- Raccoons will eat just about anything.
Although this statement is generally true, raccoons do have definite
preferences. Generally speaking, they like peanuts, sweets, fruits,
bread, peanut butter, and especially cat and dog food. Like feeding
humans, though, don't overload them with treats -- make those
for special occasions, and leave the healthier stuff for most
of the time.
- Don't feed raccoons by hand!
They sure are cute, there's not a hardened soul anywhere in the
world who could deny that. And not only are they cute, they're
genuinely wonderful animals. But I discourage you from feeding
wild raccoons by hand. A raccoon may bite you quite accidentally,
mistaking a finger for food; or, he may bite you on purpose if
he thinks you're taking his food away from him. No matter what
the reason is, once it's happened you're both in trouble, because
you'll have to be tested for rabies, and the local health authorities
will want to capture the raccoon who bit you and cut off his head
to test him for rabies. If they can't find the one who
bit you (and what are the chances they will?) they'll most likely
just grab any raccoon they can find and test him. Either way you
look at it, you have to get nasty rabies treatments, and a raccoon
loses his life. It's just not worth it.
- Don't let the raccoons get used
to your handouts This tip is harder to live by than the
others, because you'll soon find you love the company of your
little night visitors. But you shouldn't get used to feeding them
every single night. For their sake, and yours, you should try
to stagger the nights you leave food out, so they're never sure
when there will be food and when there won't. Raccoons are incredibly
good problem solvers, so try not to make it a pattern. This way,
when you're away on vacation, they won't tear into your house
to find out why you forgot to leave food out for them. Which leads
me to another point...
- Don't associate your house proper
with the food you leave out. When you put out food, it's
tempting to put it out on your doorstop or porch. A lot of people
do this, and in most cases that's fine. But some raccoons are
more adventurous than others. If you're not careful, they may
come to recognize your house as the source of their food. If you
move out or go on vacation, the frustrated raccoons may very well
invite themselves inside to find out why you've gone. It's safer,
though not strictly necessary, to put the food a good distance
away from your house.
- Put out several plates of food
to avoid fights. It's usually a good idea to put a few
dishes out, if you're going to feed, so there aren't too many
territorial squabbles over the food. For the most part, raccoons
are quite happy to share with each other (and other animals) IF
there's enough to go around.
- If your neighbors may object,
ASK them! Not all of us are lucky enough to live in a
rural setting deep in the woods. If you leave out food for raccoons,
you risk attracting them to the area of your neighbors' yards
as well as your own. If you don't want to get into hot water with
your neighbors, ask them if they mind having the raccoons around.
MOST of the time, there will be no problems -- if your neighbor
keeps his garbage cans tightly sealed and doesn't leave out food,
he'll remain totally unmolested, unless you've got REALLY spectacularly