I've been seeing raccoons all over the place lately, probably because of the cold.

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As a reminder: Don’t give raccoons access to your garbage. Keep your garbage can lid on tight. Keep your cans in tightfitting bins, a shed, or a garage. As cute as these critters might seem, they can be an outright rascal.


Can you legally have a raccoon as a pet in Washington?

I had a co-worker in PA who had two pet raccoons. He would often bring them to visit. It's not uncommon to see these "trash pandas" as pets in the eastern United States. However, not everyone agrees on this.

From the WSDA website:

It is illegal to own animals that may infect people with rabies. Animals illegal to own under this law include:

No, it is NOT legal to have a pet raccoon in the state of Washington. It's illegal to possess wild animals in Washington. Part of the reason is the risk of rabies. According to the Washington Department of Health:

Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is almost always fatal. All warm-blooded mammals including humans are susceptible to rabies.


From the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about rabies:

Only one human has ever died from the raccoon strain of rabies.  It isn’t uncommon for a healthy raccoon to be active in the daytime, but it's highly unusual for a raccoon to be aggressive toward a person. A female may boldly defend her young, arching her back and growling or giving a loud “whoof,” and perhaps lunging at a person she deems threatening. Only very rarely will a raccoon chase after someone seen as threatening.



It is legal to have a raccoon as a pet in the following states:

Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Even in these 14 states, you might need a permit. Review the current status of raccoon pet laws in the United States before thinking about a masked bandit as a pet.

Of course, things are different in other parts of the world. There is one person known as the "Raccoon Whisperer" on YouTube who lives in Canada and well, he's earned his title. Just watch this video!

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