Baystate Wildlife | Learn About Raccoons
Baystate Wildlife: Are Raccoons Pets or Pests?
We at Baystate Wildlife have humanely removed raccoons from all over New England. With their distinguishable black masks, raccoons appear like bandits of the animal kingdom. These cunning and curious creatures can destroy gardens and tip over garbage cans, leaving an ugly mess for homeowners to clean up after. But did you know that a raccoon was once kept as a pet and at the White House no less? That’s right; US president Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace Coolidge kept a raccoon on the White House grounds. Now you may be wondering if raccoons can be kept as pets or are they really pests? Read on to learn more about these fascinating nocturnal animals.
1. Raccoons’ paws resemble human hands – Have you ever wondered how raccoons can easily snatch up food? It’s because they have five toes on their forepaws, which lend them extra dexterity. These paws can open doors, jars, bottles, and latches, thus giving them the reputation of mischievous mammals. Despite their paws’ resemblance to human hands, however, this doesn’t mean you can invite them over for tea time or dinner. While they would gladly get your food, they, unfortunately, aren’t as warm when it comes to human company.
2. Raccoons are solitary animals – Don’t be fooled by the raccoon’s cute and cuddly looks; as mentioned, they rarely make great companions or pets. In fact, raccoons can be vicious and attack humans. So why did Coolidge keep one as a pet? Although the animal-loving Coolidge did keep one with a matching leash, it seems the feelings weren’t mutual. The story goes that Rebecca (the raccoon) allegedly ripped up clothing, clawed on upholstery, and may have even attacked Coolidge as he appeared with his wrist bandaged one morning. In the end, the Coolidges donated Rebecca to the national zoo.
3. Raccoons are opportunistic animals – Because raccoons are adaptable, they can live and make a home just about anywhere. We at Baystate Wildlife have seen it all! From trees and caves to barns, attics, and abandoned vehicles, raccoons will stay where there is an opportunity for food and shelter. As such they are known to eat anything they can get their paws on, including human food. Generally, however, raccoons are omnivorous animals with plant foods and fruit in their diet.
4. Raccoons clean their food before eating it – Raccoons may live in the wild, but they apparently have a sense for sanitation. This is because raccoons rinse their food in water before eating it. If there is no stream of water nearby, raccoons will still clean their food by rubbing it to remove the debris. Now, isn’t that amazing?
5. Raccoons can carry various disease – Unfortunately, the raccoon’s sense of sanitation ends with its food. They are known to carry several bacterial diseases and parasites. For instance, raccoons are one of the primary carriers of rabies in the country. They may also carry leptospirosis, salmonella, and roundworms.
If you spot raccoon tracks on your garden, or if you see damage around your property that may have been caused by a raccoon, call us at Baystate Wildlife right away. We provide humane wildlife control and removal for everyone’s safety, including the wildlife in question.