Animals

Can you have a raccoon as a pet?

Over the past few years we have heard at length about the pros and cons of introducing a raccoon into our homes. There have been many experts who have recorded that this small animal with an adorable face when it grows up, and with few exceptions, becomes an animal of a difficult and aggressive nature, ethologically speaking. Since it became fashionable to have a raccoon as a pet, professionals in the veterinary sector have insisted that raccoons are not domesticated animals and that their possession is irresponsible, both for environmental and health reasons, informing that they can be carriers of diseases, such as rabies, which can be transmitted both to people and to other animals that live in the home.

Raccoon abandonment is also an ecological problem

Nowadays, it is more than common to find raccoons in the ecosystems of Spain and this is due to the increasing abandonment of these specimens, since, when they reach adulthood, it is often impossible to keep them at home.

These animals, in the vast majority of cases, are abandoned by their owners as a result of the fact that they are very sensitive to being confined in flats and small spaces, such as most homes in urban areas, since, once again emphasizing the complicated nature of these animals, they can become aggressive when they are adults.

Specifically, since the first wild specimens were discovered in Spain in 2001, today we find ourselves with a major problem, translated into the existence of growing colonies of raccoons in various parts of the country, which have already been cataloged as a “plague” and a “true ecological problem”, since their presence in these ecosystems seriously threatens native species , which can end with their disappearance and this would imply an irreparable ecological loss.

The answer is overwhelming, in Spain it is NOT legal to have a raccoon as a pet , this is because it is included in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species , this inclusion carries with it a series of very important legal consequences:

In article 64, 5. of the Law of natural heritage and biodiversity , it is established that:

“The inclusion in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species entails the generic prohibition of possession, transport, traffic and trade of live specimens …”.

In addition, in the same legal text, specifically in article 80, it is established that:

“The introduction, maintenance, breeding, transport, commercialization, use, exchange, reproduction, cultivation or release in the natural environment of invasive alien species such as the raccoon, will be classified as serious or very serious infractions, depending on the harmful effects produced, penalizing from 3,001 to 200,000 euros for serious offenses and from 201,000 to 2,000,000 euros for very serious offenses, and a higher amount may be established depending on the Autonomous Community in which the damage occurs. “.

Keeping a raccoon as a pet – criminal liability

As mentioned above, many raccoons that start as “pets” when they reach adulthood and due to the lack of being in an environment that is not suitable for them and their correct development, become aggressive or destructive with their environment, which has caused many of them to end up being released into nature or the streets, that is, abandoned. Well, this conduct is typified in the Penal Code , more specifically in its article 333 , which establishes that:

“Anyone who introduces or releases non-native flora or fauna species in a way that damages the biological balance , contravening the laws or provisions of a general protective nature of flora or fauna species, will be punished with imprisonment from four months to two months. years…”.

Indeed, the adverse effects derived from the release of species classified as invasive, represent a crime included in the penal code that carries penalties of up to 2 years in prison, and this without excluding the previously described sanctions, which can exceed 2,000,000 of euros. There will be people who find it excessive or disproportionate, but what is the value of the irreparable loss of a species, due to the introduction of animals that do not belong to that habitat?

It should not be ignored that the constant reproduction and increase of raccoon specimens in the natural environment of this country has the direct consequence of taking measures to capture these specimens. For example, in the last decade in the community of Madrid more than 800 specimens have been captured in the surroundings of the rivers [1] and the situation is not very different in the rest of the regions where the presence of These animals. [2] The fate of most of these mammals once captured, although not all of them, is the sacrifice, due to the impossibility of reintroducing them in a suitable environment for them, together with the lack of means of the wildlife centers to house them all. Therefore, the introduction and possession of animals considered an invasive species, such as the raccoon, no matter how beautiful and adorable they may seem, is an unnecessary and irresponsible behavior .

Through these words reflected in EcologíaVerde, as a lover and defender of animals that I am, I want to raise awareness among all those people who have or have ever thought about having a raccoon as a pet and, beyond the criminal and administrative sanctions that It involves having and releasing these small animals, encouraging them to reflect on the fact that it is really necessary to take into account the fate that awaits them. Thus, we invite you to think that if you really consider us lovers of these animals, the appropriate way to demonstrate it is by being responsible and always thinking about their well-being, which is neither more nor less, than living in freedom in the ecosystem by they belong .

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