Saturday, March 10, 2012

Freak Week 3.5: Designer Raccoons.

Now, here's where we wander into that .5 territory. There are some things that aren't quite considered domesticated, don't have show standards, but are still considered pets by some people. They are slowly developing breeds whether fans of regular domesticated animals want them to or not.

Looking for something more unusual than a cat or dog? Look no further than designer raccoons:

Yes, people keep raccoons as pets. Someone was bound to do it eventually. After all, they adapt extremely well to human habitation and have been farmed for their fur already. It's not like this is an animal that people do not know about. Everybody in America knows what raccoons are capable of after a single trash raid.

Raccoons actually come in a surprising variety of colors. Some places have white raccoons so tame that they come right up to humans without biting. In captivity, one also sees subtle variations like cinnamon, chocolate and blond. If you were in the market for a red panda, the cinnamon raccoon comes pretty darn close (if a few shades too light).


Raccoons are intelligent creatures with dextrous hands. As one breeder put it, you have to child-proof everything. Keep them away from cat food; eating too much commercial pet food can lead to gout in raccoons. They like to play with toys just like people do (but avoid Beanie Babies; the PVC pellets aren't good for them). People say that having a dog is a lot like having a kid; given the intelligence of raccoons, the same advice applies.

No matter how cute they look, raccoons are not without risk. They come with a potentially nasty parasite, Baylisascaris procyonis, which can lead to neurological damage if the latrine of the raccoon is cleaned without breathing protection on. The presence of Toxoplasma in cat feces does not seem to daunt most people, so your mileage may vary.  (Read: Get experience with carnivorid mammals, first.) You may need to get a permit to keep a raccoon, so please check your local laws before purchasing one. Yes, we know they're almost too cute to resist.

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