Before even considering a raccoon though, be aware that they are illegal in many areas. Check with local and state/provincial regulatory bodies before pursuing the idea of having a raccoon as a pet. If raccoons are legal where you are, then the search is on. It is best to obtain them from a breeder, although one may be difficult to find. Some have raised orphan raccoons as pets. In any case, it is best if the raccoons are very used to being handled, a lot and from an early age. This will help make them more sociable and less prone to bite. Raccoons are prone to biting, especially if they feel threatened, so be prepared that this may happen.
Be prepared to make a commitment to a raccoon. They need lots of care and attention, as well as supervision. If well cared for it is reasonable to expect them to live for 10-15 years, so the commitment is not to be taken lightly. You need to consider who can look after the raccoon if you must go away, of if something should happen that means you cannot keep the raccoon. They can't go back to wild living once being used to the pet life! For a good perspective on the commitment, read this article from Remo's perspective.
Also find a veterinarian who will treat a raccoon. Even where raccoons are legal it may be difficult to find a vet who is willing to deal with them. Raccoons are susceptible to distemper and rabies. Although they can be vaccinated with killed rabies vaccine, in the case of a human bite incident, regulatory agencies most likely will not accept the vaccine as effective and confiscate your raccoon. Be careful!
With all that out of the way, we can look at the world of raccoons and see what sort of pets they can be.
The first group of sites includes information on pet raccoons and issues facing pet raccoon owners:
- Remo Raccoon's Home Page - Remo and his owners have a nice set of pages that include much information on what kind of pets raccoons make. In particular you may want to visit these pages: Idiosyncrasies, Should I Get One?, Raccoon FAQ, and Raccoon Training,
- Raccoons as Pets - by Diana Geiger, a good summary of the issues around keeping raccoons as pets as well as basic care information.
- Razzamatazz - A unique page, following Taz, a pet raccoon through a typical day. Unusual but good insight to raccoons as pets!
- World Wide Raccoon Web - By Seth J. Morabito, a nice page with general raccoon information, facts, news and more (not about pets, but a very nice page).
- Raccoon Info Page - By Jon. General raccoon information and some discussion of raccoons as pets.
- The Gables Raccoon World - About wild raccoon rescue, including touching personal stories. Rescue, rehabilitation, and rabies information (and also some fun raccoon coloring pages).