What Eats Raccoons?

What Eats Raccoons? What Do Raccoons Eat?

Beloved by many yet considered nuisance pests by others, the unmistakable masked bandit raccoon exudes attitude and cunning charm in equal measure. 

As generalist omnivores boasting impressive intelligence, raccoons utilize an expansive skill set to thrive alongside humans ranging from wild forests to urban jungles. 

And with vastly increased habitats courtesy of human developments and agriculture, North America now teems with up to 75 million raccoons hunting food under the cover of night.

Three Raccoons Eating What Eats Raccoons
Three Raccoons Eating What Eats Raccoons

With their distinctive masked faces and mischievous intelligence, raccoons hold a special place in many people’s hearts. As opportunistic omnivores, they have adapted well to living near humans. 

But while raccoons thrive near our homes and neighbourhoods, they must still contend with predators when venturing into the wild. Several dangerous animals view raccoons as appealing prey.

Thriving raccoon populations owe greatly to a lack of natural population control. Revered as spirit animals by some Native American tribes, raccoons historically suffered limited predation pressure from indigenous peoples. 

The New World scavengers could never evade hungry predators entirely. Several lethal hunters target raccoons as choice prey thanks to their delicious meat and relatively slow speed compared to other rodents. 

Several different deadly carnivores regularly kill and feast on sweet raccoon flesh whenever the opportunity arises.


Perhaps the most frequent predator of raccoons is the adaptable coyote. As generalist carnivores, coyotes eat anything from berries to deer. But they seem especially fond of the meaty bounty presented by plump raccoons. 

Using superior speed and working in packs, coyotes run down solitary raccoons or isolate individuals from the safety of a group. They suffocate raccoons with a signature neck bite.

Coyote populations are on the rise, while habitat loss puts pressure on raccoons. This increases dangerous interactions, and coyotes can devastate local raccoon numbers when food is scarce. Still, healthy raccoon populations indicate a balanced ecosystem with prey available for coyotes without overhunting. And cagey adult raccoons have been known to ferociously battle coyotes to defend themselves or their young.


Raccoons face threats from above in the form of hungry hawks. Red-tailed hawks and great-horned owls ambush raccoons with lethal talon attacks. 

Typically, the birds swoop down on juvenile raccoons who are vulnerable while separated from their mothers. But adept avian hunters can take down adult raccoons, nearly matching them in weight given the element of surprise.

The barred owl football-sized predator, in particular, specializes in hunting terrestrial prey like raccoons at night when the nocturnal animals are most active. Barred owls lack the strength to carry such large prey. 

So they Pin down raccoons with razor talons and utilize their curved beak to systematically dismember them. Scattered bits of raccoon flesh and organs provide sustenance for owls over several days.

Clever raccoons adapt by sticking to dense covers and bodies of water that deter aerial dives when moving through exposed areas. 

And mother raccoons fiercely defend their kits from raptors. But even experienced adult raccoons sometimes fall victim to the swift, silent attack of a hawk or owl.

Black Bears

Three Raccoons In The Tree What Eats Raccoons
Three Raccoons In The Tree What Eats Raccoons

Larger carnivores like black bears also stalk and attack unwary raccoons. Though bears largely eat vegetation, they remain true omnivores that will opportunistically hunt animal protein. 

Using their keen sense of smell, black bears follow raccoon trails to track down the hiding spots of individuals or families. The bear pins raccoons with its weighty bulk and injures them with powerful swipes of its clawed paws.

Once the raccoon is immobilized and bleeding, the bear clamps its jaws down for the crushing finishing bite. Black bears then feast on the sweet, meaty sustenance provided by adult raccoons and fatty, nourishing young kits. 

This supplementary meat protein fuels black bears entering winter hibernation. And when other foods are scarce, black bears intensify efforts to sniff out and excavate dens packed with defenceless sleeping raccoons to supply vital calories.


Bobcats often stalk and kill raccoons using their excellent sight and hearing to creep close before pouncing at the last second. They dispatch raccoons quickly with a crushing bite to the back of the neck. 

Ambushing raccoons near forest streams provide bobcats with both cover for stealthy approaches and ample opportunity to catch raccoons vulnerable while foraging.

During winter, some bobcats incorporate ravines and caves into their hunting strategy. They lie in wait at the dens where raccoons hole up in torpor states during extreme cold. 

Ambushing emerging dormant raccoons make for easy prey since the sluggish animals struggle to flee. Bobcats drag off raccoon carcasses, weighing nearly their body weight to feast over several days.

Raccoons stand their best chance against bobcats while inhabiting urban areas. Their cunning and familiarity with human structures help them evade bobcats venturing into developed zones in search of food. 

But bobcats present a serious threat when raccoon territories border wildlands frequented by the stalk-and-pounce feline killers.


Foxes hunt in ways similar to coyotes, utilizing teamwork and speed to exhaust fleeing raccoons. Red foxes and grey foxes jointly attack individual raccoons split away from groups. 

Foxes grab raccoons by the hindquarters to take away their mobility advantage since they struggle to outrun healthy adult raccoons over short distances.

Once pinned down, the foxes deliver killing neck bites. Urban foxes raid trash cans and compete with raccoons for food scraps. 

So, metropolitan raccoons tend to recognize foxes as rivals rather than food. But this familiarity enhances the cunning foxes’ ability to lure young naive raccoons within striking distance when hunting away from civilization’s protection.

On occasion, foxes victimize adult raccoons, while male raccoons are most vulnerable. During winter breeding season, male raccoons roam far in search of mates, making them prone to fox attacks at the farthest reaches of their territorial ranges.

Mountain Lions

Massive mountain lion predators kill raccoons using their powerful feline physicality for takedowns, though raccoons hardly constitute substantial fare. But hungry mountain lions travelling outside their established territory due to urban sprawl increasingly find raccoons an easy meal. 

The big cats capture family groups after treed raccoons lose their balance and fall when large branches give way from the weight of too many animals.

Three Raccoons Eating Watermelon
Three Raccoons Eating Watermelon

Mountain lions also capitalize on the limitations of raccoons’ typical defence system. Raccoons ascend trees to escape danger but find themselves cornered when giant mountain lions simply wait below until they eventually have to come down. 

During desperate times, mountain lions systematically hunt every raccoon inhabiting isolated stands of trees as a series of quick high-protein snacks to hold them over until larger nourishment is found. Their sheer size and strength leave little recourse for treed raccoons.


Raccoons face threats from several lethal predators, though healthy populations thrive almost everywhere they live. Specialized hunters like coyotes, raptors, black bears, and bobcats help manage raccoon numbers as part of nature’s balance. 

Highly adaptable raccoons continue expanding their range and interacting with humans drawn to their mischievous intelligence. But their place firmly embedded in multiple food chains ensures apex predators always see masked bandit raccoons as easy pickings for a meal. 

Conflict arises when habitat loss increases contact. Yet education on preventing problematic encounters may allow peaceful coexistence. 

In nature, no population spikes go unchecked indefinitely, either prey or predator. Raccoon survival is interwoven with the hunger of other animals. 

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