What Raccoons Cannot Eat: Foods That Harm

Paul West/ Pet And Wildlife Care

Raccoons are notorious for their scavenging habits, often seen rummaging through garbage with their nimble paws. But just because they can eat almost anything doesn’t mean they should. Your trash panda friends have a diet that should be handled with care.

In this article, you’ll discover the surprising list of foods that could harm these masked marauders. From the chocolate leftovers in your bin to the pits of certain fruits, we’ll dive into what could be a raccoon’s dinner disaster. Keep reading to ensure you’re not accidentally endangering your neighborhood critters.

Dangers of Feeding Raccoons

Feeding wild raccoons might seem like a kind gesture, but it’s important to understand the risks involved. Improper food can lead to health issues for raccoons, and it can also disrupt their natural foraging habits.

Your actions, though well-intentioned, can cause raccoons to become dependent on human-provided food. This dependency not only affects their ability to survive in the wild but also increases the likelihood of conflicts with humans as raccoons seek out easy meals.

Moreover, foods that are harmless to humans and pets can be toxic to raccoons. Chocolate is a well-known example, due to a compound called theobromine, which raccoons can’t metabolize. Equally dangerous are fruit pits and seeds from apples, cherries, and peaches that contain cyanide compounds. When raccoons consume these in large quantities, the results can be fatal.

Feeding habits that draw raccoons into residential areas can inadvertently put them in harm’s way. They face threats like traffic, potential poaching, or unintentional poisoning from other foods that are safe for humans but dangerous to raccoons. Trash cans overflowing with leftover food can entice raccoons onto properties, leading to damaged gardens, soiled outdoor areas, and even the chance of raccoons attempting to enter homes in search of more.

It’s crucial to remember that human interaction, even when aimed at helping wildlife, sometimes does more harm than good. The best way to support raccoons is by respecting their wild nature and allowing them to forage and feed as they have for generations. Keep trash cans securely closed, pick up fallen fruit in your yard, and avoid leaving pet food outdoors. These simple steps will protect raccoons more effectively than direct feeding ever could.

By understanding the consequences of feeding raccoons, you’re playing a vital role in preserving the delicate balance between wildlife and human habitats.

The Harmful Effects of Chocolate

Chocolate, a treat loved by many, poses serious health risks for raccoons. You might wonder why something so delightful to humans could be hazardous to these creatures. It boils down to a compound called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. While your body can easily process theobromine, raccoons cannot. Their digestive system lacks the enzymes necessary to break it down, leading to a buildup that can become toxic.

Even a small amount of chocolate can lead to symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea in raccoons. In larger doses, the theobromine in chocolate can cause heart problems, seizures, or even prove fatal. Remember, raccoons are much smaller than humans, so what seems like a negligible amount to you can be significant to them.

Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of chocolate to raccoons:

  • Milk Chocolate: While lower in theobromine, it’s still dangerous if ingested in large amounts.
  • Dark Chocolate: Highly toxic due to its high theobromine content.
  • White Chocolate: Contains negligible theobromine but is still unhealthy due to fats and sugars.

Keep chocolate well out of reach of raccoons. If you believe a raccoon has ingested chocolate, it’s crucial to contact wildlife rehabilitation professionals immediately. They’re equipped to provide the necessary care and treatment needed.

Given the risks, you’ve got to be vigilant. Keep your treats to yourself, and ensure you’re not inadvertently leaving chocolate or chocolate-containing products where a curious racoon could find them. Remember to secure your trash cans and remind neighbors to do the same. By being mindful of these facts, you’re taking active steps to protect these animals from unnecessary harm.

No-No Foods for Raccoons

When it comes to what raccoons should avoid, there are several foods that can cause them harm. You might find raccoons cute and feel tempted to share your snacks with them, but it’s crucial to resist this urge. Human food often contains ingredients that are toxic to wildlife, and raccoons are no exception.

Onions and garlic, for example, can cause oxidative damage to red blood cells in raccoons, leading to anemia. These kitchen staples may seem harmless, but they’re a definite risk to raccoons’ health. Make sure scraps containing these ingredients are secure in a sealed trash can.

Salty snacks like chips or pretzels aren’t a wise choice either. Raccoons are unable to process high amounts of salt, which can lead to excessive thirst, dehydration, and potential kidney damage. Ensure snacks are kept indoors and out of reach.

Foods high in sugar are also problematic. Sweets can lead to obesity, diabetes, and dental problems in raccoons, which is why it’s imperative to avoid feeding them cakes, candies, or any dessert remnants. This practice will not only keep raccoons safe but also discourage them from becoming dependent on humans for food.

Alcohol is another item that’s extremely hazardous to raccoons. Just a small amount can be very harmful, so it’s critical that all alcoholic beverages and containers are disposed of properly. Create a barrier around your outdoor celebration areas to prevent raccoons from accidentally consuming these substances.

Here’s a quick rundown of items to ensure stay out of raccoons’ reach:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Moldy food
  • Gum or candy
  • Any food with xylitol

Keeping raccoons safe means being mindful of the food that’s accessible to them. By securing your trash and keeping your outdoor snacks to yourself, you’re doing your part to protect these curious creatures. Remember, if you’re concerned about a raccoon’s health or encounter one in distress, contact local wildlife experts for guidance.

Toxic Fruits and Vegetables

Protecting raccoons from harmful foods extends beyond your pantry. While these creatures are known for their uncanny ability to consume a wide range of edibles, certain fruits and vegetables pose significant risks to their health. It’s crucial to keep an eye on any produce that ends up in your yard if you’re aiming to keep raccoons safe.

Tomatoes, for instance, are surprisingly risky. They contain solanine, an alkaloid that’s known to cause gastrointestinal distress in raccoons. This compound is more concentrated in the leaves and stems of tomato plants, so it’s especially dangerous if raccoons get into a garden.

Grapes and raisins are equally hazardous for raccoons. Although the exact compound that causes toxicity is still unknown, ingestion can lead to kidney failure. You might think these tiny fruits are harmless, but they can be deadly snacks for these curious animals.

  • Onions and garlic: causes anemia
  • Rhubarb leaves: poisonous oxalic acid
  • Unripe persimmons: can cause intestinal blockage
  • Raw potatoes and their skins: solanine toxicity

By keeping these foods out of reach, you’re not only helping prevent the potential harm to raccoons but also discouraging them from becoming dependent on humans for sustenance. Managing your waste and securing your compost will ensure that risky fruits and veggies don’t end up as a raccoon’s meal.

Should you notice a raccoon rummaging through your garden or trash, it’s clear they’re looking for food. Remember, though, that what might be discarded veggie scraps for you could be a toxic meal for them. It’s not just about securing food but also educating those in your community about the hazards certain foods pose to wildlife. Sharing this knowledge can make a collective impact on the wellbeing of local raccoon populations.

Protecting Raccoons in Your Neighborhood

When it comes to safeguarding local wildlife, you have a significant role to play. Raccoons are notably curious creatures that can often find themselves in sticky situations, especially when it comes to scavenging for food. Your actions can prevent these smart but vulnerable animals from consuming harmful items.

First, manage your waste responsibly. Ensure trash cans have secure lids to keep raccoons out. If these containers are left open, raccoons might binge on leftovers that could be dangerous for them. It’s critical to understand that what’s harmless to humans can be toxic to raccoons.

Fruit pits and seeds often contain toxins that are detrimental to these animals. For example, cherry pits and apple seeds contain cyanide, which can be lethal to raccoons in large amounts. Put these in a secure compost unit or dispose of them in a way that’s not accessible to wildlife.

Second, be mindful of the plants in your garden. You might adore the look of your grapevines or the taste of your home-grown onions, but for raccoons, these can be incredibly hazardous. Erect barriers or use wildlife-friendly netting to prevent raccoons from feasting on these plants.

It’s also beneficial to work with your community. Share your knowledge about the dangers of certain foods for raccoons and encourage neighbors to take similar precautions. Perhaps provide a list of raccoon-friendly plants or suggest using motion-sensor lights to deter raccoons without harming them.

By maintaining cleanliness and being proactive about securing potential food sources, you help create a safe environment for raccoons. It’s a mutual benefit—you protect the raccoons, and they’ll be less likely to cause trouble in your neighborhood. Being considerate of your furry neighbors ensures harmony and health for the entire community.


Protecting raccoons from unhealthy and toxic foods is a shared responsibility. You now know the steps to take to keep these curious creatures safe. By managing your waste effectively and securing your compost, you’re not only safeguarding raccoons but also contributing to a healthier ecosystem. Remember, erecting barriers and using wildlife-friendly netting can prevent raccoons from accessing dangerous plants. It’s also vital to spread awareness within your community about the risks certain foods pose to these animals. Together, you can ensure raccoons remain a charming and safe part of your neighborhood.

Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!