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. Ever since having a pet raccoon became fashionable, veterinary professionals 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, being able to transmit them both to people and to other animals that inhabit the home.
Then, Can you have a raccoon as a pet? In this interesting article by Ecologist Verde we explain the legal aspects in Spain and much more about this mammal.
Nowadays, it is more than usual to find raccoons in the ecosystems of Spain and this is due to growing abandonment of these specimens, since, upon reaching adulthood, it is often completely impossible to keep them at home.
These animals, in the vast majority of cases, are abandoned by their owners as a consequence of the fact that they are very sensitive to being confined in flats and small spaces, such as most houses in urban areas, and because, once again emphasizing the complicated character 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 have a major problem, translated into the existence of growing raccoon colonies in various parts of the country, which have already been cataloged as "plague" and of "true ecological problem", since its presence in these ecosystems seriously threatens indigenous species, which can end with their disappearance and this would mean 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 Alien Species, this inclusion carries with it a series of very important legal consequences:
In article 64, 5 of the Natural heritage and biodiversity law, 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, the serious ones being sanctioned from 3,001 to 200,000 euros and from 201,000 to 2,000,000 euros very serious infractions, being able to establish a higher amount depending on the Autonomous Community in which the damage occurs. ".
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, they become aggressive or destructive with their environment, what has made many of them end up being released in the wild or the streets, that is, abandoned. Well, this behavior is typified in the Penal Code, more specifically in its article 333, which states that:
"Whoever introduces or releases non-native flora or fauna species so that impair the biological balance, contravening the laws or provisions of a general protective nature of the species of flora or fauna, will be punished with the imprisonment from four months to two 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 penalties described above, 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 constant reproduction and increase in raccoon specimens in the wild of this country, has as a direct consequence the taking of 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 and the situation is not very different in the rest of the regions where the presence of these animals has been found. The fate of most of these mammals once captured, though 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 a behavior as unnecessary as irresponsible.
Through these words reflected in Green Ecologist, 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 have a raccoon as a pet and, beyond the criminal and administrative sanctions involved in having and releasing these small animals, encourage 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 live freely in the ecosystem to which they belong.
In this other article by Ecologist Verde, which may also interest you, we talk about invasive species in Spain and their consequences.
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