Can You Have A Pet Raccoon In New York?

With their cute bandit faces and nimble hands, raccoons captivate many animal lovers, but is it legal to keep one as a pet in New York?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: It is illegal to keep raccoons as pets in New York. Keep reading to learn more.

This article will cover New York’s exotic pet laws, exceptions for wildlife rehabilitators, consequences for illegal possession, and legal ways for raccoon lovers to get their fix in the state.

New York’s Laws on Exotic Pets

Living in New York comes with its fair share of rules and regulations, especially when it comes to owning exotic pets. While many people may dream of having a pet raccoon, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding the ownership of these unique creatures.

Ban on possessing ‘wild animals’ without a license

In New York, there is a ban on possessing certain types of “wild animals” without a proper license. This ban is in place to protect both the animals and the public. The state defines “wild animals” as those that are not typically domesticated and can pose a threat to human safety.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), raccoons are classified as “dangerous wildlife. “ This means that owning a pet raccoon without the necessary permits is illegal in the state.

The DEC considers raccoons to be potentially dangerous due to their natural instincts and behaviors, which can include aggression and destructive behavior.

Only wildlife rehabilitators can get licenses

If you come across a raccoon in need of help, it’s important to understand that only licensed wildlife rehabilitators are legally allowed to care for and possess these animals. These professionals have the knowledge and experience to properly handle raccoons and ensure their well-being.

If you find an injured or orphaned raccoon, it’s best to contact your local wildlife rehabilitator or animal control agency. They will be able to provide guidance on what to do and can take appropriate action to help the raccoon.

While it may be disappointing for some to learn that they cannot have a pet raccoon in New York, it’s essential to prioritize the well-being of these animals and the safety of the public. There are plenty of other pets that can bring joy and companionship without breaking any laws.

For more information on New York’s laws regarding exotic pets, you can visit the official website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Exceptions for Licensed Rehabilitators

Temporary care of injured raccoons allowed

If you come across an injured raccoon in New York, there are exceptions that allow for temporary care by licensed rehabilitators. These individuals have undergone extensive training and have the necessary permits to provide medical treatment and rehabilitate injured wildlife.

They play a vital role in helping injured animals recover and return to their natural habitats. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you encounter an injured raccoon, it’s important to contact a licensed rehabilitator who can provide the necessary care and assistance.

Rigorous licensing and regulations

Becoming a licensed rehabilitator in New York is no easy task. The process involves rigorous training, examinations, and compliance with strict regulations. Licensed rehabilitators must demonstrate their knowledge of wildlife care and rehabilitation techniques, as well as their ability to meet the specific needs of raccoons.

They are also required to maintain proper facilities that meet the welfare standards set by the state. These regulations ensure that raccoons receive the best possible care and are not kept as pets or subjected to unnecessary harm.

Cannot keep as personal pets

While it may be tempting to keep a raccoon as a pet, it is important to remember that they are wild animals and not suitable for domestication. Raccoons have specific dietary, behavioral, and environmental needs that are difficult to meet in a home setting.

Additionally, raccoons can carry diseases such as rabies, which can pose a risk to both humans and other animals. It is also illegal to keep a raccoon as a pet without the proper permits and licenses. Therefore, it is best to admire raccoons from a distance and leave their care to the licensed rehabilitators who are trained to provide for their needs.

For more information about licensed rehabilitators and wildlife care in New York, you can visit the official website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at

Consequences of Illegally Possessing a Raccoon

While the idea of having a pet raccoon may seem appealing to some, it is important to understand that in New York, owning a raccoon as a pet is illegal. Violating this law can lead to severe consequences.

Violation is a misdemeanor offense

Possessing a raccoon without the proper permits and licenses is considered a misdemeanor offense in New York. This means that it is a criminal offense, albeit a less serious one compared to a felony. However, it is still a legal violation that can have lasting consequences.

Fines up to $500 plus jail time

If caught with an illegal pet raccoon, you could face hefty fines of up to $500. Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may also be subject to jail time. These penalties are in place to discourage people from illegally keeping wildlife as pets and to protect these animals from potential harm.

Seizure of the animal

If authorities discover that you are illegally keeping a raccoon as a pet, they have the right to seize the animal. This means that not only will you face legal consequences, but you will also lose the companionship of the raccoon you have grown attached to.

It is important to remember that raccoons are wild animals and are best left in their natural habitats.

For more information on the legalities of owning exotic pets and wildlife, you can visit the official website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (

Legal Ways for Raccoon Lovers to Get Their Fix

If you’re a raccoon lover living in New York, you might be wondering if it’s possible to have a pet raccoon. While it is not legal to own a raccoon as a pet in New York, there are still legal ways for raccoon enthusiasts to get their fix and contribute to the well-being of these adorable creatures.

Volunteering at Wildlife Rehab Centers

One of the best ways to satisfy your love for raccoons is by volunteering at wildlife rehab centers. These centers provide care and rehabilitation to injured or orphaned raccoons, with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild.

By volunteering your time and skills, you can directly contribute to the well-being of these animals and learn more about their behavior and needs.

Wildlife rehab centers often rely on volunteers to assist with various tasks such as feeding, cleaning enclosures, and providing enrichment activities for the raccoons. It’s a great opportunity to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures while making a positive impact on their lives.

Joining Raccoon Appreciation/Advocacy Groups

If you’re passionate about raccoons and want to connect with like-minded individuals, joining raccoon appreciation or advocacy groups can be a fantastic way to do so. These groups often organize events, workshops, and educational programs that aim to raise awareness about raccoon conservation and welfare.

By becoming a member of these groups, you’ll have the opportunity to share your love for raccoons with others who appreciate them just as much. You can participate in discussions, learn from experts in the field, and even collaborate on projects that help protect raccoons and their habitats.

Supporting Conservation Efforts

Another way to support raccoons and their conservation is by contributing to organizations that work towards their protection. Many wildlife conservation organizations focus on preserving natural habitats, conducting research, and advocating for policies that benefit raccoons and other wildlife.

By donating to these organizations or participating in their fundraising events, you can make a tangible difference in the lives of raccoons. Your support will help ensure that these creatures continue to thrive in their natural environment, and that future generations can enjoy their presence.

Remember, while owning a pet raccoon may not be legal in New York, there are still plenty of ways for raccoon lovers to engage with these incredible creatures. Whether it’s through volunteering, joining advocacy groups, or supporting conservation efforts, you can make a positive impact and satisfy your love for raccoons in a legal and meaningful way.


New York strictly prohibits keeping raccoons as pets to protect public health and safety.

But residents can still admire these masked bandits by volunteering or supporting wildlife conservation efforts in legal ways.

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