What Do Raccoons Eat In The Wild?

Raccoons are solitary and nocturnal animals with diverse diets. They are native to North America except in southwestern states like Nevada and Arizona. They inhabit various natural environments like moist woodlands, farmlands, and urban areas, but they can be spotted anywhere.

These animals are notorious for overturning garbage cans. They rummage through them in search of leftovers and easy meals. But more to this, what do these cute little animals eat when they’re out in the wild? Let’s find out!

What food does a raccoon eat in the wild?

Raccoons are omnivores- they consume both plants and animals. Their diet depends on the season and availability of food. In summer and fall, raccoons feast on sweet fruits like grapes and berries. During spring, they enjoy fish, snakes, and freshwater mussels. 

The raccoon’s diet consists of the following:

Fish

Raccoons mostly live near bodies of water like streams, lakes, and rivers. So, it’s no surprise that fish forms a significant part of their diet. They don’t even fear water; they confidently wade into it. Their sharp claws, sensitive hands, and nimble fingers help them to snatch fish quickly.

Fish is a good source of nutrients due to its high content of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Other nutrients also include omega three and omega six fatty acids.

Snakes

These wild animals eat all sorts of snakes- from venomous to nonvenomous. Raccoons kill their prey by biting the back of their skull. Once the snake is dead, they eat it whole- starting from the head.

It’s important to know that lizards and snakes can be quick. Raccoons sometimes can’t chase them. They can only consume them in success when they’re dead or weak. However, baby snakes tend to be slower than adults, making them easier to catch.

Snails

If snakes tend to be safe because they’re fast, snails, on the other hand, are easy meals. Due to their slow movement, they become a regular part of the raccoon’s diet.

Snails thrive in environments with shallow water, coexisting with raccoons that are in nearby areas. When raccoons are too tired of foraging somewhere, they’ll resort to these mollusks. They won’t have to spend a lot of energy, so they have to save time and strength for the coming winter months.

Eggs

When it comes to eggs, raccoons will eat them indiscriminately- whether they come from a bird’s nest or a turtle’s. These animals are good climbers and can reach high nests with ease. Once they have bird eggs in their possession, they’ll either eat them on the spot or store them for later.

Rodents

Raccoons feed on rats, mice, and other rodents too. They live in similar habitats, so these animals often cross paths. They’ll also encounter each other when they infest or lurk on house properties.

Other food that raccoons eat

Raccoons will also eat nuts, seeds, berries, insects, shellfish, crayfish, mushrooms, frogs, and other amphibians and reptiles.

These mammals will eat almost anything, even carrion or dead animals.

How Do Raccoons Forage?

Raccoons are nocturnal animals. They are more active, and they forage for food at night. When these gals live near villages or neighborhoods, you might wake up with overturned trash cans and littered objects everywhere. 

Raccoons forage by sight and touch. They use their nimble fingers through piles of leaves, logs, and other debris. Raccoons are equipped with a powerful sense of smell. They’ll follow the scent when they smell something interesting until they find the source. For example, if a raccoon smells a dead animal, it will dig through the ground to get to it.

The Difference Between Wild and Urban Raccoon Food

You might be wondering, “Do raccoons in the wild eat the same food as urban ones?” The answer is both yes and no. Raccoons in the wild will still consume most of the animals and plants mentioned earlier. The only difference is that their diet consists of small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and opossums.

In urban areas, raccoons find food supply around human food and garbage. If you live in an area with many of these animals, keep your trash cans secured. Otherwise, you’ll have a huge mess to deal with in the morning!

Why Do Racoons Love Garbage?

Have you ever wondered why raccoons are so attracted to garbage? Well, there are a few reasons for this. One reason is that garbage is full of food that these animals like to eat. This includes meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Raccoons will also dig through the trash in search of insects and rodents. So, it’s wiser to seal your cans tightly. Waking up to scattered garbage in the morning can be pretty stressful.

How do raccoons survive the winter?

Raccoons hibernate during winter. But, they’re not true hibernators, meaning they’re still active year-round. What they do is stay in their dens to sleep while feeding on the body fat they have stored during summer and spring.

When raccoons hibernate, their body temperature and heart rate will drop significantly. Raccoons will only wake up when they need to drink water or relieve themselves. They can do this for up to a month.

While they tend to be weak during the harsh winter, you might still spot them searching for food. Or, you may see them in porches and attics on your property, as these are ideal places for winter.

How to Keep Raccoons From Your Property

Now that you know what raccoons eat, it’s time to talk about how to keep them away from your property. The best way to do this is by keeping your trash can lids secured. 

Raccoons are attracted to trash because it contains food that they like to eat. And the mix of leftovers develops an attractive smell that they don’t hesitate to trace. If you don’t want them ransacking through your garbage, you should invest in a heavy-duty trash can. These are usually metal or hard plastic, which raccoons can’t easily penetrate.

You also have to make sure your pet food is sealed tightly. Like your pets, these mammals crave them. 

Need Help With Raccoon On Your Property?

Dealing with raccoons on your property can be a hassle. Not to mention, it can also be dangerous because of the diseases they carry. If you need help getting rid of raccoons, AAAC Wildlife Removal is here to help!

Our decades of experience get the job done right. We humanely remove animals from your property and take measures to prevent them from returning. Contact us today to learn more about our services!

Conclusion

Raccoons are nocturnal animals that forage for food at night. They eat fish, snakes, snails, eggs, and any fruit they can put their claws into. They turn out to be highly adaptive too. They can switch their diet effortlessly depending on the available prey in the environment.

Raccoons use the fat they acquire during summer and spring to survive the cold winter months. There, they hibernate for months, although they’re generally considered active. And, when the cold season has calmed down, they return to their habits of rummaging through trash in search of food.

FAQs

Are You Allowed To Have Pet Raccoons?

It depends on the state or country you’re in. Some states allow domesticated raccoons, while others consider them wild animals. Keeping a pet raccoon is only legal in 14 states. So, make sure to check your local laws first.

Is there a danger in feeding raccoons?

Yes. They will keep coming back for more food if you feed them. And the closer they are to humans, the higher the risk of contracting diseases.

How long can raccoons live?

A wild raccoon can only live up to 2-3 years, while captive raccoons can live up to 20 years.

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