What Food Raccoons Can’t Eat?

Raccoons are known for their resourcefulness and adaptability, especially when it comes to food. As opportunistic omnivores, raccoons will eat just about anything they can find. However, not all foods are safe for raccoons to consume. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the natural diet of raccoons, which foods are harmful to raccoons, and the health risks associated with an inappropriate diet. We will also provide tips on how to minimize raccoons’ access to harmful foods and what to do if a raccoon ingests something dangerous.

Raccoon’s Natural Diet

Overview of raccoon’s diet in the wild

Raccoons are omnivorous animals that can thrive in a wide range of environments. Their diet primarily consists of:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Insects and larvae
  • Small mammals and amphibians
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Bird eggs and nestlings

Impact of human interaction on raccoon’s diet

As human populations continue to expand into raccoon habitats, these animals have learned to take advantage of the food sources we provide. Urban and suburban environments offer raccoons access to:

  • Garbage cans and dumpsters
  • Outdoor pet food dishes
  • Gardens and fruit trees
  • Unsecured compost bins

While these food sources may help raccoons survive, they can also expose them to harmful or unhealthy foods.

Foods Harmful to Raccoons

Processed human foods

Processed human foods can be particularly dangerous for raccoons due to their high sugar, fat, and salt content. These foods include:

  • Fast food and junk food
  • Sugary snacks and beverages
  • Salty chips and crackers

Specific food items to avoid

Certain human foods can be toxic or cause severe health issues for raccoons. Some of these foods are:

  • Chocolate and caffeine: can cause rapid heart rate, tremors, and seizures
  • Grapes and raisins: toxic to raccoons and can lead to kidney failure
  • Onions, garlic, and chives: can cause anemia and gastrointestinal irritation
  • Avocado: contains a toxin called persin, which can cause gastrointestinal distress
  • Nuts and seeds: can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage
  • Alcohol: toxic to raccoons and can lead to severe liver and brain damage

Foods that can cause digestive issues

Some foods may not be toxic to raccoons but can still cause digestive problems, such as:

  • Dairy products: raccoons are lactose intolerant and can experience diarrhea and gas from consuming dairy
  • Raw eggs: can contain bacteria like Salmonella and cause gastrointestinal issues
  • Yeast dough: can expand in the stomach, causing painful bloating and possible blockage
  • Large amounts of fatty foods: can lead to obesity and pancreatitis


Health Risks Associated with Inappropriate Diet

Feeding raccoons inappropriate foods can lead to various health issues, including:

  • Obesity and related health issues: heart disease, joint problems, and reduced mobility
  • Malnutrition and deficiencies: lack of essential nutrients can lead to poor growth, weak immune system, and other health problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems: consuming inappropriate foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal blockages
  • Kidney and liver damage: toxic foods can damage these vital organs, leading to long-term health issues or death
  • Toxicity and poisoning: ingestion of toxic substances can cause severe health complications or even death

Minimizing Raccoons’ Access to Harmful Foods

To help keep raccoons safe and healthy, it is essential to minimize their access to harmful foods. Here are some steps you can take:

Securing garbage cans and compost bins

  • Properly seal lids to prevent raccoons from accessing the contents
  • Use raccoon-proof containers with secure latches or locking mechanisms

Pet food storage and feeding

  • Avoid leaving pet food outdoors, especially overnight
  • Clean up spilled food promptly to prevent attracting raccoons

Proper food storage at home

  • Securely store pantry items, especially those that can be toxic to raccoons
  • Minimize outdoor dining and picnicking, or clean up food and waste thoroughly afterward

Educating others

  • Inform neighbors and community members about the dangers of feeding raccoons
  • Raise awareness about the importance of responsible wildlife interaction

What To Do If a Raccoon Ingests Harmful Foods

If you suspect a raccoon has ingested harmful foods, it’s crucial to act quickly and responsibly.

Identifying signs of illness

Watch for the following symptoms that may indicate a raccoon has consumed something harmful:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid heart rate

Steps to take

If you observe a raccoon displaying any of these symptoms, take the following steps:

  1. Contact local wildlife rehabilitators: They have the expertise to handle sick or injured raccoons and can provide appropriate care.
  2. Seek veterinary assistance for pet raccoons: If you have a pet raccoon, consult with your veterinarian immediately for advice and treatment.
  3. Report to local authorities if necessary: In cases of suspected poisoning or other malicious acts, notify the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation and take action.

Prevention and ongoing care

To minimize the risk of raccoons ingesting harmful foods in the future, take preventive measures like securing garbage cans and educating others. If you have a pet raccoon or are involved in wildlife rehabilitation, ensure they receive a proper diet to support their health.


Understanding which foods are harmful to raccoons is essential for their well-being and the safety of our shared environments. By taking steps to minimize their access to these dangerous foods and acting quickly when a raccoon is in distress, we can help these resourceful creatures thrive. Remember, responsible wildlife interaction is the key to promoting a harmonious relationship between humans and raccoons.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

Leave a Reply