15 Things Raccoons Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips)

Commonly known as the “masked bandits,” raccoons are famed for their mischievous nature. They raid campsites and easily pry the lid of trash cans in search of a meal.

So, what do raccoons eat? Let’s dive in and find out.

Raccoons Biology And Habits

Raccoons are omnivores; hence feed on a variety of foods. Their diet includes mainly nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, insects, frogs, and crayfish.

Being nocturnal, they hunt during the night and rest during the day on high trees away from predators.

As independent creatures, the masked bandits are not known for sharing. After a hunt, they dine alone.

Their forefeet resemble that of human beings with five slender fingers. They are equipped with sharp claws to catch prey on land and in water. These features also come in handy in digging up grass and dirt in search of grub.

In addition, their paws are used for inspecting food and picking away pieces they don’t like to eat.

Like human beings, raccoons have incisors, molars, and canines used for biting, chewing, and tearing the flesh of their prey and other food substances. However, they are only known to hunt when the opportunity arises and mix their diets with fruits, nuts, and berries.

Far from being the best predators, these critters tend to go after smaller prey like snakes, frogs, and insects, which is a rewarding source of nutrients.

The scientific name for raccoons is Procyon lotor. Lotor is a Latin word meaning ‘to wash.’

If you’ve come across a raccoon or two, you’ll notice that they have a sense of table manners. Before having a meal, they tend to wash their hands or their food. Is it because they are hygienic? Or is it for some other reason? The truth behind this phenomenon is yet to be known.

Initially, they were known solely to live in forests, but they extended their range to urban areas where they coexist with human beings.

Food in urban areas is easily accessible and available throughout the year. For the ‘trash pandas’ as they are also known, this is a bonus.

What Do Raccoons Eat Most?

Like other omnivores, raccoons feed on a variety of foods. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, plants, nuts, grain, and small prey. On occasion, they are known to venture to areas inhabited by humans in search of a meal.

Raccoons will invade trash cans, compost sites, and even camps to find whatever they could lay their little paws on to fill their bellies. The food items they relish most include:

  • Amphibians- frogs are a known favorite and provide the protein required by the critter to survive.
  • Fruits- cherries, plums, berries, oranges, and even bananas provide the required minerals and vitamins needed in their diets.
  • Invertebrates- worms, mealworms, slugs, and snails are also a good source of protein much needed for their day-to-day survival.
  • Insects are also a good source of nutrients and are often easily accessible.
  • Eggs- chicken eggs, duck eggs, bird eggs, and any other eggs as they offer a ready source of protein.
  • Crayfish is by far one of the most common meals fed on by raccoons. They tend to shelter near water sources where they fish and enjoy this delicacy rich in nutrients. They are a staple diet for raccoons.
  • Corn is rich in starch and provides a heavy meal for these furry creatures.
  • Nuts- groundnuts, peanuts, acorns, beechnuts are preferred sources of fats and protein.
  • Raccoons commonly feed on these to get them through the winter season.
  • Birds- tiny birds serve as a filling meal and provide enough protein to get them through the day or night.
  • Vegetables such as sweet corn and peas are a good source of vitamin C, proteins, and carbohydrates.
  • Poultry- aside from their eggs, chicken also provides essentials required in the raccoon diet.
  • Pet food- cat and dog foods are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are key for a raccoon’s diet.
  • Rodents like rats and mice are easy to catch and are rich in nutrients.
  • Dead animals/Carrion- readily available, roadkill serves as a readily available meal and requires minimum effort to acquire.
  • Besides the above listed, they also feed on other small creatures found near water sources such as turtles, shellfish, and small reptiles.
  • Being intelligent and known problem solvers, they don’t mind working a bit harder to find food, which is usually satisfactory in the end.
  • During spring, the food consumed is stored mainly in their tails that they wrap around their bodies to keep warm in winter.
  • Raccoons eat the most during spring and summer as, during winter, they spend the most time in their dens. They may go into a long sleep for several weeks, known as torpor.
  • They may lose 14- 50% of their weight in these times as they don’t go out as much in search of food.
  • Raccoons that visit inhabited areas and may steal food left out for pets or snatch fish from ponds.

These, among many other foods, are a favorite for raccoons to eat. Their capability to adapt to different environments allows them to adjust their diets when the need arises.

Usually, they feed on almost anything they can get their paws on as long as it’s easily accessible.

Foods To Avoid Feeding Raccoons

Foods To Avoid Feeding Raccoons

You may ask yourself, “do raccoons have foods that are detrimental to their health?” Well, yes. Like other animals, a lot of foods that humans enjoy are harmful to these creatures. Most of these include junk foods.

Raccoons, like other omnivores, are susceptible to disease or death caused by a variety of foods. These foods include cocoa, coffee, chocolate, onions, garlic, other spices, avocados, guacamole, processed sugars, macadamia nuts, and raisins.

  • Cocoa, chocolate, and coffee contain theobromine that causes seizures and may lead to death.
  • Onions and other spices contain disulfides and sulfoxides, which cause anemia.
  • Avocados contain persin that causes diarrhea and heart congestion.
  • Processed sugars, candies, and chips may lead to loss of coordination and seizures. In addition, they may lead to strokes and liver failure, which may lead to death.
  • Sodas and artificial drinks contain complex sugars that destabilize their hormonal and digestive system.
  • Raccoons have long intestinal tracts that get rid of most toxins in garbage during digestion.
  • Also, their stomachs are highly acidic and will kill most harmful bacteria before they have the opportunity to harm them.
  • Despite this fact, they tend to avoid rotten foods unless they have no other choice. Hence, they also tend to steer clear of moldy foods.
  • Moldy foods may lead to severe illness. Fungus contains neurotoxins that cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and attacks among raccoons.

Therefore, when feeding raccoons, kindly avoid giving them these substances that are harmful to their health. Ensure trash is taken out on collection day to prevent raccoons from eating these foods.

Remember, the safety of these creatures is essential as well. It would be inhumane to let these creatures suffer such a cruel fate, regardless of their menacing nature.

Tips To Feeding Raccoons

Tips To Feeding Raccoons

You require an immense amount of knowledge when it comes to feeding raccoons. Why? Because improper feeding of these critters may have dire consequences. The most common being diabetes.

  • Raccoons have to be offered a wide variety of food daily. The food should be rich in protein and supplemented with other nutrients.
  • Kits (offspring of a raccoon) take six weeks before they wean off their mummy’s milk. The young ones should be allowed to eat all they want in a day. Their diets should only be limited after six months.
  • On the other hand, adult raccoons should be fed twice a day. First, in the morning, then later in the evening.
  • You can feed them grain-free dog food as a staple diet daily. It can be supplemented with eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, veggies, or prey items such as mice.
  • Mealworms, earthworms, gut-loaded crickets, and other invertebrates should be offered as double enrichment if alive.
  • Seeds and nuts should be kept as treats and shouldn’t be given in large quantities due to their high-fat levels.
  • Provide a large dish, preferably shallow, filled with water as they like to dunk their food before eating.
  • When feeding them invertebrates like crickets, offer them in a storage box or plastic bag to prevent the crickets from escaping.
  • Make feeding time more interesting by placing the food on steps or underneath objects. By doing so, you help the raccoon exercise their brains and body as well.
  • Making feeding time a challenge stimulates their brains and keeps them happy and healthy. Such activities also keep them from getting bored and becoming destructive.
  • Change their water regularly and feed them in an area that is easy to tidy up.
  • If feeding large groups of raccoons, place several plates of food in different spots to prevent them from fighting for the food.
  • Stagger their food so that they continue to forage and hunt for themselves.

Improper handling may even lead to rabies as raccoons may not bark, but they do bite. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, they are primary carriers of the rabies virus. So avoid feeding them directly with your hands.


Aside from being known menaces to society, the “masked bandits” can thrive in whatever environment they inhabit. They are well equipped to haunt, forage and even rob if necessary to sustain their survival. And this is because of their capability to adapt and adjust their diets accordingly.

28 thoughts on “15 Things Raccoons Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips)”


    • I feed my racoon in a bowl.. and she gets three square meals daily. I also have a table for her with fresh ice water and she has a wait staff in the event she is still hungry. I am also building a small condo for her with aircon so she can be more comfortable in the heat. I might buy her a pool as well and I will build a deck so she can get some sun.

      • A tv set that plays guardians of the galaxy on a loop so your racoon will have a role model like Rocket to look up to. Role models are important for a young racoon!

    • I feed a little raccoon on my property and see nothing wrong with it. He leaves my chickens alone and has a beautiful personality. My kids enjoy seeing him every night. We don’t feed him junk and we don’t treat him like a house pet. He forages freely and comes to our porch for well balanced diet too – we have a cat who willingly shares his food with the raccoons! Personally, I think you are off base here with your comments… all in capitals, which means yelling. What people should not do is feed them junk foods. Unfortunately, many do. Taking care of wild life on your property is not a crime or a bad idea. What happens if a parent dies, leaving children behind? They grieve and life goes on for them… So, if the owner moves or dies, the raccoons will continue to live a wild life. And, yes, raccoons spread diseases… not unlike humans. So, caution with all unfamiliar creatures is advisable, of course.

    • So if the racoon is starving let it starve to death? How compassionate. In a perfect you would be right, but in the real world if it comes down to life and death I’ll feed the little beasties. I live in a city in California, and my home is close to a major street. The likelihood of a racoon that has to forage for meals becomes road kill is quite high. I would rather the racoons I meet become tame and survive, than stay wild and end up stuck in the tread of someone’s tires.

    • When you type in all capital letters that is considered SCREAMING on the Internet.

      I feed my local raccoon fresh fruit, nuts and chicken eggs.

      I promise you- he was foraging just fine before I moved here and he will continue to do fine once I eventually move.

  2. How do you keep them from getting under your roof? The person we asked to get rid of these “not kill” told up that he would do the job but the cost is $14,000.00 He said they will just come back again.

    • In our area, we called a pest control company to get a raccoon out of an attic space. It cost more like $250.00 for them to leave a no kill trap, but we ended up scaring it off ourselves and then putting hard wire mesh over the two vent openings to the attic. It has been years and the attic crawl space has no more raccoons, but they are still in the neighborhood. They can tear up an attic pretty quickly and can climb straight up a wall. The mesh screen did it though.

  3. Urban sprawl and the use of herbicides and insecticides have destroyed their environment by killing their food supply. So the lofty idea of not feeding them is misplaced when the woods are cleared for condos and the lake access is blocked by housing and docks. We need wildlife corridors…to grant them peace and access to water. Why do we need acres of green grass, concrete, and pavement? We are a big part of the problem….smart alecks run them over on the roads. Soon we will terrorize them with fireworks….Just stop believing they’re in your yard…you’re in theirs!

    • So true!!! I agree that we have moved into their space, not the other way around. We try to plant shrubs and other plants for wildlife to eat, as well as not using herbicides- clover, etc. makes a great ” lawn”, too.

    • You are so right. I am in Atlanta, Georgia in an area called “Sandy Springs” -where, as you might imagine is a part of Atlanta with lots of little creeks and streams.

      “the lofty idea of not feeding them is misplaced when the woods are cleared for condos and the lake access is blocked by housing and docks” = WINNER OF THE INTERNET AWARD FOR TODAY

      Meanwhile, I’m searching on where to buy him or her some crawfish. I have put a few regular chicken eggs out and they get eaten. My main concern is that I do not want this raccoon hunting for food in the neighborhood because there are LOTS of cars.

  4. We just rescued about a 3 month old .. We have been feeding her ( yes we checked) a variety of fruits and vegies.. Along with some meats. We dont wish to keep her as a pet. But we have a nice old barn she will be released in.. As much as I’d like to keep her, she was born in the wild and that’s where she’ll be.. We do have plenty of trees and a stream behind the property.. Perfect racoon habitat..

    • Don’t Worry! Even after release she will still come around practically every day 🙂

      I rescued a little bitty baby possum last year and now I have a Giant “Friend” who comes by looking for carrots and other vegetable snacks. 🙂 He was so little- I held him in my hand. Not now though!~!! He’s HUGE

  5. I am in a suburb of Los Angeles and have a landscaped yard with drought plants ($$$$) on a drip system.

    A raccoon tore up a good portion of the drip system by biting through it. I had my drip system guy fix and it happened the next night.

    I have a trap $175 for two weeks and for the last two nights NOTHIN! The trap guy will come get the critter for $65.

    If I get my own trap and trap it what do I do with it? I hate the thought of killing (I couldn’t) but I have quite an investment in my yard.


  6. If its a female make sure she’s not nursing. If she has babies hiding somewhere they’ll be without a mother to raise them.Try trapping her and relocating her about 1 to 2 miles away.. Good Luck!

  7. I need some advice. A mother raccoon brought her babies around. (There were three in the beginning but I think one was eaten by coyotes do now they ere are only 2). I would see them occasionally but it looked like mom was not doing well (she did not have any signs of distemper or rabies). She died and left the babies alone. I think they were about 4 months old.(??). I could hear them crying so I gave them some dog kibble. Of course they kept coming back and I started feeding them almost every day because I don’t know if they know how to forage. I don’t want them to become dependant on me, but I also don’t want them to starve. Plus my backyard is fenced in and keeps them safe from the coyotes.
    What should I do? Cut them off? Now they have lost their fear of humans and they follow me around like a dog. I don’t know what to do with them.

    • Keep feeding them. Soon they’ll partially hibernate but they need good food (high quality dog food along with fruits and nuts) to store up for their partial hibernation. They will still forage, it comes through naturally to them.

      I recommend calling a raccoon protective agency in your state -many states now have oral vaccines you can feed them to vaccinate them for rabies.

      They are sweet critters, and they get along with feral cats and another wildlife. The only time they don’t get along is when they are starving or threatened.

    • I’d suggest calling a local animal rescue/rehab facility. They may trap and remove the little ones, so that they can be taught how to forage properly. Or, they might be able to give you some info on how to teach them yourself. Without some assistance, the kits aren’t likely to thrive.

      I feed a couple of raccoons in my yard. I put grain-free dog kibble and fruit/veg in different parts of the yard, so that the raccoons need to hunt for it.

  8. To wean the little raccoons off of human feeding, perhaps start sprinkling the dog kibble in various spots around your yard. That way they have to forage for it. Make it easy at first and let them see where you are sprinkling it, as they have no mother to show them. Next try spreading it thinner and further. Put it in nooks and crannies in trees, etc. so they learn to hunt and forage. Make sure there is water somewhere on the property, but not near your house.
    I recently read that orphan raccoons will be adopted by other mommy raccoons in the area. They respond to their cries.
    So if you have just started feeding you may be able to back off and see what happens. If they are already dependent on you, then I would do a slow weaning from the food, once they are four months old.
    I started feeding a couple of raccoons last winter during a cold spell. Of course the females are pregnant during the winter so I felt bad for them. Then I couldn’t stop because they brought their tiny kits along in the spring and they were so adorable I couldn’t resist them. Over the summer I was seeing a total of 15 raccoons coming to my porch for dog kibble. They had spread the word. It is costing me $60 a week! I decided that this has gotten out of hand both financially and also the babies are learning that this is how they get their food instead of learning to forage. The babies are now 4 months old. I am gradually weaning them off the kibble and hopefully the now fat mothers will show them how to forage. It’s difficult as the baby cries are irresistible but I am staying strong for the benefit of the raccoons and myself. Also, they have been very destructive to our birdfeeders, vegetable garden and compost as well as stripping my fig trees. Please be aware that these little babies will all have babies next spring and before you know it you will have 20 raccoons begging for food. Stop before it’s too late. Time for them to go. You might even have to be mean and chase them off, like parents in the wild will do when they get older.
    PS – I read that if they are hungry enough they will go after mice and rats, which would be a good thing on my property!

    • Just buy the ultra-cheap dog food in the big 25 lb. bag (Around $7-10 bucks). I think you can actually order it off of Walmart delivered and everything.

      You can measure out a whole 1-2 lbs. of food every day and it will still last 2 weeks or more…. Cost: $.74 cents a day, which seems like a pretty good deal for them to kill the snakes in the yard- AND you get to sit back, take pictures of them, and feel their comfort.

  9. Thank you for looking after the Mitzi, that was very kind of you.
    I don’t know where you are but if you can get in contact with a wildlife rehabilitator in your area they may help you.
    Please don’t cut them off entirely, they are depending on that food source.
    If you just leave less food out and less enticing food they may move on just on their own. Mom stays with them for quite a while but when the reach sexual maturity they will probably leave on their own.
    thank you for being an earth angel to them

  10. I have adopted a crippled baby racoon who eats with my outside cats on my back porch every morning and afternoon like clockwork. She is extremely friendly, but unfortunately has trouble with her hips and right leg so she mostly crawls. She also has mimicked the cats in their outside environment and eating habits She does not eat like the other racoons that have visits us. She cannot stand and eat with her front paws, but instead nudges the cats and eats by their side much like the cats do. It is hilarious to see her afternoon play time. Whether it is a leaf or a toy I have outside she grabs it with her front paws and rolls around with them. Last week we decided to name it “Fione.” So, I guess it is officially a pet now. They are amazing animals!!!


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