Everything You Need to Know About the Raccoons in New York City

Raccoons are omnivorous creatures that are prevalent in large cities. They are able to find large supplies of food, and they have no natural predators in these places. This has led to them becoming quite a pest. 

Why are they there?

Simply put, they have nowhere else to go. Humans are destroying their natural habitat and forcing them to seek refuge in densely populated areas. As their natural habitat disappears so does their ability to find food. They are forced to survive off discarded food that they are able to find in trash cans. 

How to identify a raccoon 

Raccoons are medium-sized animals that are covered in grey, black and brown fur. They also have a lighter band of fur on their tail. One of the easiest ways to identify them is by the mask-like features that dominate their face. They weigh between 9 and 30 pounds with the male being the larger of the two. 

What do they eat?

They are mostly seen digging through trash cans in search of food. However, this is not their preferred diet. In the wild, they prefer to eat insects, worms, birds, eggs, turtles, and mice. In suburban and urban areas, they will even eat pet food and birdseed. 

Do they make good pets?

They look like friendly creatures and often resemble cats. This does not mean that you can keep them as a pet. They are wild animals and by law, you are not allowed to keep them as a pet. If you come across a sick or injured raccoon you should contact a wildlife rehabilitation specialist. If they are not able to collect the raccoon, they will be able to put you in contact with the correct authorities. 

Some facts about raccoons

  • Even though many people believe that any raccoon that is out during the day is infected with rabies, this is not true. Raccoons are nocturnal creatures and are most often spotted at night. However, in some circumstances, they will venture outside. This happens most often if they are hungry. 
  • In New York City, federal authorities are attempting to vaccinate raccoons against the rabies virus. This means that they will be unable to transmit it to humans or other animals. 
  • Do not feed wild raccoons. You may feel sorry for the raccoons that you see searching for food but once you start feeding them, they will keep coming back for more. If they determine that your home is a viable source of food, they will move in. 
  • Raccoons do not wash their food before eating it. Their paws are more sensitive to touch if it is immersed in water. This is why they dunk their food in water before they eat it. It allows them to investigate their meal more closely. 
  • Raccoons will not approach you if they do not feel threatened. If you encounter a raccoon that is exhibiting violent tendencies it may be infected with the rabies virus. You should contact the relevant authorities.