do raccoons eat meat

Do Raccoons Eat Meat?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton
Last updated on:

Raccoons are most well known for looking for food leftovers in the garbage in urban areas. They eat plants and whatever else they find in the city. However, some people may be surprised that raccoons actually eat other animals too!

Do raccoons eat meat?

Yes, raccoons eat meat. Other animals are part of their diet and are very important to maintaining their health. They prey on smaller animals that are easier to catch. Raccoons are fairly lazy when it comes to hunting so they wouldn’t try to catch an agile animal. Their meat diet varies greatly.

Meat is a natural food for raccoons – they belong to the carnivores grouping, a group that is composed of mammals that are primarily meat-eaters, although many of them also eat berries, fruit, vegetables, eggs, acorns, beech and hickory nuts, grains, grasses, and bark if nothing else is available.

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What animals do raccoons eat?

Raccoons have a wide selection of animals that they eat. Those include:

  • Crayfish – Crayfish are a tasty, quick, and easy meal for raccoons, giving them the nutrients and protein they need to survive. Raccoons typically set up their homes near sources of water such as lakes, riverbeds, and bogs. These environments provide both a source of fresh water and a source of their favorite foods.
  • Clams – Clams do not move around like most other animals, so raccoons can forage for clams just like they would forage for things like nuts and seeds. This makes clams possibly the easiest and quickest animal-based meal that a raccoon can have. 

Another reason why raccoons often eat clams and other slow-moving animals such as snails is because of the way they catch their food. Raccoons have sensitive paws, and they use this heightened sense to find and catch their food. 

  • Frogs – Frogs are an excellent source of protein for raccoons, and they provide many other important nutrients as well. These nutrients include vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and potassium. As a result, frogs do not only provide an easy meal in some cases but a nutritious one as well.
  • Snakes and Reptiles – Because many lizards are fairly quick on their feet, raccoons are more likely to eat a lizard after it has died or been injured. This is also true for some species of snakes. However, young snakes tend to move slower than adults. As a result, small snakes are easier for a raccoon to catch.
  • Birds – Healthy birds that can easily fly away are a hard catch for raccoons. Like hunting for fish, raccoons will never run after a bird or leap through the air to catch one. Instead, they’ll opt for an injured bird or scavenge one that is already deceased.

Why do raccoons eat meat?

Raccoons eat meat mainly because of its nutrients. Meat is a great source of protein and vitamins that are required to stay healthy. Relying entirely on plants will lead to nutrient deficiency for raccoons.

Although raccoons do not necessarily need to eat meat for every meal, they do need to eat animals here and there to receive enough nutrients to survive.

To stay healthy and get enough nutrients, raccoons require a varied diet of many different types of plants, seeds, nuts, and animals. The typical raccoon will usually forage for whatever is easiest and takes the least amount of energy.

As for meat in their diet, raccoons need to have a balance between seafood and other meat sources such as poultry and rodents. Eggs are also a common meal for raccoons. Raccoons eat snakes as they are high on protein, carbs, and calories.

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Do raccoons eat pets?

Generally, raccoons visit your home for any plants in the garden or the garbage that you may leave outside. They are not seeking to prey on other animals. That being said, if you have a small pet like a hamster, lizard, or kitten, it is not safe to leave them outside without watching over them.

Raccoons will not attack a dog. It is too big and will probably scare the raccoon. Raccoons are not typically aggressive animals, so it is unlikely that a raccoon would stalk your cat or hunt it down in order to attack it, whether for food, protection or sport.

If it is hungry though, it will not miss the opportunity to attack a smaller animal. Do not leave your kittens or small dogs exposed to the potential danger of a raccoon coming. 

Carnivorous predators make chickens their top preference and primary target. Given the opportunity, predators like raccoons will devour chickens without any regret or consideration. Young chickens enjoy laying on bare floors at night and become easy targets for these hungry critters. 

How to deal with raccoons coming into your garden

In their quest for food, raccoons may invade your garden or, even worse, your home. They have five toes and two front feet. These toes are equipped with sharp claws that are used to capture prey on land and in water. They may also be used to dig up grass and dirt in search of grub.

What do raccoons like to eat when they come to visit your home? They’ve been known to ravage homegrown fruits and vegetables and are notorious for rummaging through garbage. They may even build nests in your attic or crawl space. Raccoons can be dangerous and are proven carriers of numerous diseases, including rabies.

Here are a few ways to deter them without harm:

  • Use ammonia or vinegar – soak tennis balls or something similar and put them on your garden fence. Raccoons hate the smell of them.
  • Cucumber – raccoons hate the smell of this vegetable and will avoid your garden if you plant it around the edges.
  • Don’t leave garbage out – trash is the biggest attractor for raccoons. If you want, you can leave them food but bear in mind they will start coming frequently as they will assume your home is a source for them. 
  • Fences – build fences around the area where your chickens or pets stay. Make sure it does not have holes and is strong enough to keep raccoons away.


In conclusion, raccoons eat meat and it is an important part of their diet. They prey on several animals such as fish and clams in bodies of water to birds, snakes, and snails. They are opportunistic predators who will not resist eating another animal. Their victims are smaller, weaker, and often injured or have died recently.

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