Raccoons and snakes inhabit overlapping habitats and may interact in the wild, leading some to wonder – do raccoons eat snakes? As omnivorous and opportunistic eaters, raccoons have a varied diet that can include snakes. However, snakes may also prey on young raccoons in some cases.
Do Raccoons Eat Snakes?
Raccoons are known to eat snakes, including venomous ones like rattlesnakes and copperheads. As intelligent and adaptable foragers, raccoons, including reptiles, will eat almost anything they can get their paws on.
Snakes make up a small part of the raccoon diet. Raccoons are not specialized snake predators but occasionally catch and eat snakes when the opportunity arises. Baby snakes and eggs are especially vulnerable to raccoon predation.
Raccoons have developed adaptations that help them hunt and eat snakes safely:
- Thick Fur: A raccoon’s shaggy coat protects it from snake bites. Their fur helps cushion and absorb any venom that makes it through the first layer.
- Dexterous Paws: Raccoons use their hand-like paws to manipulate and hold snakes, avoiding the head and dangerous mouth area.
- Intelligence: Raccoons are intelligent and can learn to avoid the most dangerous parts of a snake. They may flip a snake over to access the belly or head area first.
- Immunity: Raccoons may have some genetic and acquired immunity against certain snake venoms, especially those in their native range. Still, bites can make them sick.
Raccoons typically target small, nonvenomous snakes like garter snakes. However, they may also go after larger pit vipers like rattlesnakes for food. Their lightning-quick reflexes help them avoid strikes.
Raccoons shake snakes violently or bash them against something hard to kill or incapacitate them before eating. They often focus on consuming the nutrient-rich organs first.
So yes, raccoons do opportunistically prey on snakes for food, aided by their intelligence, dexterity, and adaptations like thick fur. They can handle even venomous snakes but prefer harmless ones.
Do Snakes Eat Raccoons?
While raccoons will eat small snakes, the opposite is also true – some larger snake species will eat young raccoons if given a chance.
Snakes are strictly carnivorous and will eat any meat they can swallow whole. Small mammals like raccoons are perfect snake prey.
The following snakes may eat young or baby raccoons:
- Reticulated Pythons: These massive constrictors can swallow a raccoon whole.
- Rat Snakes: Rat snakes prey on various small mammals near their size.
- Kingsnakes: Opportunistic kingsnakes will take raccoons but prefer other snake prey.
- American Bull Snakes: Bull snakes target rodents but also eat other opportune prey.
- Corn Snakes: Normally docile, pet corns may attack juvenile raccoons.
Snakes squeeze their prey to death using powerful muscles before swallowing them whole and digesting them. A snake may wait days or weeks between big meals.
While snakes eat baby raccoons, most cannot eat full-grown ones. Adult raccoons are too large and dangerous for most snakes to swallow. However, giant pythons and anacondas could consume an adult raccoon.
So in some cases, the tables are turned – certain snakes will prey on young raccoons for food. But mature raccoons are safe from all but the most massive snakes.
What Else Do Raccoons Eat?
Raccoons are omnivorous generalists and eat a vast range of foods. Some other common raccoon foods include:
- Insects: Beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, etc.
- Rodents: Mice, rats, squirrels, moles, chipmunks.
- Birds: Mostly eggs and nestlings.
- Fish: Raccoons fish streams and ponds.
- Frogs and salamanders
- Turtle eggs
- Nuts and fruits: Acorns, berries, persimmons, etc.
- Human trash: Pet food, leftovers, bread, etc.
- Crops: Corn, melons, squash.
Raccoons have very adaptable, opportunistic diets. They eat various plant and animal foods based on seasonal availability. Their intelligence helps them locate and access many food sources.