Procyon Lotor, commonly referred to as raccoons, is a nocturnal mammal native only to North America. It is omnivorous and highly intelligent. It is an extremely good climber and has miniature hands rather than just paws. All this information is essential to understanding raccoon behavior, both in the wild and for keeping as an exotic pet!
Nocturnal means it is active mainly from late evening through early morning, through out the night, rarely out during the day. This is important because if you see one during the day, it is possibly sick and you should not approach it. Sick animals are more likely to bite or attack as they feel vulnerable. It may also just be a young animal still searching for a place to live, in which case should still be watched, but not closely approached for the same reason.
Omnivorous means that it can and will eat anything and everything eatable. It eats fruits, vegetables, bugs birds, dead animals and even fish. It knows where to find all this, usually in the trash can at the nearest house. Raccoons must have damp or wet food as they do not possess the salivary glands of other creatures, thus they are frequently seen "washing" their food. This means that they are easy to feed pets!
But raccoons are also highly intelligent with hands, and have a good sense of smell, they usually find food no matter where it is hidden. Thus the trash can raids, stealing of dog food, invasions on porches and marauding through gardens. They can pick simple locks, know how to evade electric fences and avoid dogs; raccoons are clever. It doesn't mean that they are mean or sinister, just clever and frequently hungry.
They are not always hungry, sometimes they get well fed and the weather turns cold. When that happens, they find a dark, cozy place, roll up into a ball and sleep. It is similar to hibernation, but not the same. This can make one think the raccoon has disappeared, but it will be back as soon as the layer of fat has been used! Where do raccoons hide? They are climbing animals and prefer hollow trees.
Many of these traits will carry over from the wild and influence raccoon behavior as pets. They will climb, get into trash cans and cupboards, and put things in the water. They can be taught to be active during the day, but will still usually avoid bright lights. If they feed too much, they will curl up up to sleep for several weeks!
It is hard to change the nature of a beast, much better to just understand it and appreciate it instead!