Pet Raccoon Legal States [Updated 2024] From Wild to Home


Having lived in various states and being a fervent animal lover, I’ve always been intrigued by the diverse laws surrounding pet ownership. One of the most debated topics in recent years has been the legality of owning a pet raccoon.

These adorable creatures, with their mischievous eyes and dexterous paws, have captured the hearts of many. But, is it legal to own one? Let’s dive deep into the subject.


As someone who has traveled extensively and lived in various parts of the country, I’ve seen the allure of exotic pets. Raccoons, with their curious nature and playful demeanor, are no exception. However, owning a raccoon is not as straightforward as getting a cat or dog. There are legalities to consider, and each state has its own set of rules.

Raccoons are considered exotic animals, and hence, they come with a separate set of laws regarding ownership. As of now, it’s legal to own a pet raccoon in 16 states, including Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, and several others according World Population Review

Raccoon Behavior: A Personal Insight

The Playful Side of Raccoons

Playful side of Raccoons

Having interacted with raccoons during my travels, I can vouch for their playful nature. They can be akin to a puppy or even a ferret in terms of affection. Their intelligence is commendable, and they possess an impressive memory and problem-solving ability. But, like all animals, they have their quirks.

Raccoons are notorious for their mischievous behavior. They’re unpredictable, and while this can be endearing, it’s also a reason many experts advise against keeping them as pets. Their need for space is immense. They aren’t creatures that can be confined to cages or small rooms. And, if you’re not careful, they might just take a liking to your furniture or bed sheets, turning them into their personal chew toys.

The “Masked Bandit” Reputation

Raccoons and trash cans

The term “masked bandit” didn’t just come out of nowhere. Raccoons are adept at breaking through latches and secured areas. I remember an incident where a raccoon managed to open a supposedly “secure” trash can lid in one of the places I stayed. Their dexterity is both a marvel and a challenge for potential pet owners.

The term “masked bandit” didn’t just come out of nowhere. Raccoons are adept at breaking through latches and secured areas. I remember an incident where a raccoon managed to open a supposedly “secure” trash can lid in one of the places I stayed. According to Wild Aware Utah Their dexterity is both a marvel and a challenge for potential pet owners.

Raising a Pet Raccoon: Tips 

If you’re set on having a raccoon as a pet and you’re in a state that permits it, preparation is key. Think of them as toddlers – curious, playful, and potentially destructive. Child-proofing your home is a good start. Setting up a litter box, securing trash cans, and ensuring they have ample space to play is crucial.

It’s also highly recommended to have an outdoor enclosure. This gives them the freedom to explore without the risk of them causing havoc inside your home. And remember, these enclosures need a roof. Raccoons are excellent climbers!

Diet and Feeding

What raccoon eats

Raccoons have a varied diet. They’re omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. From poultry, fish, and eggs to vegetables and fruits, they have a wide range of foods they can consume. However, they can be messy eaters. I’ve witnessed a raccoon “washing” its food in water before eating, which is both amusing and messy.

It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian regarding their diet. While they can eat many things, it’s crucial to ensure they’re getting the right nutrients.

Dealing with Potential Issues

Owning a raccoon isn’t just about understanding the initial legalities. There are ongoing considerations too. What happens if your raccoon scratches or bites someone?

Given that raccoons are wild animals, there’s a risk that they might be euthanized if deemed problematic. It’s a heartbreaking scenario that no pet owner wants to face, but it’s a reality that must be considered.

The Ethical Debate: To Own or Not to Own?

The Allure of Exotic Pets

The appeal of owning an exotic pet, like a raccoon, is undeniable. Their unique behaviors, intelligence, and the sheer novelty of having such a pet can be enticing. I’ve been to gatherings where a pet raccoon was the star of the show, drawing attention and admiration from everyone present.

However, the line between admiration and exploitation can be thin. It’s essential to ask oneself: “Am I adopting this creature for the right reasons? Or is it just a novelty?”

Considering the Raccoon’s Well-being

Raccoons are wild animals. In their natural habitat, they have the freedom to roam vast areas, forage, climb, and engage in behaviors intrinsic to their species. In captivity, even with the best care, there are limitations.

I’ve seen raccoons in spacious backyards, with all the amenities they could need, yet showing signs of stress or boredom. On the other hand, I’ve also met raccoons that seemed content and well-adjusted to their domestic life. It’s a spectrum, and the well-being of the animal should always be the top priority.

Legal Implications 

Raccoon playing with the ball

Before you even think of adopting a raccoon, it’s imperative to understand the legal landscape. Many states have outright banned the ownership of raccoons due to concerns about safety, potential diseases, and the challenges of caring for a wild animal. In my travels, I’ve met many individuals who were unaware of their state’s laws and faced legal consequences as a result.

For instance, while it’s legal to own a raccoon in states like Ohio and Oklahoma, there are specific regulations and permits required. In Vermont and Arkansas, you don’t need a permit, but there are other stipulations to consider. For example, in Arkansas, the raccoon must be taken “by hand” from the wild, while in Tennessee, only a captive-born raccoon can be kept as a pet.

State Legal Status Permit Required Purchase From USDA Licensed Breeder
Arkansas Legal No Not required
Delaware Legal Yes Required
Florida Legal Yes – no cost Required
Illinois Legal Yes – $25.50 annually Required
Indiana Legal Yes – $20 annually Required
Michigan Legal Yes – $45 every 3 years Required
Nebraska Legal Yes – $33 Required
New Jersey Legal Yes – two Required
Ohio Legal Yes – $25 Required
Oklahoma Legal Yes – $48 annually Required
Rhode Island Legal No  
South Carolina Legal Yes  
South Dakota Legal Yes Not required
Tennessee Legal Yes – $31 annually Required
Texas Legal Yes  
Vermont Legal No Not required
West Virginia Legal Yes  
Wisconsin Legal Yes Required
Wyoming Legal Yes Not required
Alabama Illegal    
Alaska Illegal    
Arizona Illegal    
California Illegal    
Colorado Illegal    
Connecticut Illegal    
Georgia Illegal    
Hawaii Illegal    
Idaho Illegal    
Iowa Illegal    
Kansas Illegal    
Kentucky Illegal    
Louisiana Illegal    
Maine Illegal    
Maryland Illegal    
Massachusetts Illegal    
Minnesota Illegal    
Mississippi Illegal    
Missouri Illegal    
Montana Illegal    
Nevada Illegal    
New Hampshire Illegal    
New Mexico Illegal    
New York Illegal      
North Carolina Illegal    
North Dakota Illegal    
Oregon Illegal      
Pennsylvania Illegal    
Utah Illegal    
Virginia Illegal    
Washington Illegal    


  1. k92.3 – This source provides information on pet ownership laws, especially those related to raccoons. It is a reputable site that offers updated and accurate data on state regulations.
  2. Exotic Pet Wonderland – Given the name, this source gets into the world of exotic pets, including raccoons. It offers insights into the care, behavior, and challenges of owning such animals.
  3. mom.com – This source provide a more personal perspective on pet ownership, from the viewpoint of families or households. It offers insights into the practicalities and challenges of having a raccoon in a family setting.
  4. Wild Aware Utah – This source  focuses on wildlife in Utah and their interactions with humans. It provides information on raccoon behavior, especially in the context of them being in close proximity to human habitat
  5. WildlifeHelp.org – A source dedicated to assisting with wildlife issues. It offers guidance on what to do if you encounter a raccoon, how to care for them, or how to handle situations where they might be a nuisance or danger.
  6. Wyoming Game & Fish – This is a governmental source that provides regulations and guidelines on wildlife in Wyoming. It might offer specific rules related to the ownership or interaction with raccoons in the state.
  7. Do Raccoons Make Good Pets? – Fair Punishment – This source seems to discuss the ethical considerations of owning raccoons as pets. It might delve into the pros and cons, as well as the moral implications of keeping a wild animal in captivity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Can raccoons transmit diseases to humans?

Yes, raccoons can transmit diseases to humans, the most notable being rabies. They can also carry parasites like roundworms, which can be transmitted through their feces.

2. How long do pet raccoons live?

With proper care, a pet raccoon can live up to 5-7 years in the wild. However, in captivity and with proper care, they can live up to 15 years.

3. Are raccoons nocturnal?

Yes, raccoons are primarily nocturnal, which means they are most active during the night.

4. Can raccoons be litter trained?

Yes, with patience and consistency, raccoons can be litter trained much like cats. However, it’s essential to start when they are young.

5. What should I do if I find an injured or orphaned raccoon?

It’s best to contact local wildlife rehabilitators or animal control. They are equipped to handle and care for wild animals.

6. Can raccoons be aggressive?

While raccoons can be playful and curious, they can become aggressive, especially if they feel threatened or cornered.

7. Are there any vaccines for pet raccoons?

Yes, there are vaccines for diseases like rabies and distemper. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian familiar with exotic animals for proper care.

Final Words

Owning a pet raccoon is a unique and challenging experience. It’s not for everyone, but for those who venture into this journey, it can be incredibly rewarding. It’s essential to approach the idea with an open mind, armed with knowledge and a genuine concern for the well-being of these fascinating creatures. Remember, while they can be our companions, they are, at their core, wild animals with specific needs and behaviors. Treat them with respect, love, and care, and you’ll have a friend for life.

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