come into contact with feces from an infected person or animal. The most common symptoms are stomach pain, diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, and nausea.
Raccoons are also known to carry several parasites, including:
7. Feeding A Racoon May Put The Racoon In Danger With Predators and Humans Alike
Feeding a raccoon can be dangerous for more than a few reasons.
As we mentioned above, most people who feed wildlife are doing so out of the best intentions and out of compassion for the wild animal. However, when you are feeding a raccoon, you are putting it at risk not only due to poor nutrition or habituation but also at risk of having interactions with other predators or humans that may not take as kindly to these animals as you have.
Feeding a raccoon can lead to that raccoon being more at risk of being hit by cars. It can also lead to a higher risk of raccoons eating foods that are toxic or that have been tainted with poison by people who find them pests.
Raccoons may also be more at risk of being attacked by predators nearby who are also attracted to the food you are feeding a raccoon.
8. Feeding A Raccoon Can Affect The Raccoon’s Behavior
Feeding a raccoon can lead to it behaving differently.
Raccoon behaviors are affected by their diets and how much food is available in the environment. When food is scarce, raccoons will adapt their eating habits so that they can survive longer than usual without food. They may even go into a period of torpor where they sleep more than usual and decrease their body temperature to conserve energy.
Feeding a raccoon can disrupt this, especially if you’re feeding them inconsistently. It should also be noted that raccoons can be territorial, and they may begin to view you, your property, and the food you provide them as theirs. This could lead to even more docile raccoons becoming more aggressive than they normally would with you or your pets in an effort to keep the food source coming.
While rare, raccoons have been known to attack people and pets, so experts recommend it’s best to simply stay away and keep your food to yourself.
9. Feeding A Racoon Can Lead To Destruction Of Your Property
Raccoons are destructive animals and can be more destructive if you begin feeding them.
For anyone familiar with raccoons, this part is a no-brainer. Raccoons are highly destructive animals. For the most part, raccoons will only come around at night to invade unsealed garbage bins or pet food bowls, often sending them toppling over and leaving a mess for you in the morning.
But if you are regularly feeding a raccoon, you may find that this raccoon and many of his raccoon buddies will begin calling your space their space.
This means you will also see an uptick in destruction. Raccoons are known to be destructive to human property by tearing apart things like trash cans, patio furniture, and even the sidings of houses.
They have also been known to cause damage to cars, garden sheds, and gardens as well. So if you want to keep your property safe from these pesky critters, it is best not to feed them or encourage them by leaving pet food outside or dropping crumbs or food scraps on the ground around your home.
10. Wild Racoons Do Not Need To Be Fed By Humans
Wild raccoons are capable of finding food on their own without human help.
Last but not least, raccoons generally do not need to be fed by humans. Wild raccoons, and all wild animals, in fact, know how to survive in the wild on their own. They are born with natural instincts that are nurtured by their parents and other members of their group to help them survive.
When humans get involved and begin feeding a raccoon, we disrupt this natural cycle and in turn harm the animal rather than help it.
Experts suggest if you do see a raccoon you genuinely feel needs human assistance, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. There are many resources available you can reach out to for local wildlife assistance, and a quick Google search can lead you to the best resources in your area for help.
Best Products To Help You Keep Raccoons At A Safe Distance
There are products you can use to keep raccoons at a distance.
Although feeding a raccoon can be tempting, we now know all the reasons why feeding a raccoon is a bad idea. Of course, we understand that feeding wildlife may not always be intentional.
If you’re struggling with keeping wild animals like raccoons away from your property, we have listed a few products below that may be able to help.
Heyouou Ultrasonic Animal Repellent
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The Heyouou Ultrasonic Animal Repellent is a great way to repel raccoons.
The product works by using sound waves that repel pests. These waves are inaudible to humans but can be heard by animals such as raccoons, squirrels, and rats. The sound waves cause discomfort in these animals, making them want to leave your property.
This device does not use chemicals or poisons like many other repellents do. You don’t have to worry about accidentally harming the animals on your property when using the product.
Mighty Mint Gallon Natural Peppermint Oil Spray
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Mighty Mint Gallon Natural Peppermint Oil Spray is another all-natural way to get rid of raccoons without harming them or yourself! This non-toxic repellent works by using peppermint oil as its main ingredient, making it an organic and natural product that is safe for humans, pets, and the environment.
The peppermint oil is known for its ability to repel not only raccoons, but also insects, rodents, and other pests.
To use the product, simply spray it directly on the area of concern and let it dry naturally. This ensures that the scent lasts longer and is more effective as a deterrent against pests like mice, rats, and raccoons, who don’t like the smell of peppermint.
Natural Armor Animal And Rodent Repellent
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Natural Armor Animal and Rodent Repellent is a powerful formula created specifically for safely repelling animals like raccoons. The product uses natural ingredients that have been proven effective in repelling different kinds of wild animals from entering certain areas.
We like that the product contains no harmful chemicals or toxins that could be dangerous to your family or pets. It also does not leave any unpleasant smells behind after application so you won’t have to worry about putting up with a lingering odor after using this product.
Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent
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Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent is made from all natural ingredients, so it is safe for you and your pets. The repellent contains castor oil, which is a scent that many animals are repulsed by. It also contains garlic, which is another scent that most animals don’t like.
To get rid of the raccoons, spray this repellent on the areas where they are spending the most time around your property or yard. You can also spray this on any trees or plants in your yard where you have seen evidence of other pests digging for food or nesting.
There are no harmful chemicals in this product so there is no need to worry about harming any animals if they come into contact with it.
Careland Solar Nocturnal Animal Repellent
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There are many ways to keep raccoons away from your home, but another method that is safe and effective is using Careland Solar Nocturnal Animal Repellent. This product uses a combination of lights, sounds and scent to keep raccoons away from your property.
Raccoons are nocturnal animals which means they sleep during the day and come out at night to hunt for food or play with their friends. The product emits a bright light which deterred racoons and other nocturnal animals immediately.
The sound also acts as a repellent because most animals don’t like loud noises such as car engines or other loud sounds.
Feeding A Racoon – What Experts Want You Know Know About Wild Animals
Feeding wild animals is advised against for a number of reasons.
Wild animals and humans can coexist happier when humans leave wildlife alone. So, if you’re really wanting to help the raccoons in your area, it’s best to avoid feeding them altogether.
It’s also best to take action around your home to ensure you’re not accidentally providing food sources to these wild animals and their pals. Below are a few ways you can ensure you are accidentally feeding a raccoon.
- Be sure to seal garbage bins properly to keep wildlife at bay
- Avoid feeding a raccoon or any other wildlife to keep the wildlife from becoming habituated
- If you do want to watch wildlife, watch it from afar
- Take steps to keep wildlife at bay including using safe and humane pest repellent products like predator decoys, scent-repellents, and ultrasonic pest repellents
- Contact a wildlife expert for assistance if you discover that raccoons or any other type of wildlife is behaving strangely, seems sick, or has become overly comfortable with humans
We hope this has been a helpful guide on why feeding a raccoon is a bad idea. Now we want to hear from you! Did you realize that feeding a wild animal actually does more harm than good?
Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.