do raccoons eat dead animals

Do Raccoons Eat Dead Animals?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton
Last updated on:

Raccoons are known to be messy feeders but they can be scavengers as well. They are also lazy, opportunistic feeders, and they eat anything that falls within their grasp. While they do so with live animals and plants, do raccoons eat dead animals too?

Do Raccoons Eat Dead Animals?

Yes, they do. Raccoons get as much protein from dead animals as they would from live animals. According to wildlife NYC, raccoons eat leftover meat and even dead animals. They dig into the trash to scavenge and search for leftovers of meat and any type of food.  

One reason why these animals prefer dead animals is that they do not have to hunt and chase their prey to eat. Dead animals are like a jackpot meal for them since they appear on a good platter without any effort on their part. That said, they don’t care about where the dead meat comes from, whether it’s from a trash can or wildlife. Raccoons will devour it. 

However, there is one thing raccoons stay away from when scavenging- meat that has mildew or meat that smells. 

This means that if the animal a raccoon finds has been dead for days or weeks and now has fungal hyphae, they won’t eat it. Dead animals provide the same amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals they get from other animals that they hunt, chase, and catch.

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Do Raccoons Get Sick From Eating Dead Animals?

A raccoon’s saliva acts as an antiseptic that prevents it from getting sick from ingested food substances. In essence, their saliva helps them purify everything they eat, including dead animals. Dead animals are raw meat. However, this raw meat carries bacteria and germs that could be harmful to any predator that eats it. But raccoons are an exception due to their spittle.

Aside from the antiseptic saliva raccoons have, their stomach acid is strong enough to digest any raw meat, and kill any leftover germs that their saliva may have missed. 

Eddie Uwa in Pestclue says that one known type of meat raccoons always avoid is carrion. Carrion refers to the decaying flesh of dead animals. It contains bacteria that cannot be killed with antiseptic saliva and stomach acid. Therefore, raccoons stay away from carrion because this prolonged dead matter can get them sick.

Do Raccoons Prefer Dead Animals?

As earlier stated, raccoons are scavengers and opportunistic eaters. So there is no food they “prefer” since they eat practically anything. Dead animals are bonus foods that provide them with the required nutrients and the good thing about them is that they don’t have to chase such animals to catch and eat them. 

Raccoons feed on dead animals because they like them just like they like other meals. What’s more? Dead animals provide much energy that they can conserve for later use, especially during winter.

In summary, therefore, dead animals are not a thing of preference to raccoons because they are wide-range eaters. So, you will not find a raccoon giving up a chance to feed on the dead matter unless they don’t like the smell or appearance.

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Can Raccoons Eat Any Type Of Animal?

Raccoons eat a wide range of animals from crayfish and clams to birds. They can consume almost every animal they successfully hunt down or find dead. During difficult times, raccoons can scavenge and eat anything including carcasses. 

These nocturnal creatures derive various benefits from consuming different animals. For instance, clams provide raccoons with minerals and vitamins like B12 and Omega 3. Clams also provide Raccoons with iron and zinc. 

Zack DeAngelis the creator of Pest Pointers states that raccoons eat different types of animals – frogs, fishes, snails, turtles, rodents, muskrats, rabbits, mice, squirrels, rats, gophers, birds, snakes, and other reptiles. Whether they are dead or alive, raccoons will feed on them. 

Final Thoughts

Dead animals are an easy game for raccoons. Due to the structure of their teeth, raccoons can consume raw animals whether dead or alive and even plants. Their strong salivary glands and stomach acids help break down the bacteria in dead animals and prevent them from falling sick. So raccoons are free to eat dead matter and they genuinely enjoy it.

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