Where Is It Legal to Own a Raccoon – Detailed Guide

Where Is It Legal to Own a Raccoon

Where Is It Legal to Own a Raccoon? Find out answer in our detailed and comprehensive guide.

Raccoons are wild animals that are cute, clever, and curious by nature. Their masked faces and dexterous front paws make them appealing to some as potential pets. However, rules and regulations around owning raccoons as pets vary widely depending on the state and locality.

Where Is It Legal to Own a Raccoon?

What states allow pet raccoons

What states allow pet raccoons? It is legal to own a pet raccoon in 16 states: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Some key details on raccoon ownership regulations in these states:

  • Most states require permits, with costs ranging from $20-45 per year generally. Vermont and Arkansas are the only exceptions where permits are not mandated.
  • Some states stipulate raccoons must be purchased from USDA-licensed breeders within the state. Others allow captive-bred raccoons from other states with proper import permitting.
  • Restrictions may apply on the number of raccoons allowed per household. Arkansas limits owners to 5 raccoons maximum.

In which states are raccoons illegal to own as pets?

Raccoons are illegal to own as pets in most states not mentioned above. Some major states where it is prohibited:

  • California: Raccoons cannot be owned without a special prohibited species permit from the Dept of Fish and Wildlife. Even with a permit, requirements are strict and few get approval.
  • Texas: No restrictions on private ownership of exotic pets, but raccoons cannot be owned in major municipalities like Houston which expressly forbid “dangerous wild animals“.
  • Oregon & Washington: Considered “potentially dangerous animals” which require extensive permitting and caging requirements.
  • Northeast states: Most have banned raccoons and other exotic pets—including NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA.

What are important considerations for owning a pet raccoon?

While legally allowed in some areas, owning a raccoon has many challenges and downsides:

Permitting & Legal Issues

  • Research specific municipal or county laws, which may prohibit ownership despite state laws
  • Be prepared to invest time and money into permitting and licensing processes

Ethical Concerns

  • Raccoons are wild animals not truly domesticated—their needs and behaviors may not adapt well to captive life
  • Ability to provide proper enrichment and housing is critical but challenging

Public Health & Safety

  • Raccoons frequently carry rabies—bites pose major risk even if pet seems tame/healthy
  • They can be destructive and aggressive, especially when reaching maturity

Costs & Care Difficulties

  • Specialized vet care is expensive and hard to find
  • Raccoons are high maintenance—require lots of space, stimulation, baby-proofing, supervision

Can raccoons be good pets?

While a very small number of raccoons have reportedly been docile when bottle-raised or carefully rehabilitated, they remain wild animals. So called “tame” raccoons can still be unpredictable and dangerous.

Most experts advise against keeping raccoons as pets. Their needs simply do not align well with a captive domestic lifestyle long-term in the vast majority of cases.

Additionally, the potential public health hazards and legal quagmire surrounding ownership rarely make the risks worthwhile for all parties involved. Those determined to care for raccoons may better direct their efforts toward supporting wildlife rehabilitators.

Do You Need a Permit to Own a Raccoon

It is legal to own a pet raccoon in 16 states, including Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Most states require permits, with costs ranging from $20-45 per year generally.

Raccoons are illegal to own as pets in most states not mentioned above, including California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Northeast states like NY and NJ, etc. They are considered “potentially dangerous animals” or prohibited wildlife species in many areas.

To own a raccoon legally, you typically need to obtain the required permits or licenses, which often stipulate details like:

  • Purchasing from USDA-licensed in-state breeders
  • Limits on number of raccoons allowed per household
  • Minimum enclosure sizes and standards
  • Renewing the permit annually

Considerations around owning a pet raccoon include ethical concerns, public health/safety risks, high costs & care difficulties. While legal in some states, raccoons generally fare poorly in captivity and have needs unsuited for domestic life.

How to Get a Permit to Own a Raccoon

  1. Research your state laws – Only 16 states allow pet raccoons with permits: AR, DE, FL, IL, IN, ME, MI, NE, NJ, OH, OK, SD, TN, VT, WI, WY. Most other states prohibit raccoons as pets.
  2. Obtain the required permits – Most states that allow pet raccoons require either a wildlife possession permit, exotic pet permit, or non-commercial propagation license which allows captive breeding. These permits often limit the number you can own and have minimum enclosure size requirements.
  3. Purchase from a USDA licensed breeder within your state – Many states require pet raccoons to be purchased from licensed in-state breeders, not captured from the wild. Importing raccoons also requires permits.
  4. Pass a home inspection – Before issuing permits, states require a home visit by wildlife officials to check your enclosures meet specifications for safely confining raccoons.
  5. Provide proper housing, enrichment, veterinary care – Raccoons have complex needs in captivity including ample vertical and horizontal space, toys/activities, specialized vet care, etc. Meeting their welfare needs is demanding.
  6. Renew permits annually – Wildlife possession permits typically must be renewed yearly, with an associated fee around $25 per year generally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the pros and cons of owning a pet raccoon?

The main pros are that raccoons are cute, clever, and playful. The cons heavily outweigh the pros though—raccoons are destructive, prone to aggression, expensive to care for properly, and major disease risks. Most experts advise against pet raccoons.

Q: What should I know before getting a pet raccoon?

You need to thoroughly research all state and local laws and be prepared to invest significant time, money, and effort into proper permitting, housing, enrichment, supervision, and specialized veterinary care. You also need to baby proof your home and have an realistic understanding of the challenges.

Q: How much does it cost per year to own a pet raccoon?

The annual costs of owning a pet raccoon dog can easily exceed $1000-1500 per year or more. Major costs beyond typical pet food/supplies include permit fees, custom housing materials, toys/enrichment devices, damage repairs, and exotic veterinary care.

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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