There are seven species of nocturnal animals known as raccoons, found almost everywhere. These animals are omnivores, and go wherever they can find food, including moving into areas with human habitation that provide easy access to whatever we choose to leave behind.
The most well-known, the North American Raccoon, can easily be recognized by the black “mask” across its eyes, and a tail with 5 to 10 black bands.
These intelligent, curious, and adorable creatures can become a nuisance, but perhaps the biggest problem of their fearlessness around human homes is that they also attract a number of predators.
What Animals Eats Raccoons?
The natural predators of raccoons really depend on where the raccoons are located, since they can be found anywhere.
Some animals that commonly hunt raccoon include:
Given the opportunity, bobcats will hunt raccoons. Bobcats are fierce hunters, who hunt by stealth. The deathblow comes with a leaping pounce sometimes from as far as 10 feet away.
Coyotes tend to be carrion eaters. However, they are also skilled hunters, adapting their hunting style to the prey they are after. They will often eat raccoons, including adults and juveniles.
A lone coyote can kill a raccoon, so this is easy prey without the need of the pack. Raccoons avoid areas if a coyote is near, which means coyote urine could be a natural repellent.
3. Great Horned Owls
These large birds with wingspans between 48 and 60 inches, prefer to dine on juvenile raccoons. That doesn’t stop them from killing and eating an adult raccoon when they get a chance. These silent hunters use their keen eyesight to capture their prey, hunting at dusk and through the night.
4. Red and Gray Foxes
Given the opportunity, foxes will also feast on young raccoons. Solitary foxes hunt at night, stalking their prey until they are ready to pounce. Because of this, fox urine is another natural repellent for raccoons.
Since raccoons are found almost everywhere, it’s not surprising that they would be considered prey for alligators. In some rural areas, young raccoons make up the primary diet for alligators.
Alligators are opportunistic eaters, feeding on whatever is easiest to catch based on size and ease of access. Any animal stopping by for a drink is prey for an alligator, and that includes raccoons.
Again, this depends on location, but snakes like boa constrictors will feast on raccoons given the opportunity.
6. Irate Homeowners
Humans sometimes hunt raccoons for their pelt, for sport, or simply because the annoying critters are making a mess in their garbage cans. Some do choose to eat these animals, which some say are the healthiest meat you can eat.
Clearly these intelligent animals have a number of enemies, but this also depends on their location. Since raccoons themselves can be vicious, their most dangerous predators know that they are in for a fight to earn their meal.
When fighting doesn’t work, raccoons can sometimes escape in the trees. However, the best hunters will always find a way.
Here are a few more animals that enjoy raccoon as a meal.
What Mammals Eat Raccoons?
In addition to bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and humans, racoons also need to be on the alert for wolves, and other large cats like mountain lions, lynxes, and pumas.
A wolf does not need a pack to bring down a raccoon, so these are tempting treats for any lone wolves.
Mountain lions and pumas will eat both adult and young raccoons, thus helping to keep the raccoon population down.
All of these animals have an advantage over lynx in their ability to stalk prey, hunt silently, and fight viciously.
What Birds Eat Raccoons?
While the Great Horned Owl is their most dangerous enemy, raccoons can also become meals for hawks.
Raccoons are actually easy prey for hawks. Picture this, a raccoon happily foraging for food, oblivious and unsuspecting of the death coming from above.
Smaller hawks will tend to go after raccoon cubs because they are smaller and lighter–easier to carry away.
Some hawks will carry away adult raccoons, however, that is more difficult. Raccoons are excellent sources of protein, animal fat, and vitamins for hawks. How could these carnivorous birds resist such tempting prey?
What Eats Baby Raccoons?
Raccoons make excellent mothers. Baby raccoons (known as kits or cubs) are born blind, and don’t open their eyes until around 3-4 weeks old.
At around 8 weeks the cubs may venture out with their mother. They are not fully weaned from their mother until about 12 weeks. So, generally, they have their mother’s protection from predators.
However, they can fall out of their nests and get lost, leaving them to become prey for any of the above animals. They are also tempting treats when they begin wandering around and exploring with their mother.
However, the biggest risk to raccoon cubs comes from a disturbing, and perhaps surprising source. Yes, male raccoons (known as boars) will often commit infanticide to kill and eat members of their own species.
Animal behavior scientists theorize this behavior stems from wanting to pass on their own individual genes. If a female raccoon (sow) loses her cubs, she will often go back into heat, thus enabling a new boar to move in and spread his genes.
What Eats Dead Raccoons?
Any scavenger, given the opportunity, will eat a dead raccoon. This includes raccoons themselves. When living in the forest, a raccoon has no problem sustaining itself by eating a fallen comrade.
As both predator and prey, raccoons can be found anywhere. The types of predators vary depending on their location. If they are lucky, they will find a home in places where they are perfectly safe from these specific predators.
In that sense, perhaps the most dangerous predator, then, is human because raccoons have become fearless around us.
They move into human areas when food becomes scarce, and that can cause problems. Since humans will often kill them for sport and pleasure, rather than for food, raccoons risk more moving into “our” territory than anywhere else.