Raccoon, the bandit of the wild, is one gorgeous looking creature intricately carved by nature. Though its physical features resembles greatly to that of a fox or coyote, it is actually related to bears. Instilled with greater intelligence when compared to many other creatures, as the studies show, raccoons are able to remember the solutions for particular tasks up to the period of three years. Though listed as ‘Least Concerned’ creatures by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it’s a pity that their population exists twice of what it is in urban areas, than in the forested areas. Blame it to urbanization, that they are now considered as pests and carriers of rabies. But beneath these assumptions (that are true nonetheless), raccoons remain one of the most fascinating creatures there are. To focus more deeply on this ‘fascinating’ animal, we have assembled some amazingly interesting facts about raccoons. Read the sections below to broaden your knowledge about these animals..
Facts About Raccoon
Binomial Name: Procyon Lotor
Species: P. lotor
Size: 65 to 95 cm
Weight: 1.8 to 10.4 kg
Lifespan: 2 to 3 years in wild; up to 20 years in captivity
Diet: Omnivores; fruits, nuts, insects, reptiles, eggs, frogs, fish, garbage, and crops
Habitat: Hollow trees, fissures in rocks, caves, or burrow
Range: Native to Belize; Canada; Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; United States. Introduced in a few European countries as well, such as Austria; Belgium; France; Germany; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Switzerland
Age of Sexual Maturity: 2 years in males, 1 year in females
Gestation Period: 60 to 73 days
Average Litter Size: 3 to 4
Interesting and Fun Facts about Raccoon
- Racoon’s scientific name is ‘Procyon lotor’, which means ‘before-dog washer’. Although, it is a closer relative of the bear family.
- A racoons is a medium sized mammal, having a broad head, pointed snout and a bushy tail.
- The heaviest recorded racoon weighed a little over 60 pounds.
- They den in hollow trees, caves or burrows and are also known to move into muskrat house. However, they never build their homes more than 1200 feet from a permanent water source.
- The word raccoon has been derived from the Proto-Algonquin language and means “one who rubs, scrubs, and scratches with its hands”
- They can survive anywhere, living and thriving from North America to Europe to Asia (in captivity) as long as there is a water source nearby.
- They have fantastic feet. They arch their back while walking from heel to toe, with non retraceable claws. Their feet, in front and back, have five toes, making it easier to grasp and hold things.
- Raccoons are very quick; they climb the trees well, moving forward or backward on their way up or down the tree. If dropped from a height of 35 to 40 meters, they remain unharmed.
- Raccoons can run as fast as 15 mph and are also excellent swimmers. They can cross rivers and lakes with ease but seldom go into deep ventures unless being chased by a predator.
- Raccoons are ferocious fighters and if cornered, can even kill a dog.
- Raccoons do not hibernate but they can sleep for extended periods and remain inactive during severe winters. They survive with their fat which they accumulate before winters. A raccoon can lose up to 50% of its weight at the end of winters.
- The gestation period of a female raccoons, on average, is about 65 days and its gives birth to 2 to 5 kits at a time. The mother stays with its kits for around 23 hours and are raised by her until late fall.
- Newborns of a racoon do not open their eyes until they are three weeks old and stay in the den, protected by their mother, for about eight to ten weeks.
- The young ones fall prey to foxes, bobcats, owls and eagles, but they most commonly die from automobiles.
- Racoons do not form pair bonds. A male racoon associates and mates with many females each spring.
- Its mask-shaped face, with blackened eyes, is a little darker than rest of its body, rendering a raccoon the look of a bandit.
- Raccoons are a nocturnal species, which means they are most active during the night. They also have an excellent night vision and a keen sense of hearing.
- A baby raccoon will whine, chatter, and tweet like other birds when it is cold or hungry or not in contact with a warm body.
- Raccoons make as many as 51 different (scientists have found out) sounds like purrs, whimpers, snarls, growls, hisses, and screams.
- Raccoons are solitary animals and come in contact with others of their kind only for breeding.
- Racoons are omnivorous animals. They also eat acorns, leaves, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, frogs, clams, turtles, and their eggs, snakes, fish, and squirrels. In urban areas, they survive on garbage and are sometimes seen eating the roadkills.
- Raccoons don’t like tomatoes and are most likely to avoid them. It’s because of the high acidic content present in a tomato.
- The paws of a racoon are practised in picking and lifting things. They pick berries and grapes with their hands, just like the humans.
- The population of raccoons can be 20 times more in the urban areas as compared to the rural areas.
- The raccoons can be kept as pets, especially when they are young. But as they mature, they can become aggressive, especially during the mating season.
- The average life expectancy of racoons is only 1.8 to 3.1 years but they can live up to 20 years in captivity.
- In addition to the North American raccoon, there are six species of racoons. The other species live in Central American countries.
- With their manipulative paws and nimble fingers, raccoons can do a certain number of things like open doors, locks etc.
- Racoons carry rabies that they can spread to pets and people through saliva.
- They have the great ability of rotating their hind feet up to 180 degrees.
- Raccoons have also been introduced in Asia and Europe and are flourishing quite well.