Raccoons are sly, quick to learn opportunists and will eat practically any food item, plant or animal. They prefer corn, crayfish, fruits, and nuts, but their preferences change with the seasons and availability.
During the spring, animal matter, including invertebrates and insects makes up a large portion of their diet. Raccoons prefer crayfish (crawdads), but will also consume muskrats, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl eggs, and freshwater clams.
In summer, their diet shifts to plant matter, including vegetables like potatoes, melons and sweet corn, plus domestic fruits and nuts. Wild fruits and berries such as, cherries, gooseberries, elderberries, wild grapes and strawberries are also a favorite. They will also seek out frogs, small fish, turtles, beetle grubs, grasshoppers, earthworms, crickets, and snails.
In fall, a staple of their diet is corn; this is by far their preferred food in most areas where corn is available. They will also supplement their diet with acorns, beechnuts, hazelnuts, and grapes and will raid hornet, bumblebees, termite, and ant nests for the larvae. The raccoon is nearly immune to bee and hornet stings, thanks to a thick fur coat. It is extremely important that raccoons living in colder climates accumulate sufficient fat reserves that will carry them through winter. Raccoons do not hibernate like bears. They maintain their normal body temperature and go into an extended period of reduced activity.
In higher populated areas, raccoons will raid garbage cans, trash bags and pet food. In rural areas the Raccoon can be a serious problem to those raising domestic fowl and eggs. All types of birds from pigeons to geese must have a secure roost and run that will protect them from marauding raccoons.
A raccoon's den sites include hollow trees and logs in rural areas. Their ability to adapt to man-made structures, such as attics, barns and sheds in the more populated locations, has secured the raccoon's place with people for the future.