Racoon Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Racoon Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Racoons are mischievous little critters known for their mask-like face and fluffy, ringed tails. 

Often depicted as scavengers, these animals have a divisive reputation. Some view them as pests, while others admire their intelligence.

So naturally, you might wonder what tattoos featuring them mean.

Racoon tattoos generally symbolize adaptability, resourcefulness, and patience. They also signify a light-hearted personality, especially one that loves playing jokes and pranks.

However, due to their sly nature, racoons can symbolize thievery, trickery, and cunning as well.


What is a Racoon?

Racoons are small, furry mammals found throughout North America.

The easiest way to identify a racoon is through its massive tail sporting black rings. Or by their adorable face, which has markings resembling an old-fashioned bandit mask.

While racoons can get as large as a small dog, they’re not a threat to people. Ordinarily, they only snarl or bite when cornered to protect themself.

Despite this, many people view these wily critters as pests.

This perception is partly due to racoons being scavengers. If you encounter one, it’s likely diving in your dumpster or trash can.

Plus, with their thief-like mask, it’s easy to see why these mammals would get a bad rap.

However, racoons are surprisingly intelligent—especially at problem-solving. 

Even cooler? These furry creatures are remarkably stealthy and agile. They can get almost anywhere without being detected. Hence their reputation as talented thieves.


What is the History of Racoon Tattoos?

Across the US, tattoos experienced a renaissance of popularity throughout the 80s and 90s.

In those days, many young adults began getting ink inspired by the natural world. Designs in the American traditional style were particularly fashionable.

Racoons perfectly fit this growing tattoo aesthetic, thanks to their cartoonish “mask” and notoriety for mischief.

As such, traditional-style ink featuring the scavenger became increasingly prevalent. Many designs depicted the critters stealing something or sneaking around.

Furthermore, people involved in counter-culture movements often identified with the animal.

Outcasts of society related to the status of these animals as pests despite their admirable qualities. And their scavenging nature was something the down-trodden could sympathize with.

As a result, the racoon tattoo emerged as a symbol of resilience and adaptability


What Do Racoons Symbolize?

Due to their complicated reputation, racoons symbolize a wide variety of (mostly good) things.

The depiction of racoons as cunning scavengers is almost universal. And many cultures have stories depicting the animal as a mischievous but good-natured rascal.

However, what’s especially surprising is that they’re known for cleanliness!

Racoons tend to coat everything they eat in water. And as a result, they’re called “washing bears” in several languages.

Here are some things racoons can symbolize in different cultures:

  • Native American – Several tribes have legends featuring racoons, often as tricksters. But they can also signify dexterity, and some believed them to be guardians of the forest.
  • Celtic folklore – in Celtic stories, racoons are known as symbols of deception and trickery. Supposedly, their mask comes from divine punishment for stealing.
  • Canada – Many Canadians increasingly see racoons as scrappy heroes and symbols of urbanization. This perception is especially true in Toronto, where they’re prevalent.
  • Japan – the Japanese “tanuki” closely resembles racoons. And similarly, they symbolize trickery and mischief thanks to their appearance.

What Do Racoon Tattoos Mean?

One reason why racoon tattoos are popular is their numerous unique meanings.

These lovable critters can symbolize physical skills, like agility and climbing. Or personality traits, such as cleverness or guile.

Additionally, racoons commonly represent mischief. So tattoos featuring them may also commemorate a crazy story or an unfortunate experience.

Here are some positive meanings behind racoon-inspired ink:

  • Cunning
  • Adaptability 
  • Finesse
  • Resilience 
  • Defiance
  • Intelligence
  • Sneakiness
  • Patience

People involved in conservation and wildlife may also get tattoos to commemorate their love for racoons. Many admire the critters for their cute looks and remarkable intelligence.

Below is a list of negative connotations of racoon tats:

  • Trickery
  • Scavenging 
  • Lawlessness
  • Deception
  • Hiding from problems
  • Poverty 
  • Decay 
  • Exile

In some cases, a racoon tattoo can also suggest a past of crime—specifically thievery. This is because the animals often get personified as bandits and scoundrels.


Where Do Racoon Tattoos Usually Go?

Most ink featuring racoons goes on the arm—particularly the forearm or right above the elbow pit.

Generally, these designs feature the animal on all fours and walking. Or, they can be a funny portrait of the critter striking a cute pose.

This placement is excellent for two reasons. 

Firstly, you can easily show off and admire your ink if it’s on your arm. And secondly, it’s typically easy to hide tattoos on your arm with a long-sleeve shirt.

Still, ink featuring racoons can look excellent almost anywhere on your body.

Below are some other places people get these tats:

  • On the side or front of the thigh
  • Along the side of the torso
  • On the calf, below the knee pit 
  • On top of the foot

Characteristics and Styles of Racoon Tattoos

Body ink featuring the racoon comes in a vast array of styles and aesthetics. And the characteristics of a piece can help determine its meaning.

Ordinarily, most racoon tattoos are done in the realistic or new school style.

Realistic tats perfectly capture the racoon’s stunning and unique appearance. They’re also great for more serious pieces, focused on appreciating natural beauty.

In contrast, the new school style exaggerates the adorable features of these critters. It’s an excellent fit for tattoos with a humorous meaning. Or if you simply enjoy vivid, eye-catching designs.

However, there are plenty of other stunning aesthetics worth exploring.

American traditional is another prominent style for racoon tattoos. These designs generally feature flowers or a compass surrounding the animal. And the racoon might be depicted holding a tiny dagger for comedic effect.

Meanwhile, watercolor tattoos of them can be visually breathtaking. The mix of vibrant hues and delicate linework beautifully complements the stark gray tones of racoons.


Racoon tattoos generally symbolize resourcefulness and resilience. Some also get the ink to signify a sly, trickster personality.

Additionally, people who work with wildlife may get tats of racoons out of love for the creature

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