Raccoon animal<<<< Back to wild animals
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Procyonidae
- Genus: Procyon
- Conservation status: Least Concern
- Size: 40 - 70cm (16-28 inch)
- Weight: 3.5 - 9 kg (8 - 20 lbs)
- Food: Herbivore ( Plants, Grass)
- Speed: 25 km/h (15 mph)
- Predators: Bobcat, Foxes, Wolves, Mountain Lions
- Sexual Maturity: can begin to breed at one year
- Gestation Period: 63 – 65 days
- Lifespan: 12 - 16 years
- Litter size: between 1 and 7 (typically 3 - 5)
- Distinctive Feature: Very dexterous hands and feet. Black mask
Its original habitats are mixed and deciduous forests in North America but due to their adaptability they have spread in mountain areas, marshes and even urban areas. The gray coat is 90% thick, to protect from cold weather. Two of the most distinctive features are the front paws, with great dexterity and a face mask, the subject of several myths in North America.
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for up to three years.
Other names: The raccoon, common raccoon, North American raccoon, northern raccoon and colloquially as coon.
The raccoon is a medium-sized animal with a body length of 40-70 cm and a weight of 3.5-9 kg. The raccoon is usually a nocturnal and omnivorous animal, with a diet consisting of about 40% invertebrates, 33 % plants and 27 % vertebrates.
Although raccoons are usually nocturnal, they may come out during the day to take advantage of the available food sources. In spring and summer raccoons eat insects, worms and other animals. In late summer they prefer fruit, acorns and nuts. They eat birds and larger animals, but they prefer smaller ones because they are easier to catch. In the northern parts raccoons hibernate throughout the winter, greatly reducing their activity because they have a hard time finding food in the snow.
From head to back raccoons measure between 40 and 70 cm without the tail, which is usually between 20 and 40 cm. An adult’s body weight varies depending on habitat. This can be between 2 and 14 kg .It is usually between 3.5 and 9 kg. The smallest specimens can be found in south Florida, males weigh 15 to 20 % more than females. In early winter a raccoon can weigh twice as much than in spring because of the fat deposits. It is one of the mammals that experience great variations in body weight, the largest wild raccoon weighed 28.4 kg.
One raccoon feature that makes it easy to recognize is the stains around the eyes in contrast with the light colored fur. These spots resemble a bandit mask, and are a reason to be made fun of. The rounded ears are covered in white fur. Raccoons with very dark fur can be found in Germany. Their body is covered nearly 90 % with fur, protecting them from bad weather. Raccoons use the method of locomotion known as plantigrade (stepping on the sole of the foot ), they can stand only on the hind legs , examining objects with their front paws. Raccoons have short legs compared to their body and cannot run or jump on large distances.
Their maximum speed for short distances is 16-24km/h. They can sit in the water for a few hours and swim with 5 km/h. They amaze with their tree climbing despite their body weight and short paws. Raccoons have two ways of lowering the body temperature, which they can wheeze and sweat at the same time. The male’s penis, 10 cm long and strong, provides biologists with information on their reproductive capacity. Seven of the thirteen identified vocal calls are used by females and cubs. Few studies were made to determinate the mental abilities of the raccoon, most were based on tactical sense. They succeeded in 11 of the 13 experiments.
Raccoons are known for their intelligence. Studies show that they remember solutions to different problems even after 3 years. Although it was believed that raccoons are solitary, now there is evidence that they socialize by sharing their territory with raccoons of the opposite sex. Males gather in groups of 4 during the mating season for defending against eventual enemies. The action range of a raccoon is 3 hectares in urban areas and 50 square kilometers in rural areas. After a gestation period of 65 days, 2 to 5 cubs are born in spring, cubs are reared by the female until late autumn.
Although raccoons in captivity live 20 years in the wild their lifespan is 18 to 31 years, hunting and traffic accidents are the leading causes of raccoon’s deaths. During the first decades after the discovery of raccoons by members of the Christopher Columbus expedition, the first person to leave a written record about this animal, the raccoon was listed as a dog, cat, badger and even bear. Based on the evidence of some fossils found in France and Germany, raccoons lived in Europe about 25 million years ago.
Raccoons usually mate from late January to mid-March. During mating, males increase their search area to find females, and court them for 3-4 days. There are several nocturnal meetings between the male and female, prelude taking about one hour each time. The weakest males mate when the strongest males can’t, with all the available females. About a third of the females mate with more than one male. If a female loses her cubs or cannot get pregnant, she can mate with another male after 40-80 days.
After 60 - 70 days 2 to 5 cubs are born. The number of cubs varies by region: 2.5 in Alabama and 4.8 in North Dakota. Males do not get involved in raising cubs. Cubs are blind and deaf at birth but the black mask around the eyes is visible. The weight of the cubs is 60-75 g and their length is about 10 cm. When cubs reach the weight of 1 kg they start to explore the surroundings and after 6-9 weeks they start experiencing cold food. While females remain close to their mother, the males go to the northern areas and cover distances up to 20 km. However the mother shares the den with the cubs in the first winter.
Did you know that:
Raccoons wash their food with their paws before eating?
Raccoons are known for their intelligence.
raccoons are usually nocturnal.