Raccoons are a species of mammal that belong to the Procyonidae family. These animals have a mischievous appearance, often sporting a bandit-like mask over their eyes. While they are commonly found throughout North America, raccoons also inhabit parts of Central and South America. The average adult raccoon measures between 20 and 40 inches long and typically weighs 10 to 30 pounds. Their fur is usually grayish brown in color but can range from light silver-gray to almost black.
Raccoons have an impressive set of skills that make them quite adept at finding food. They often use their dexterous front paws to search through holes or pick up objects of interest as they explore their surroundings. They are mostly active at night and rely on their keen senses of smell and hearing to detect potential meals. One interesting fact about these animals is that they can remember how to solve complex problems for months at a time. Furthermore, raccoons are intelligent enough to adapt quickly to urban areas, which allows them easy access to food sources like garbage cans and pet food dishes left outside. Despite their intelligence, some states consider raccoons an invasive species due to their habit of destroying crops and gardens in search for food or shelter.
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Can You Have a Raccoon as a Pet ?
Opinions vary, and in many states, raccoons are illegal to keep as pets. States often prohibit the adoption or possession of raccoons because they carry various diseases, including rabies, and may create a health hazard. Due to the animal’s proximity to the population and its capacity to adapt easily and quickly to urban areas, in certain jurisdictions like Arizona, raccoons are considered to be a public nuisance and a destructive force to homes and landowners. Still, a majority of the country allows for coon hunting, sometimes without many restrictions, like in Idaho.
However, there are some states where one can have a pet raccoon. For instance in Michigan, you can keep a raccoon as a pet as long as it meets two qualifications: the ownership of the raccoon has to be approved by a veterinarian, and the owner has to have a wild animal permit. The state of Florida also authorizes its citizens to keep a raccoon as a pet under the condition that one gets a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Where Is it Legal to Own a Raccoon ?
Raccoons are legal to own as pets in the US states of Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. However, some states may require a special permit or license before you can keep one as your pet. In Delaware for example, it is mandatory to acquire a wildlife rehabilitator permit from the Division of Fish and Wildlife before owning a raccoon. Additionally, each state has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to keeping these animals as pets so make sure to check with your local government agencies before obtaining a raccoon. Furthermore, while they may be legal to have in certain states they may not be legal to bring across state lines due to the risk of carrying certain diseases or parasites which could potentially infect other wildlife or domesticated animals.
States That Allow Raccoons as Pets
9. Rhode Island
10. South Carolina
12. West Virginia
Pet Raccoon Legal Status by State
It is illegal to keep raccoons as pets in Alabama. This is due to the fact that they are wild animals and could potentially be dangerous if kept in captivity. They may carry diseases, such as rabies or leptospirosis, which can be spread to humans and other animals. Additionally, their natural behaviors can make them difficult to care for, such as frequent nocturnal activity and the tendency to bite when startled or provoked. Keeping raccoons as pets has been outlawed in many states because of these risks; individuals who violate this law in Alabama risk facing criminal charges and steep fines.
Although raccoons are not native to Alaska, it is still possible to find them in the state, but not to have pet raccoons. They were most likely introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. At the same time, fur farms proliferated in Alaska, which coincided with the increasing popularity of raccoons in American pop culture. Raccoon coats became widely popular until the Great Depression when the wild animals that survived were offered as pets. Today, raccoons are extremely rare in the state.
Raccoons are not desert animals (and pet raccoons even less), but the wild animal can be found in the Arizonian land close to its lakes, reservoirs, and streams. And while they are protected under state law, Arizona’s raccoons are considered to be a public nuisance, and it is forbidden to adopt them. However, Arizanonian hunters, equipped with a hunting permit, can pursue them with dogs and trap them. It is also one of the few species that hunters can legally kill with a firearm at night.
Arkansas has one of the highest pet ownership rates, and the fact that Arkansans are permitted to own a pet raccoon might contribute to this high percentage. Indeed, the state of Arkansas allows its citizens to take raccoons – along with other animals including bobcats, coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, and foxes – from their wild habitat and keep them in their households.
In California, it is illegal to keep raccoons as pets due to their classification as wild animals. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife considers raccoons to be a prohibited species in the state, meaning that individuals cannot purchase them or possess them except under special circumstances. This requirement is intended to safeguard both the public and the raccoons from potential harm and prevent the spread of serious diseases like rabies.
In Colorado, it is illegal to own any wild animals, including a domesticated raccoon in order to ensure public health and public safety, to protect domestic livestock, and to protect Colorado’s wildlife and wildlife resources. Despite this interdiction, the black-mask-ringed-tail animal is very common in the state of Colorado, both in urban and rural areas.
The unmistakable raccoon is abundant and widespread throughout the state, yet, it is illegal to own a pet raccoon. Economically, this wild animal is an important furbearer in Connecticut and is harvested during the hunting and trapping seasons each year.
Delaware is one of the few states that allow its inhabitants to have a pet raccoon. In order to adopt this wild animal, it is however necessary to receive a permit from the state. On the other hand, the possession of other forms of wildlife such as foxes is strictly prohibited.
District of Columbia
Some time has passed since Rebecca the pet raccoon was a distinguished occupant of the White House. Brought from Mississippi to be served for the 1926 Thanksgiving dinner, she was saved and kept as a pet by former US president Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace. Today, it is illegal to keep any wild animals as pets in the District of Columbia.
Along with Delaware, Texas, and Arkansas, the state of Florida authorizes its citizens to keep pet raccoons. In order to acquire a raccoon as a personal pet in Florida (or other wild animals such as opossum, lemur, spider monkey, or zebra), one has to be over 16 years old and get a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The permit is free and will last two years.
The little mammal is fairly popular in Georgia and can be found in both rural and urban areas, and while it is illegal to own a pet raccoon in this state, raccoons remain a popular game animal, specifically for sport hunting. The state has recently passed legislation that allows year-round hunting and trapping for raccoons (as well as opossums).
Not native to this island, pet raccoons are prohibited. In fact, the noticeable animal, with its bandit mask and tiny hands is considered to be “injurious wildlife” known to be harmful to the indigenous ecosystems and constitute a nuisance and health hazard. It is therefore illegal to possess, import, propagate, or sell raccoons.
Idaho belongs to the top five states that have the highest pet ownership rates but do not allow pet raccoons despite the fact that raccoons are native to the region and found all over the state. On the contrary, they have been recently reclassified as predatory wildlife, and can therefore be hunted in any number, at any time, all year round; under the condition that one possesses an Idaho hunting or trapping license.
Although the number of raccoons has drastically increased since the beginning of the 20th century, it is illegal to keep a pet raccoon in this state. Illinois recognized raccoons as furbearers, it is allowed to hunt them from mid-November to mid-February. In parallel, the Department of Natural Resources monitors the number of raccoons to make sure that hunting activities do not impact the raccoon population negatively.
The little nocturnal animal is common and widespread in Indiana and the current laws in the state allow the possession of pet raccoons along with the possession of beavers, foxes, or skunks, but a wild animal possession permit is required.
Iowans have most certainly met the masked animal before, but it is forbidden to have a pet raccoon in this state. Raccoons live in close proximity to humans in urban and rural communities, they can adapt very easily to their environment, and consequently may become a nuisance for the inhabitants. This is the reason why Iowa’s legislation bans owning, possessing, breeding, and importing raccoons.
Raccoons are abundant in Kansas, specifically in the east where water and woodlands can be found but it is illegal to possess a pet raccoon in Kansas. Yet, it is by far the most important furbearer in terms of total pelt value and number harvested in the state. Indeed, the animal has accounted for half of the annual furbearer harvest, and for approximately 60% of the economic return from the state fur harvesting in recent years.
It is strictly illegal to own a pet raccoon in Kentucky, and no individual is allowed to have the wild animal as a pet in their home. The state classifies raccoons as furbearers, it is possible to hunt them from October to February with no limit, on condition that one possesses a hunting permit.
Despite Louisiana hosting the Fur and Wildlife Festival every year, the state does not allow its inhabitants to keep a pet raccoon. Raccoons are viewed to be a nuisance and a destructive force to homeowners as well as landowners. This is why Louisianians can hunt them all year round, without heavy regulations.
Pet raccoons are illegal in Maine because they can carry parasites and rabies, and may cause many problems when it is in close proximity to humans. However, raccoons should not be confused with the Maine Coon, a large domesticated cat breed native to the state of Maine.
Raccoons, widespread in Maryland, are perceived to be nuisance wildlife and it is illegal to keep them as pets. It is illegal to keep raccoons in captivity due to the potential public health risks posed by rabies and other raccoon-borne illnesses. Indeed, raccoons are responsible for 60% of the cases of rabies in the state of Maryland. Possessing a raccoon could lead to fines and even criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.
Massachusetts does not allow its citizens to own pet raccoons or other wild animals. It is however possible to hunt the masked animal during the hunting season, provided that one has a hunting or sporting license. Massachusetts state enforces a bag limit, restricting the number of hunted raccoons to six per day.
Michigan residents have, if desired, the possibility to own a pet raccoon. In order to do this, they have to fill out and submit a wild game permit application. They would therefore be authorized to possess wild game that has been reared in captivity only, and that is native to the region. However, it is forbidden to possess any wild animals taken from the wild.
Raccoons are protected in the state of Minnesota, it is therefore illegal to possess a pet raccoon. But this also means that dealing with the issues caused by these wild animals presents some challenges. This is why Minnesota has put an emphasis on damage prevention.
Mississippi law is clear: it is unlawful for someone to import, transfer, sell, purchase, or possess a pet raccoon because it is considered to be inherently dangerous. The state also recommends its residents be wary of raccoons visiting their property and try to discourage them by capping chimneys, eliminating bird feeders, or removing decorative water fountains for instance.
Known as the “backyard bandits”, raccoons are widespread in the state of Missouri, it is however illegal to possess a pet raccoon in this state. The Wildlife Code of Missouri classifies the wild animal as a furbearer and game mammal. It may therefore be hunted during the prescribed hunting and trapping seasons.
Although pet raccoons are illegal in Montana, these wild animals are native to the region and can be found everywhere in the state. And with the development of infrastructure and housing, particularly around the water streams, their population has increased dramatically.
Nebraskans can perceive the little creature all over the region and are allowed to have a pet raccoon, under the condition that they have a captive wildlife permit. The population greatly expanded its reach since the 1940s, when they were common only in the eastern part of the state.
It is forbidden to own a pet raccoon in Nevada despite the fact that the state has a long list of animals that can be kept without a permit (including toucans, lovebirds, monkeys, elephants, camels, or ostrich). They are nevertheless unprotected by Nevada’s legislation and can be hunted and harvested for their fur.
New Hampshire, defined by its charming towns and large expanses of wilderness, prohibits the adoption of pet raccoons. They are common in the area and can be hunted for their fur during the New Hampshire hunting and trapping season, which runs from September to March.
While it is not legal to own a pet raccoon in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country attracts its fair share of raccoons. They are often causing a lot of issues such as chewing wires, damaging attic vents, or overturning waste containers.
Raccoons are present in New Mexico, but the state prohibits the adoption of pet raccoons due to the potential for the spread of rabies and other zoonotic diseases. In addition to possible disease transmission, pet raccoons can also be disruptive to local ecosystems, taking food away from native wildlife and adversely impacting the balance of nature.
More than rats, raccoons are the most widespread animal in New York State. While it is unlawful to possess pet raccoons, they can be found everywhere, from secluded forests to urban centers like New York City, where they enjoy raiding the trash of new yorkers. They are protected by law. They can be hunted if one has a hunting license from the state. Since 2014, the City of New York has also been cooperating with the federal government to vaccinate raccoons in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island against rabies.
Although North Carolina does not have specific laws regarding exotic animal ownership, it is forbidden by the state to own a pet raccoon. They are classified as game species and furbearers and can be hunted during the hunting and trapping seasons.
Raccoons, like foxes, are common throughout North Dakota. Yet, unlike foxes, it is illegal to keep a pet raccoon in the state. The main reason provided is the threat of rabies. As for foxes, they are considered by the state not inherently dangerous, and can therefore be possessed.
The raccoon is found throughout the state, the majority being found in northwestern and central Ohio. While owning a pet raccoon is unlawful, it is possible to hunt them. Indeed, raccoon hunting is widely popular in the region and there are many raccoon hunter clubs and competitions being held yearly.
Oklahoma, in addition to allowing its citizens to possess a pet raccoon (on condition that one has a license from the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation), has designated the wild animal as the official state-furbearing animal in 1989.
The little creatures have adapted well to Oregon’s urban and suburban environments where it is forbidden to own a pet raccoon. Because they are living so close to Oregonians, conflicts may appear. The state laid out advice to prevent these conflicts such as keeping pet food indoors, or fastening garbage can slides with rubber straps. But because they are protected under state law, they cannot be relocated.
While Rhode Islanders do not need a permit to own a llama, alpaca, or domestic yak, they do need one to adopt a pet raccoon. Rhode Islanders are also allowed to kill, by legal means, these protected furbearers if they are damaging their property.
The raccoon is a common animal in the state present along the coast, inland, and within South Carolinians’ homes: owning a pet raccoon is authorized in the state if a permit is granted. Raccoons can also be hunted and trapped during the hunting season, a sport appreciated by many residents.
Raccoons are naturally present throughout South Dakota. Even though the state forbids the possession of pet raccoons, this wild animal can be hunted and trapped. The Game, Fish, and Parks Commission even passed a resolution to establish the “Nest Predator Bounty Program”, which aims to reduce localized populations of nest predators, including raccoons.
The state prohibits the possession of pet raccoons. However, hunting is a popular activity in Tennessee, and hunting raccoons is no exception: the state considers them as a hunted species. It also designated the nocturnal mammal as the official wild animal symbol of Tennessee in 1971.
Native to Texas, the animal is abundant in the area and the state allows Texans to possess a pet raccoon under the condition of receiving an appropriate permit from the Department of Fish and Game. In addition to this legislation, it is forbidden by law to kill a raccoon without a hunting or trapping permit.
Although not native to the region, raccoons can be found in Utah. The state also forbids the adoption and possession of pet raccoons. The wild animal can also be hunted and trapped without possessing a hunting or trapping license.
There are a lot of pet owners in the state of Vermont, but none of them may possess a pet raccoon. Their presence is widespread throughout the state and it is strictly prohibited to take wildlife into captivity, including raccoons. However, one is allowed to hunt and trap them all year round.
Raccoons are abundant in the state. Despite their common presence, Virginia laws strictly prohibit its residents from keeping pet raccoons or trying to raise them without a rehabilitation permit. It is also illegal to trap and relocate them to another area.
Residents of Washington may encounter raccoons often but it is unlawful to adopt a pet raccoon: like coyotes, squirrels, or foxes, raccoons are protected under state laws. A hunting or trapping license is also required to hunt or trap them during the open season.
Raccoons are a common sight in the region. With an appropriate permit, it is legal to keep a pet raccoon. However, it is forbidden to trap or shoot them without a nuisance wildlife permit. Meanwhile, no permit is needed to hunt and trap these wild animals during legal harvest seasons if one already holds a hunting or trapping license.
Raccoons are well-known animals in Wisconsin, and the state residents may even adopt a pet raccoon. In fact, the Wisconsin Conservation Department sponsored a major raccoon propagation program between the 1930s and the 1950s that was responsible for the release of more than a thousand raccoons every year. Today, raccoons offer important recreational and economic opportunities to Wisconsinites. They can also be watched, photographed, and hunted.
The Wyoming law authorizes Wyomingites to keep pet raccoons – as well as other animals such as ostriches, coyotes, and red foxes – without any permits. However, it may be rare to see a raccoon in Yellowstone National Park, but the species is present in the northern parts of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and throughout the state more generally.