Raccoon

Print
Category: Animal Info Pages


One of the most common mammals in North America, the raccoon can be found from Canada to Central America. They are instantly recognizable from their bandit mask and ringed tail.  They are a nocturnal animal, that most homeowners will know from their knocked over or raided garbage cans.  They can weigh between 8 and 20 pounds. The main cause of death for the raccoon is hunting and being hit by cars.

Raccoon are very intelligent creatures, with research tests showing that they were able to solve 11 of 13 complex locks, no matter what order they were put in, and remembered tasks up to 3 years later. They are also well known for their front paws which are very dexterous and very sensitive. They are able to manipulate objects with ease, although without a thumb their paws do not work as well as a monkey's.  They also have a good sense of hearing and smell.

Raccoon can be found throughout North America.  They are very adaptable to their environments, so can be found almost anywhere. Raccoon from the Northern ranges tend to be bigger than those found in the South.  They generally avoid open areas or woods of beech trees since their bark is too smooth to climb.  They can climb very well, and like to nest in hollows in trees, for shelter and for a den for raising kits.  Raccoon to tend to socialize in small groups.  Because of their adaptability they can be found in any human inhabited part of the country. They have also been introduced by accident in Germany and Japan as well as some parts of Western Asia.

Raccoon have been called the perfect omnivore.  They will eat pretty much everything they can find. They do not hunt game animals, but will eat if the opportunity presents itself in the form of bird eggs, worms, insects, but have also gone after small animals and birds themselves. They also fatten up for the winter when food is more scarce.  One of the more well known traits of the raccoon is their "washing" their food. This is actually a behavior from them foraging in the shallow waters for crayfish, minnows or other such things.  Their super sensitive paws allow them to feel what is under the mud out of sight.  Another source of food is garbage cans. Because of their agility and intelligence, raccoon can quickly get into your can and root through it for whatever smells the best to them.

While the raccoon will not attack a person on purpose, it may if it is cornered, or defending its kits.  With more and more raccoon finding easy sources of food and shelter in populated areas, there are more chances of conflict between our species.  They are also nuisance animals when it comes to chicken farms where they raid the hen houses, or on farms where they have a taste for corn. When raccoon become a problem in an urban area, they are usually trapped by Animal Control Officers. The other main problem in urban areas is that raccoon become less fearful of humans, and will sometimes will get aggressive around food sources, such as food left out for pets.  The raccoon population has grown over the years due to the decrease in demand for raccoon pelts for fur coats and caps. 

One thing to note about the raccoon, is that they are a large vector for the spread of rabies to other animals and to humans. So do not approach raccoon, and if they are acting strangely or are out during the day, get away from them and contact your local Animal Control Officer.