The Raccoon is a common animal native to North America. It is typical to see one darting from one branch to another, or rapidly crossing a road. However, despite being apparently cute, these feisty mammals may not be good pets. Nevertheless, people do keep them, but it is not really advisable. They also have a certain kind of mysticism around them, partly because of their dexterity with using their front paw. As their fingers are free to move individually, they can actually put it too complex uses such as opening the lid of a container and unlatching windows.
This uncanny ability probably led the natives to believe in their weird powers. They make a part of the American culture. Even Native Indian tribes such as the Abenaki feature the animal as characters in their folk tales. In most of the stories, it is a clever one making its way out of a difficult situation or getting (rather, stealing) something to eat. This natural prankster is famous for its tricks even in real life. At Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma, they found a Raccoon Priests Gorget including a stylized carving of the animal. No one clearly knows what its significance is anyway.
In the 1940s, hunters literally bagged the Coon’s literally in millions because of their fur. In many places, hunting or harvesting them without a permit is not possible. It is still popular in many places as exotic game meat. Someone from Mississippi once gifted President Calvin Coolidge with a Raccoon for Thanksgiving dinner. What made this particular animal famous, that it temporarily escaped with its life, and became a White House pet (probably the only one of its kind in White House). It was a status symbol among college students in 1920s to wear a Raccoon fur coat.
Coonskin caps were very popular once. The specialty of this fur cap is in retaining the animal’s tail hanging sideways. In fact, the famous Sioux leader Spotted Tail received his name from wearing one of these headgears all the time. Television episodes showing Frontiersmen Davy Crockett wearing Coonskin caps caused an upsurge in their demand in the 1950s. Of course, harvesting them for furs is also an ethical issue. It is always advisable to wear faux furs to save the wild animal from extinction. Cinemas showing the Raccoon as a major character include the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Over the Hedge’, and ‘Rascal’.
The animal displays some rather interesting and unique behavior, especially ‘dousing’. Especially seen in captive specimens, the animal always tends to wash or douse its food in water before eating. Why it does so is unclear. However, in general, it is a destructive species and therefore not suitable for keeping at a ranch. In some places, they categorize it as a nuisance or a pest. In places where their population density is significant, they tend to nibble on electric wiring, insulation, and wood.
Not the best pets
They also destroy crops. Raccoons also have this nickname of ‘masked bandits’ due to their characteristic black eyes, and obviously because of their notorious thieving nature. It can be very difficult trying to domesticate them because of their aggressiveness. They will strip your bed sheet, cut computer cords, and tear your books. Moreover, your vet may not have adequate knowledge about its physical problems. The point is that, in case the animal is sick, there is no good treatment available even. They require high maintenance and a great deal of attention. House training is not easy and they would inevitably urinate or defecate in the most unlikely places.
Maybe, it is altogether for the best to avoid trying to domesticate them or to get too cuddly about them. Having a raccoon is sure to be troublesome! If you encounter them in the house, try calling the local animal welfare people. About farming or harvesting, do keep a note of the ethical concerns, besides the health issues. Never forego the need for a permit, if the state authorities require it. States where they have the bad reputation of being pests, you can call the pest control too. If you have a ranch, always make sure that there is no mutual disturbance among the various animals staying together.