15 Things Raccoons Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips) (2022)

Commonly known as the “masked bandits,” raccoons are famed for their mischievous nature. They raid campsites and easily pry the lid of trash cans in search of a meal.

So, what do raccoons eat? Let’s dive in and find out.

Table of Contents

  • Raccoons Biology And Habits
  • What Do Raccoons Eat Most?
  • Foods To Avoid Feeding Raccoons
  • Tips To Feeding Raccoons
  • Summary

Raccoons Biology And Habits

Raccoons are omnivores; hence feed on a variety of foods. Their diet includes mainly nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, insects, frogs, and crayfish.

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Being nocturnal, they hunt during the night and rest during the day on high trees away from predators.

As independent creatures, the masked bandits are not known for sharing. After a hunt, they dine alone.

Their forefeet resemble that of human beings with five slender fingers. They are equipped with sharp claws to catch prey on land and in water. These features also come in handy in digging up grass and dirt in search of grub.

In addition, their paws are used for inspecting food and picking away pieces they don’t like to eat.

Like human beings, raccoons have incisors, molars, and canines used for biting, chewing, and tearing the flesh of their prey and other food substances. However, they are only known to hunt when the opportunity arises and mix their diets with fruits, nuts, and berries.

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Far from being the best predators, these critters tend to go after smaller prey like snakes, frogs, and insects, which is a rewarding source of nutrients.

The scientific name for raccoons is Procyon lotor. Lotor is a Latin word meaning ‘to wash.’

If you’ve come across a raccoon or two, you’ll notice that they have a sense of table manners. Before having a meal, they tend to wash their hands or their food. Is it because they are hygienic? Or is it for some other reason? The truth behind this phenomenon is yet to be known.

Initially, they were known solely to live in forests, but they extended their range to urban areas where they coexist with human beings.

Food in urban areas is easily accessible and available throughout the year. For the ‘trash pandas’ as they are also known, this is a bonus.

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What Do Raccoons Eat Most?

Like other omnivores, raccoons feed on a variety of foods. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, plants, nuts, grain, and small prey. On occasion, they are known to venture to areas inhabited by humans in search of a meal.

Raccoons will invade trash cans, compost sites, and even camps to find whatever they could lay their little paws on to fill their bellies. The food items they relish most include:

  • Amphibians- frogs are a known favorite and provide the protein required by the critter to survive.
  • Fruits- cherries, plums, berries, oranges, and even bananas provide the required minerals and vitamins needed in their diets.
  • Invertebrates- worms, mealworms, slugs, and snails are also a good source of protein much needed for their day-to-day survival.
  • Insects are also a good source of nutrients and are often easily accessible.
  • Eggs- chicken eggs, duck eggs, bird eggs, and any other eggs as they offer a ready source of protein.
  • Crayfish is by far one of the most common meals fed on by raccoons. They tend to shelter near water sources where they fish and enjoy this delicacy rich in nutrients. They are a staple diet for raccoons.
  • Corn is rich in starch and provides a heavy meal for these furry creatures.
  • Nuts- groundnuts, peanuts, acorns, beechnuts are preferred sources of fats and protein.
  • Raccoons commonly feed on these to get them through the winter season.
  • Birds- tiny birds serve as a filling meal and provide enough protein to get them through the day or night.
  • Vegetables such as sweet corn and peas are a good source of vitamin C, proteins, and carbohydrates.
  • Poultry- aside from their eggs, chicken also provides essentials required in the raccoon diet.
  • Pet food- cat and dog foods are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are key for a raccoon’s diet.
  • Rodents like rats and mice are easy to catch and are rich in nutrients.
  • Dead animals/Carrion- readily available, roadkill serves as a readily available meal and requires minimum effort to acquire.
  • Besides the above listed, they also feed on other small creatures found near water sources such as turtles, shellfish, and small reptiles.
  • Being intelligent and known problem solvers, they don’t mind working a bit harder to find food, which is usually satisfactory in the end.
  • During spring, the food consumed is stored mainly in their tails that they wrap around their bodies to keep warm in winter.
  • Raccoons eat the most during spring and summer as, during winter, they spend the most time in their dens. They may go into a long sleep for several weeks, known as torpor.
  • They may lose 14- 50% of their weight in these times as they don’t go out as much in search of food.
  • Raccoons that visit inhabited areas and may steal food left out for pets or snatch fish from ponds.

These, among many other foods, are a favorite for raccoons to eat. Their capability to adapt to different environments allows them to adjust their diets when the need arises.

Usually, they feed on almost anything they can get their paws on as long as it’s easily accessible.

Foods To Avoid Feeding Raccoons

15 Things Raccoons Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips) (1)

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You may ask yourself, “do raccoons have foods that are detrimental to their health?” Well, yes. Like other animals, a lot of foods that humans enjoy are harmful to these creatures. Most of these include junk foods.

Raccoons, like other omnivores, are susceptible to disease or death caused by a variety of foods. These foods include cocoa, coffee, chocolate, onions, garlic, other spices, avocados, guacamole, processed sugars, macadamia nuts, and raisins.

  • Cocoa, chocolate, and coffee contain theobromine that causes seizures and may lead to death.
  • Onions and other spices contain disulfides and sulfoxides, which cause anemia.
  • Avocados contain persin that causes diarrhea and heart congestion.
  • Processed sugars, candies, and chips may lead to loss of coordination and seizures. In addition, they may lead to strokes and liver failure, which may lead to death.
  • Sodas and artificial drinks contain complex sugars that destabilize their hormonal and digestive system.
  • Raccoons have long intestinal tracts that get rid of most toxins in garbage during digestion.
  • Also, their stomachs are highly acidic and will kill most harmful bacteria before they have the opportunity to harm them.
  • Despite this fact, they tend to avoid rotten foods unless they have no other choice. Hence, they also tend to steer clear of moldy foods.
  • Moldy foods may lead to severe illness. Fungus contains neurotoxins that cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and attacks among raccoons.

Therefore, when feeding raccoons, kindly avoid giving them these substances that are harmful to their health. Ensure trash is taken out on collection day to prevent raccoons from eating these foods.

Remember, the safety of these creatures is essential as well. It would be inhumane to let these creatures suffer such a cruel fate, regardless of their menacing nature.

Tips To Feeding Raccoons

15 Things Raccoons Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips) (2)

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You require an immense amount of knowledge when it comes to feeding raccoons. Why? Because improper feeding of these critters may have dire consequences. The most common being diabetes.

  • Raccoons have to be offered a wide variety of food daily. The food should be rich in protein and supplemented with other nutrients.
  • Kits (offspring of a raccoon) take six weeks before they wean off their mummy’s milk. The young ones should be allowed to eat all they want in a day. Their diets should only be limited after six months.
  • On the other hand, adult raccoons should be fed twice a day. First, in the morning, then later in the evening.
  • You can feed them grain-free dog food as a staple diet daily. It can be supplemented with eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, veggies, or prey items such as mice.
  • Mealworms, earthworms, gut-loaded crickets, and other invertebrates should be offered as double enrichment if alive.
  • Seeds and nuts should be kept as treats and shouldn’t be given in large quantities due to their high-fat levels.
  • Provide a large dish, preferably shallow, filled with water as they like to dunk their food before eating.
  • When feeding them invertebrates like crickets, offer them in a storage box or plastic bag to prevent the crickets from escaping.
  • Make feeding time more interesting by placing the food on steps or underneath objects. By doing so, you help the raccoon exercise their brains and body as well.
  • Making feeding time a challenge stimulates their brains and keeps them happy and healthy. Such activities also keep them from getting bored and becoming destructive.
  • Change their water regularly and feed them in an area that is easy to tidy up.
  • If feeding large groups of raccoons, place several plates of food in different spots to prevent them from fighting for the food.
  • Stagger their food so that they continue to forage and hunt for themselves.

Improper handling may even lead to rabies as raccoons may not bark, but they do bite. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, they are primary carriers of the rabies virus. So avoid feeding them directly with your hands.

Summary

Aside from being known menaces to society, the “masked bandits” can thrive in whatever environment they inhabit. They are well equipped to haunt, forage and even rob if necessary to sustain their survival. And this is because of their capability to adapt and adjust their diets accordingly.

FAQs

What are raccoons favorite? ›

Among the raccoon's favorite foods on land are: fruits, seeds, nuts, birds' eggs and plants. In cities, raccoons scavenge around garbage bins and will eat scraps of food and other trash found there. Raccoons are also excellent swimmers, hunting fish, frogs, and crayfish.

What does a common raccoon eat? ›

Their diet includes fruits and nuts, insects and aquatic invertebrates, fish, small rodents, frogs, bird eggs, carrion and human garbage. Raccoons are almost exclusively nocturnal. During the day they sleep in dens in the trees.

What should you not feed a raccoon? ›

Although they are omnivorous, there are some things raccoons can't eat: Chocolate, onions, raisins and macadamia nuts are toxic to raccoons. Garlic and bread aren't toxic, but they can upset a raccoon's digestion. Coffee, cocoa and candies can cause health problems in raccoons.

What are raccoons favorite treats? ›

In the wild, raccoons eat birds and other mammals, but they prefer to hunt for easier meals if they are available. Some of their favorite foods include nuts, berries, insects, and eggs. They also catch fish, shellfish, reptiles, and amphibians if their denning site is near a body of water.

What are raccoons favorite vegetables? ›

One vegetable that attracts raccoons like crazy is a corn plant. They will raid a whole corn patch in one night if they get the chance. So it's important to be mindful of this if you have a raccoon problem in your area. Nuts and berries are another raccoon favorite.

What can I feed a wild raccoon? ›

Their favorite food includes nuts, buried eggs, and insects. Urban raccoons eat typical foods like wild berries, walnuts, acorns, and fruits such as grapes and peaches. They can also eat birds, frogs, fish, and mice.

What fruits do raccoons eat? ›

Fruit trees

Main Attraction: Raccoons are attracted to sweet foods, especially ripe fruit such as apples, peaches, and plums. They also feed on apricots, cherries, and mulberries.

Do racoons like Cheerios? ›

We experimented with foods the 'coons would eat. Fruit, yes; broccoli, no; carrots, tomatoes, celery, no; moldy cheese or meat scraps, yes. They like stale Cheerios, but not cheese grits. Their favorite is cat food kibble.

Do racoons like peanut butter? ›

They will eat anything that is not entirely toxic. To successfully bait and trap a raccoon, you must look for foods that are aromatic and easy to spot. Examples of this include meat, fish, peanut butter, and dog food. These foods are sure to attract racoons, especially the peanut butter (because of its smell).

Will raccoons eat bananas? ›

My pet Raccoon Tito is enjoying one of his favorite snacks, a banana! Listen as he snacks and smacks on his delicious treat! Hope you enjoy this ASMR video from this cute little animal!

Do raccoons like sugar? ›

1. Raccoons are omnivorous, eating almost anything. Raccoons tend to eat any food that is abundant, but they prefer sweet foods. Candy and marshmallows are useful as raccoon bait that will not attract most family pets.

What do raccoons drink? ›

These little animals will eat pretty much anything they can get their hands on – they are omnivores with a very opportunistic diet. When it comes to drinking, however, they are much more likely to go for water than anything else. Raccoons will drink other liquids, but freshwater is generally their preference.

What are raccoons most afraid of? ›

Raccoons aren't fond of spicy smells, so a cayenne pepper spray can be an easy and effective raccoon repellent. Mix a small bottle of cayenne pepper with a bottle of hot sauce, then add both to a gallon of water and shake well. Spray this pepper solution around your plants, bushes, and other garden greenery.

What smell attracts raccoons? ›

Wet cat food is relatively fatty, and it's also quite pungent, so it's something that raccoons will notice as soon as they come out. While raccoons can't resist the smell of cat food, the same goes for other animals—especially, you guessed it, cats.

Do racoons love marshmallows? ›

Marshmallows

This food always tops the list of foods that can successfully lure a raccoon. It is soft to chew and very appealing to raccoons. This wildlife is naturally attracted to the scent, size, and shape of marshmallows.

What food attracts raccoons but not cats? ›

Raccoons Like Marshmallows

Marshmallows are my favorite bait because raccoons are drawn to the shape and color (like eggs), they like sweets, and this won't catch stray cats or skunks.

What do raccoons find irresistible? ›

If you want to increase the chances that your neighborhood raccoon will go for your bait of choice, whether it be marshmallows, cat food, or bacon, drizzle a little honey over it. Remember, raccoons love sweets, so the double-shot of yumminess might be just what you need to entice them into the trap.

What are raccoons most afraid of? ›

Raccoons aren't fond of spicy smells, so a cayenne pepper spray can be an easy and effective raccoon repellent. Mix a small bottle of cayenne pepper with a bottle of hot sauce, then add both to a gallon of water and shake well. Spray this pepper solution around your plants, bushes, and other garden greenery.

What are raccoons most scared of? ›

One of the key natural survival instincts for any animal is to know when to flee, and one of the main fears that many raccoons will have is a fear of their natural predators, although this will often be stronger in those raccoons living in rural areas where they are more likely to encounter predators.

Are raccoons friendly towards humans? ›

Raccoons are a common sight in many areas–urban, suburban, and rural, but this doesn't mean that they are safe or friendly to humans. In fact, raccoons can be quite dangerous if they get too close.

Do raccoons like Rice Krispie Treats? ›

His favorite being Rice Krispy treats. Most raccoons love marshmallows. Not Rodney, he preferred them stirred in something, usual cereal.

Do racoons like peanut butter? ›

They will eat anything that is not entirely toxic. To successfully bait and trap a raccoon, you must look for foods that are aromatic and easy to spot. Examples of this include meat, fish, peanut butter, and dog food. These foods are sure to attract racoons, especially the peanut butter (because of its smell).

What do raccoons do to show affection? ›

Raccoons can be remarkably affectionate. They can become very attached to their owners and spend long periods snuggling. However, if they are afraid or become angry, they can and will bite. There have also been accounts of abandoned baby raccoons or young raccoons being good pets, but adult raccoons becoming mean.

What do raccoons hate? ›

Since raccoons have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find convenient food sources, one can take advantage of this feature by using scents they hate. Hot pepper, garlic, peppermint oil, onion, and Epsom salt are a few scents used to repel raccoons.

Do raccoons hate light? ›

As nocturnal animals, most raccoons prefer to stay out of the spotlight. Bright lights that resemble daylight can scare raccoons away.

Will raccoons fight dogs? ›

Fight or flight

Healthy raccoons are unlikely to pick a fight with a dog, but dogs sometimes chase raccoons. Sick or injured raccoons, cornered mothers protecting their young and orphaned baby raccoons are most likely to be victims of dog attacks.

Why do raccoons like to touch everything? ›

Raccoons Have a Super Sense

Compared with most mammals, raccoons have four to five times more sensory cells in their paws. And 75 percent of the part of their brain that processes sensory signals is devoted to touch.

Why should you not touch raccoons? ›

Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that can infect raccoons, skunks, opossums, Norway rats, mice, and white-tailed deer. Humans may be exposed if they come into contact with infected urine or contaminated soil and water. Avoid touching wild animals.

What sounds do raccoons make when scared? ›

Raccoons also growl in defense when in the presence of danger. Other vocalizations may include a low grunt, loud purr or even a scream (when under stress), which can indicate their presence to homeowners.

Will raccoons bite you? ›

Raccoons can be very aggressive and will bite or scratch if they feel threatened.

How smart are raccoons? ›

According to a variety of studies, raccoons are very intelligent. Vanderbilt University researchers found that raccoons have an average of 438 million neurons in a relatively small brain, which places them on the higher end of the mammal intelligence scale.

Should you touch a raccoon? ›

It is not a good idea to touch a raccoon, even if it is harmless. Next to bats, raccoons are most frequently linked to reported rabies cases in the United States. All it takes is a single bite.

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