Popcorn may sound like a tasty treat for your pet raccoon. But can raccoons safely eat popcorn? These animals are often classified as opportunistic eaters, meaning they tend to eat whatever they come across. But, classifications aside, we need to understand whether popcorn is safe for raccoon consumption.
Can Raccoons Eat Popcorn?
Raccoons can comfortably eat popcorn without any side effects. Raccoons are omnivores, meaning their bodies can easily digest foods from plants or animals.
However, raccoons should only consume popcorn in moderation. Large popcorn quantities may cause mild discomfort for some raccoons, especially wild ones. Also, avoid giving them any flavored popcorn.
Although raccoons do not experience any side effects when they eat popcorn, The only time popcorn can be harmful to these creatures is when the kernels are flavored or are made using crazy popcorn recipes that contain ingredients like onions.
Even though raccoons can eat popcorn without any bad effects, their owners should try to give them a more balanced diet. Naturally, raccoons benefit more from a protein-rich diet. This provides them with essential minerals and nutrients like potassium, zinc, and magnesium. They also need fruits and other plant-based food sources to get vitamins.
What Do Wild Raccoons Eat?
Raccoons are scavengers by instinct, which explains why some people call them “trash pandas.” However, these animals don’t only feed from dumpsters and leftovers left by humans. Wild raccoons are known to feed more on insects and plants and sometimes hunt small animals.
A wild raccoon’s typical diet will vary based on its surroundings and the season. Summer is the busiest feeding season for wild raccoons. During this period, raccoons living in relatively forested or plant-surrounded areas will eat small animals like frogs, mice, and worms. They also eat fruits like apples, berries, grapes, and peaches.
On the other hand, raccoons in more water-surrounded areas will indulge in aquatic treats. They go to shallow waters to find small snakes, clams, and small fish that are easy to catch. Because they do not hibernate, wild raccoons take the summer as a time to stock up on internal reserves for winter.
What Human Food Can’t Raccoons Eat?
Raccoons can eat pretty much anything that human beings can eat. As omnivores, their digestive systems can digest most of what humans can. However, trash pandas can’t enjoy everything human beings can ingest. So, here are several foods that shouldn’t come near a raccoon’s mouth.
Flavored popcorn may be a tasty treat for humans, but it is deadly for raccoons. Not just flavored popcorn, but any other flavored food you can think of. Anything from candy to baked treats and soft drinks is harmful to raccoons.
These processed flavors contain chemicals that a raccoon’s body cannot withstand. When ingested, they cause digestive malfunctions and can even poison the animal and result in death.
Like synthetic flavors, chocolate is harmful to raccoons. Typically, chocolate contains substances like caffeine and theobromine. A raccoon’s body cannot digest such compounds. Therefore, ingesting chocolate results in severe or even fatal kidney malfunctions for a raccoon.
Onions and Garlic
Although raccoons can consume plants, not all plants are safe to ingest. Onions and garlic are examples of plants that many humans can eat but would be dangerous when given to raccoons.
The reason behind raccoons’ intolerance for these spices is that they contain sulfoxides and disulfides. When ingested, sulfoxides and disulfides destroy a raccoon’s red blood cells. This leads to anemia and, subsequently, death.
How Often Should Raccoons Eat Popcorn
Raccoons can eat popcorn every day. However, popcorn shouldn’t form the bulk of their diet. Especially for pet raccoons, it’s important to let the animals have a balanced diet so they can remain healthy.
So, a handful of popcorn kernels once a day or a couple of times a week should do the trick.
Get Some Popcorn for Your Raccoon
Raccoons have no problem ingesting popcorn. This easily makes them a wonderful pet for many popcorn lovers. The animals can eat popcorn as long as it doesn’t have any extra flavors or ingredients. But raccoons shouldn’t live exclusively off of a popcorn diet. The furry animals also need protein and vitamins regularly to remain healthy.
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