MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Do raccoons kill and eat pets?

Area: Zoology
Posted By: Terry Davin, Faculty,Penn Valley Community College
Date: Fri Apr 11 11:14:04 1997
Message ID: 860006685.Zo

According to the text Wild Mammals of North America edited by Chapman and Feldhamer, 
there are two general statements to be made about raccoons.  First, they are omnivores, 
meaning they will potentially eat anything.  Various studies have found in the stomachs 
and fecal matter of raccoons the following: fleshy fruits (9 + species), nuts 
(5 species), grains (5 + species), and a number of other plant species.  In addition, 
a number of invertebrates ranging from crayfish (very important in some areas) to 
insects, shrimp, earthworms, snails, and slugs are also important.  Among vertebrate 
species found are rodents (most important), muskrats, rabbits and moles. Birds, 
reptiles, amphibians and fish are also found in the diets of raccoons.

The other general statement is that raccoons are opportunistic,  They will feed on 
just about anything they can find.  Raccoons will scavenge dead animals of any size.  
Raccoons will scavenge larger animals that have died such as deer, cows and horses.  
In addition, in many areas,(as many of us have observed), raccoons will scavenge in 
garbage cans or at garbage dumps.

As to the original question, will raccoons actively seek out dogs and cats as a food 
source.  The above mentioned book makes no reference to raccoons feeding on pets.  
In addition, one of the editors of the book (Feldhamer) was my graduate advisor, and 
so I put the question to him.  He has never seen a reference to raccoons feeding on 
dogs and/or cats, and has never observed that type of behavior.  This is not to say 
that they might not scavenge on dead pets, but there are no references to raccoons 
actually "hunting" pets.  Nor is there any reference to finding remains of pets in 
the stomcah content of fecal matter.

So, I have found no evidence of raccoons feeding on pets, but given their nature,
Raccoons most likely will scavange on pets that have already died.

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