Racoon Lifespan – How Long Do Raccoons Live

Racoon Lifespan

Do you want to know how long do raccoons live in the captivity and wild?

Raccoons in the wild typically live 2-3 years on average, they can live up to 5 years in some cases. With care as pets in captivity, racoons can live over 20 years.

A raccoon is a mammal native to North America known scientifically as Procyon lotor

Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters, consuming a wide variety of plant and animal matter. Some of their common foods are insects, rodents, frogs, acorns, berries, human trash and pet food.

They have distinct dark fur around their eyes that looks like a “bandit’s mask” which is why they are sometimes called bandits. Their fur is grayish brown to reddish brown in color and they have bushy, ringed tails.

Raccoons grow to about 2-3 feet long (including tail) and weigh around 10-30 lbs as adults. Males raccoon are slightly bigger than females on average.

Raccoons are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night. The racoon are solitary animals, except during the mating season when they come together to reproduce. Female raccoons give birth to a litter of kits, usually in the spring.

Mother raccoons have litters of 4-5 babies in the spring after ~2 month gestation period. The kits stay with their mothers for 8-10 months before leaving to establish their own territories.

Raccoon Lifespan in Captivity – How Long Do Raccoons Live In Captivity

How Long Do Raccoons Live In Captivity
How Long Do Raccoons Live In Captivity

Raccoons kept as pets or in zoos, the average captive raccoon lives between 15 to 20 years. Some have been known to live over 20 years when kept as pets or in facilities that provide high quality care.

Diet, genetics, veterinary care, housing conditions and activity levels are major factors impacting how long a captive raccoon lives. Those with excellent care and few diseases can potentially live decades.

Indoor pet raccoons tend to live longer than those kept in outdoor enclosures due to exposure to harsh weather and more pathogens/parasites outdoors.

Keeping raccoons as pets is not recommended in many places, and it may even be illegal in some areas. Raccoons are wild animals with specific dietary, social, and environmental needs that can be challenging to meet in a domestic setting. 

Also See : – Jumping Spider Lifespan

How Long Do Raccoons Live in the Wild

How Long Do Raccoons Live in the Wild
How Long Do Raccoons Live in the Wild

In the wild raccoons live between 2 to 3 years on average. 

Around 50% of wild raccoons die within their first year. High infant mortality rates due to predators, accidents, and illnesses impact wild populations.

The maximum lifespan of the racoon in the wild is 5 years, though few raccoons achieve this age due to aforementioned risks.

Raccoons living in urban areas tend to live slightly longer, averaging 3-5 years. Easy access to food and shelter increases survival rates.

Starvation, vehicle collisions, hunting/trapping by humans, and diseases such as canine distemper are common causes of early death.

Know More : – Boa constrictor Lifespan

Why Do Raccoons Live So Short

Why Do Raccoons Live So Short
Why Do Raccoons Live So Short

Raccoons in the wild have short lifespans of only 2-3 years on average, there are several factors that make their lives perilous in the wild.

High risk environment: Raccoons face many dangers from predators, cars, extreme weather, accidents, and territorial fights. Over 50% do not even survive their first year. Lack of experience puts young raccoons at risk.

Exposure to diseases: Raccoons are prone to diseases like canine distemper, rabies, leptospirosis, and parasites which often prove fatal. Lack of medical care allows illness to shorten their lives.

Harsh seasonal conditions: Raccoons can struggle with bitterly cold winters and finding reliable food/shelter. If they lack fat reserves or dens to ride out brutal weather, they perish.

Stress and injury: Frequent conflicts with other animals, territorial battles, loss of habitat, and escaping predators takes a toll through sustained stress, wounds and trauma which compounds over time.

Reproductive demand: Female raccoons invest a lot of physical resources in bearing young which can tax their health and cause them to deteriorate faster after a few breeding cycles.

The challenging natural environment raccoons reside in makes an inherently short lifespan adaptive. Only the fittest and most resilient raccoons, or those in urban settings, can achieve longevity. Lack of medical care also precipitates age-related declines. 

Also See : – Corn Snake Lifespan

Oldest Raccoon Ever Lived

Oldest Raccoon Ever Lived
Oldest Raccoon Ever Lived

The oldest known raccoon ever recorded was a captive raccoon named Bandit.

Bandit lived to be 28 years old when he died in 2002 in Virginia.

Most wild raccoons only live around 2-3 years, while captive raccoons generally live to be around 15-20 years old. So Bandit exceeded even the typical maximum lifespan for a captive raccoon by 8 years.

Bandit was acquired from a breeder as a young raccoon and lived his entire life with his owners Wendy and Scott Hankins. He far outlived the average lifespan due to his life of domestic care.

By the time Bandit was over 20 years old, he was completely blind and quite arthritic, but still enjoyed indulgences like eating popcorn and drinking ginger ale.

The Hankins family registered Bandit’s longevity achievement in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest known raccoon in history when he reached his late 20s.

Types of Raccoon

Types of Raccoon
Raccoon Species

There are several different types of raccoons recognized today, although they all belong to the same species, Procyon lotor. The most common types or subspecies include:

Northern Raccoon: The subspecies P.l. lotor inhabits most of Canada and the midwestern and northeastern United States. They have fairly dense, silvery-gray fur and are adapted to live in colder climates.

Southern Raccoon: The subspecies P.l. elucus lives across the southeastern United States, having more reddish fur and smaller cranial features.

Eastern Raccoon: P.l. maritimus dwells along the east coast into parts of Canada near the Atlantic ocean. Their fur tends to be darker and more brown than inland raccoons.

California Raccoon: As the name suggests, P.l. psora live in western coastal regions in California and Oregon. This subspecies is becoming endangered due to encroaching human development.

Florida Raccoon: P.l. inesperatus occupies the peninsula of Florida where its fur adapts to the subtropical habitat with a peppered gray appearance.

Barbados Raccoon: Having been introduced to this Caribbean island many years ago, this tiny endangered population possesses unique traits and genetics.

Differences exist between these regional types or subspecies of raccoons in North America, their fundamental behaviors, recognizable appearance and ecological roles are largely the same. They readily interbreed as a single species.

Raccoon Life Cycle

Raccoon Life Cycle
Raccoon Life Cycle

The raccoon life cycle begins in early spring when a female prepares to give birth to a litter of kits after a gestation period of about two months. Female raccoons carefully select den sites in hollow trees, rock crevices, abandoned burrows, or brush piles to bear their young.

Newborn Raccoons:

Gestation lasts about 63-65 days before a female raccoon gives birth to a litter of 3-7 kits, usually in April or May.

Newborn kits weigh just 60-75 grams and are blind, deaf, hairless and toothless at birth.

They rely completely on their mother for food, warmth and protection in the den for the first 8-10 weeks of rapid development.

Around 21 days old, their eyes and ear canals open. They start to crawl around the den and play with littermates while their mother is away.

At 8 weeks old, they weigh over 2 kg, begin walking fairly steadily, and start to accompany their mother on short trips away from the nest.

Young Raccoons:

Between 10-16 weeks old, the kits are weaned from nursing and must forage on their own with their mother’s guidance.

They continue expanding their territory and hunting/foraging skills through their first year while under their mother’s protection.

In late autumn, now weighing 6-10 kg, the juvenile raccoons finally separate from their mother and siblings to establish their own home range.


In early spring following their first winter, at just under 12 months old, they reach sexual maturity and females often mate and give birth to a litter.

Adult raccoons continue to expand their habitats and foraging abilities as they age. Annual breeding continues in females during springtime.

In the wild, raccoons seldom live past 2-3 years old. Their average lifespan only reaches 5 years at best, limited by external risks in their environment.

Exceptional raccoons in captivity, protected from most harm, have been known to survive over 20 years under intensive veterinary care and excellent nutrition.

Can You Have a Raccoon as a Pet in California?

Can You Have a Raccoon as a Pet in California
Can You Have a Raccoon as a Pet in California

No, it is illegal to keep raccoons as pets in California.

The California Code of Regulations prohibits owning, possessing, keeping, feeding, harboring, or having custody or control over any raccoon. Raccoons are classified as a rabies vector species that poses a potential health and safety threat.

While baby raccoons may seem cute and harmless, they grow quite large, reach sexual maturity at under a year old, and become aggressive and difficult to handle without proper wildlife rehabilitation training and licensing. It is not only illegal but also dangerous and irresponsible for the average person to attempt to domesticate a wild raccoon.

Some key reasons it is banned to have a pet raccoon in California:

  • They are carriers of rabies, distemper, parasites and other zoonotic diseases transmissible to humans.
  • Raccoons are destructive to household items and property with natural tendencies to scratch, bite, tear, and climb.
  • It is nearly impossible to provide proper housing, diet, veterinary care, and other essentials for a wild raccoon’s well-being in a home.
  • Abundant predators, traffic, diseases, and other perils threaten a captive raccoon’s survival if released back to the wild.

Before considering any exotic animal, always research first whether it can be legally owned in your state and county. Most states ban owning wildlife like raccoons as pets. Fines for violation can be up to $10,000 in California.

How Long Do Raccoons Live With Their Mother?

Young raccoons typically live with their mothers for 8-10 months before leaving to establish their own home ranges. 

Female raccoons give birth to litters of three to five kits in early spring, tucked away safely in cozy dens within hollow trees, rock crevices, or abandoned burrows. The tiny, blind newborns depend completely on their mothers to provide warmth, milk, stimulation, and care in these first protected confines for a couple months. 

As the kits grow bigger and more adventurous through the summer, their mothers begin to escort them on short trips outside the den, supervising as the youngsters wobble through their first steps into the great outdoors.

The kits stick by their teacher’s side for several more months as she leads them through nearby terrain, directing them to nutritious plants and modeling essential raccoon skills like climbing, foraging, hunting, and swimming. 

By late autumn, now nearly full grown at over ten pounds thanks to their mother’s provision, the juvenile raccoons strike out alone to avoid competing with next year’s litter for her attention. 

Having acquired the survival basics from patient months under her careful tutelage, the young raccoons are finally equipped to take on the challenges of winter and carve out their own place in the habitat they will likely call home for the remainder of their short yet eventful lives.

About Hailey Pruett

Hailey “Lex” Pruett is a nonbinary writer at YIHY primarily covering reptiles and amphibians. They have over five years of professional content writing experience. Additionally, they grew up on a hobby farm and have volunteered at animal shelters to gain further experience in animal care.

A longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hailey has owned and cared extensively for a wide variety of animals in their lifetime, including cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, fish, chickens, ducks, horses, llamas, rabbits, goats, and more!

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