What do Raccoons Eat? Exploring Raccoon Eating Habits

common woodland animal found throughout most of North America is the raccoon. These adorable creatures are known to be curious and cunning animals with smarts that match their cute appearance.

Raccoons can be tricky creatures, as they are known to steal food and attempt to eat other animals. 

What do raccoons eat? What is their preferred diet? Read on to find out!

Raccoons feed on fish, crayfish, frogs, birds, and eggs. When it is warmer weather, raccoons eat more insects and plant material. 

They eat more meat in colder seasons to get enough protein to survive the winter.

This article will go into more detail about what raccoons eat in the wild.


raccoons will eat almost any food

Though most raccoons will eat almost any food, vegetables are essential to a raccoon’s diet. Vegetables give raccoons crucial nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Raccoons can find some vegetables at the grocery store, but they must go to the natural environment to see their favorite vegetable: the lily bulb.

These bulbs can be found in the wild and are a popular snack for raccoons. They are easy to find and pick, making them a convenient snack.

Other easy-to-find vegetables for raccoons include tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and onions. 

They also love beets, which is interesting because they are similar to a tomato in appearance and taste.

Raccoons usually eat vegetables at night because they are less visible in the dark. It is harder for predators to see them, and they are more aware of what they are eating.


While most raccoons eat a diet of insects and small animals, some eat a large amount of fruit. These raccoons are typically from areas with abundant fruit trees.

Raccoons in areas with no fruit trees have a diet of mostly insects and small animals. 

Since raccoons can adapt to almost any environment, this is not usually a problem for them.

Since they are not dependent on fruits, they can still thrive in environments with little to no fruit. 

It is important to note that while they can eat fruits, they cannot exist on them alone.

Some raccoons may occasionally eat berries or other fruits, but it is essential to remember that they are not fruit bats! 

Some people make that mistake when seeing them loot around and wash their food before eating it.

They also tend to hoard food, so it is vital to check for that.

Pet food

raccoons love eating food

Most people know that raccoons love eating food intended for pets and livestock, but few know just how often they eat pet food.

Most raccoons live off natural foods like insects, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables. 

When these foods are unavailable, raccoons search for a cat or dog food instead.

Many wildlife rehabilitation centers warn against keeping pet food out overnight, as it will likely attract a hungry raccoon.

However, if a raccoon is healthy, it can maintain a diet of natural foods. 

It can also switch between diets without any symptoms or health problems.

On the other hand, if a raccoon is poorly fed, it may develop health issues and seek alternative sources of nutrition to stay healthy.


Though most raccoons wouldn’t normally eat snails, a few species of raccoon, in particular, do. 

Those species are the northern raccoon, Neorictis parents, and the island raccoon, Paracnictis fusca.

Both of these species are native to islands. The northern raccoon is native to Canada and the U.S., while the island raccoon is native to Japan and its surrounding islands.

Snails are a large part of the diet for both island-dwelling species. Since there is a lack of predators on the islands they live on, snails can be easily gathered and eaten.

Since they can be easily gathered, there is no need for aggression regarding snails. This makes it easier for both northern and island raccoons to co-exist with them peacefully.


Along with fishes and mammals, raccoons eat crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. Because raccoons are land animals, they must find ways to get these foods.

Raccoons can dig through mud and sand to find crabs and their nests. They can also steal the hard-shelled crabs from other animals that have caught them.

Since raccoons are intelligent animals, it is easy for them to figure out how to take apart a crab or lobster so that they can eat the meat. 

They may even pull the heart out of the shell if they manage it.

Because crustaceans are so easily acquired, raccoons rarely go hungry for too long because of them. When other food sources are scarce, raccoons always have a backup plan in crustaceans.


While they may not find worms easily, they are a tasty treat for a raccoon.

Like any creature, a raccoon will go after what it wants and needs. 

Since raccoons are known to dig, they can quickly obtain worms from the dirt they dig in.

Raccoons may choose to eat worms because they are easy to get and transport. 

While a squirrel may find it harder to grab prey, a worm does not wriggle as much, making it easier to capture and eat.

Raccoons are nocturnal animals, meaning they mostly hunt at night. This is probably because most other animals are sleeping, making it easier for the raccoon to get prey. 

Worms are likely easy to find in the morning when they wake up and move around, making breakfast time early in the day for a raccoon.


As mentioned before, raccoons are quite the fishers. They will hunt down fish in a variety of ways.

They can hunt down fish in the water or out of the water. If they can’t get to the fish in the water, they will use their smarts to get them out.

They will either use their hands to pull them out or put their hands into a gauntlet of sorts that allows them to get the fish out. They can also use tools such as a net or spear to catch the fish.

Once they have your average-sized fish, they eat it immediately or store it. 

To keep it, they will usually dry it using water and heat or just let it rot and pick off the leftover meat. Then, they can hold the bones until more fuel is needed.

Dog or cat food

Although it may seem like a good idea to leave out pet food for wild animals, this can backfire.

Raccoons are known to eat cat and dog food but can over-feed on this due to their natural hunting instincts.

If a raccoon is fed regularly, it may become aggressive as they try to get more food. This can put pets and wildlife populations at risk.

Too many raccoons in one area can also spread diseases as they feed, which puts your pets at risk.

Pet food should never be left outside and should only be fed to pets that eat it during their designated feeding times

Leftover pet food should be placed in sealed containers or thrown away to prevent this from happening.

Do Raccoons Eat Birds or Other Mammals?

Raccoons are opportunistic eaters who take advantage of whatever food sources they can find. They will hunt for birds and other small mammals in the wild to supplement their diet. 

Raccoons have been known to catch and eat birds such as chickens, ducks, and pigeons, as well as small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews. 

They may even scavenge carrion if the opportunity arises. However, these animals are not a raccoon’s preferred food source, and they usually resort to hunting them only if other more accessible sources are unavailable.

What do Raccoons Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, raccoons will eat a diet similar to the one they find in the wild. This diet should include a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, insects, frogs, and crayfish. 

They also enjoy human food scraps or pet food if it is available. It is vital to provide fresh food daily and ensure that all of their dietary needs are met. 

Raccoons are omnivores and will adjust their diet according to what is available.

However, they should not be given birds or other mammals as this could make them sick. Providing them with a varied diet will ensure they remain healthy and happy.

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