The Best Diet for a Pet Raccoon

racoon behind yard bench

Tracie Hall/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Raccoons make very interesting pets. They are curious, mischievous, playful, and get into everything. Pet raccoons eat quite a variety of foods. There are no formulated raccoon-specific diets but there are pre-made omnivore diets ready for you to purchase which can provide a proper, well-balanced diet for your pet raccoon. In addition to using an omnivore based diet, you can add in other food items by learning what a raccoon eats in the wild.

What Food Does a Wild Raccoon Eat?

Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat a little bit of everything. Their diet will vary a bit from season to season, and they will eat everything from insects to fruits to nuts to amphibians. The majority of their diet consists of worms, insects, and other invertebrates along with plant material, including fruits. Small reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other vertebrates make up the smallest portion of their diet. They will eat what is available, when it is available, and have a fondness for nuts and fruit. Raccoons are foragers, and depending on what type of environment they reside in, their diet will also vary.

What Food Does a Pet Raccoon Eat?

Because pet owners have complete control over the food their pets eat, it should be easy to offer only the healthiest of food items to a pet raccoon. This can be difficult with a pet raccoon since you'll need to offer such a wide variety of foods every day. The main diet should be a dry product made for omnivorous animals or you can give dog kibble. You can supplement kibble or omnivore food with poultry, fish, or eggs along with fresh vegetables, fruits (keep to a minimum), and whole prey items such as mice. Just giving dog food will not do but providing an omnivore based diet or pellet should be a great base if not adding additional items (which is recommended). Gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, earthworms, and other invertebrates should also be offered and double as enrichment if these prey items are still alive. Nuts, fruits, and seeds should be saved as treats and not fed in a large quantity due to their high-fat and sugar content.

How Much Food Does a Pet Raccoon Eat?

A young pet raccoon should be allowed to eat all the food that he or she wants in a day. Once they have reached about six months old, start limiting their diet. A quality dog food or omnivore based dry food will have a high-calorie count; therefore, a handful goes a long way. Start with about 1/8 of a cup of dry dog food/omnivore food two to three times daily and add in some other fresh items (sweet potatoe, grape, cantaloupe, carrots). A tablespoon or two of fresh veggies along with some egg, chicken, insects, and an occasional mouse or fruit item should create a balanced diet without causing your raccoon to become overweight. If you notice your raccoon is losing their visible waistline or if you can't feel their ribs anymore, bring them to a veterinarian for an examination for recommendations on feeding.

Raccoons love to dunk their food in water before eating it. Provide a large shallow dish (such as a kitty litter box) that is available to them during their feeding times. They are very messy eaters so be prepared to clean up after mealtime.

Does a Raccoon Eat Food Out of a Bowl?

A raccoon will certainly eat food from a bowl, but it is better to make them do a little work for their food, which will mimic how they eat in the wild. Try offering invertebrates such as crickets in a plastic under-bed storage box (so the crickets can't escape). Another idea is to put food on the steps, underneath boxes, or inside of objects. Make your raccoon exercise their brain and the rest of their body when it is feeding time. You'll find they are happier being healthy and mentally stimulated. Raccoons are very smart and need interesting things to do. By making feeding time a challenge, you will also keep your pet raccoon from becoming bored and destructive.