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Do Bears Eat Raccoons or Not?

Bears do eat raccoons, but they don’t do so often. The two animals do not meet often as raccoons are intelligent and know to stay away from bears. They also have keen senses of smell and hearing, which is helpful when identifying threats.

Bears are omnivores. They eat almost anything, as their digestive system isn’t very specialized.

But what do they eat? And do they eat raccoons?

In this article, we’ll explore whether bears hunt for and eat raccoons, and how often they do so. We’ll also explore how raccoons avoid being eaten by bears.

Do Bears Eat Raccoons

Yes, bears do eat raccoons, but they make up a very small part of their diet. Bears primarily eat plants, and the meat they do eat comes from ungulates or other small mammals.

Bears do eat raccoons, but mostly in desperate circumstances. Bears are omnivores and do eat meat from insects, fish, small mammals, and more.

They have strong paws and claws and are great climbers. Hence, they can climb into trees where many raccoon dens can be found.

When bears do eat raccoons, they’ll either use their bite to break their neck or paws and claws to kill them.

bear climbing tree

Do Black Bears Eat Raccoons?

Yes, black bears do eat raccoons when given the chance. However, they prefer to feed on berries, insects, plants, or fish.

While two animals don’t typically cross paths because raccoons are intelligent[1] and know to keep their distance.

Black bears are opportunistic omnivores, which means they’ll eat whatever is readily available. Raccoons are a common prey item for black bears, especially during times of food scarcity.

Do Bears Hunt Racoons?

No, bears don’t actively hunt for raccoons. They will take advantage if a raccoon comes by, but it rarely happens.

Raccoons are one of many animals that know to stay away from bears. They’re intelligent enough to understand that they’re no match for a bear, and would only get hurt if they tried to fight one.

That doesn’t mean that there’s never any interaction between the two species – sometimes a raccoon will wander too close to a bears’ territory, or somewhere they’re scavenging, and it’ll end up getting eaten. 

But generally speaking, bears and raccoons steer clear of each other.

racoon in the forest

Do Bears and Raccoons Get Along?

While the two animals don’t get along, they can somewhat coexist[2]. Raccoons are aware that bears eat them, so they tend to stay away from areas where bears are known to live. 

Bears and raccoons are both scavengers, as well as hunters. They may target the same food at times, which can lead to encounters between the two.

An encounter between the two will result in the raccoons running for its life, and the bear may either chase it or return to its meal.

It’s important to remember that just because two animals can somewhat coexist doesn’t mean they get along. In fact, in most cases where bears and raccoons share space, one or both of the animals is trying to avoid contact with each other. 

Grizzlies have been known to kill and eat raccoons on occasion, but it’s not a common occurrence.

Bears and Raccoons Compete for the Same Food

Both bears and raccoons are scavengers and hence compete for the same resources at times. 

Raccoons are very versatile in what they eat and can live off of a wider variety of food sources. Most bears, on the other hand, feed primarily on plants, dead animals, fish, insects, small mammals, and ungulates.

Their common ground is scavenging, which is when they may cross paths and see each other as competitors.

What Do Bears Eat?

Bears are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat and plants[4]. Their diet depends on the season, species, and where they live.

The diet of bears depends very much on seasonality:

  • In the spring, bears eat mostly insects, fruit, and berries. 
  • In the summer, they eat more small mammals which are more accessible.
  • In the fall, they eat nuts, acorns, fish, larger prey, and plant material.
  • In the winter, they mainly eat meat from animals like deer, moose, elk, or bighorn sheep.

Bears will also eat raccoons if given the chance.

Their diet also depends on species. The polar bear primarily eats meat, while panda bears are exclusively herbivores.

Related: What do bears eat?

Grizzly Bear eating plants

What Does Habitat Loss Mean for Bears & Raccoons?

Habitat loss can be detrimental to animals. Loss of habitat has pushed bears and raccoons closer, resulting in more encounters and increased competition for food.

Bears and raccoons both live in North America. They share many of the same habitats, the most common being forested areas. These habitats are frequently destroyed in favor of human development and construction.

Loss of habitat has a few effects:

  • Increased competition for food
  • A spike in encounters
  • Worse living conditions

The population of raccoons has been increasing[5], yet they continuously lose space, hence they’re cramped up. This results in more competition, both for raccoons but also other scavengers.

lost bear on the road

What Else Hunts Raccoons?

Raccoons have several natural predators, including:

  • Foxes
  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Lynx

And more.

Foxes

Foxes are an incredibly interesting species and do eat raccoons if given the chance. The two do not cross paths often though, as raccoons are intelligent animals, and they know to keep their distance.

Foxes come out mostly at night. This is when they can quietly hunt prey. There are also fewer other predators around for them to worry about. Raccoons can be seen any time of day or night.

When the two cross paths, the fox will hunt down the raccoon.

fox eating a prey

Wolves

Wolves do not typically prey on raccoons, but they will take advantage of a raccoon passing by. 

They are social creatures who hunt in packs most of the time. When they do hunt alone, they target smaller prey, such as raccoons.

When wolves hunt, they don’t use their claws to kill their prey, but instead, use their powerful bite. They’ll wrap their teeth around their prey, snapping their neck or spine.

arctic-wolf eating

Coyotes

Coyotes are opportunistic predators and scavengers, which means that they’ll eat whatever is available to them. This can include small mammals like raccoons, as well as birds and reptiles. 

As coyotes are scavengers, they may come across raccoons feeding on carrion. Hence, the two are also competitors, competing for scraps.

Coyotes are found throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico. They’re typically shy creatures who will avoid humans whenever possible. However, they can become aggressive when threatened or when protecting their young.

coyote in canada

Lynx

Lynx eats raccoons if given the chance. The two do not cross paths often though.

Lynx do most of their hunting at night when it is dark out which gives them an advantage over other predators who prefer daylight hours. 

A large portion of a lynx’s diet consists of rabbits but they also enjoy eating rodents like squirrels or mice as well as larger prey such as deer fawns or even adult elk calves when available. 

Lynxes feed on smaller mammals more frequently than any other type of animal, possibly due to the scarcity in their natural habitat of larger prey.

Lynx in the forest

Conclusion

Bears do eat raccoons if given the chance. However, most bears tend to feed more on plants, fruits, insects, and fish, than raccoons. 

Due to the intelligence of raccoons, bears don’t typically encounter them very often. Raccoons know to keep their distance from bears, and will usually only approach when the bear is asleep or unaware. 

Apart from bears, raccoons are also eaten by wolves, foxes, coyotes, and other predators.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.