Raccoon Facts

Interesting Facts About the 'Washing Bear' Raccoons

Keeping raccoons as pets may not be a wise option; courtesy, their unpredictable behavior. However, that doesn't deny the fact that they are quite amazing in themselves.
The raccoon, also known as the common raccoon or North American raccoon, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The species is typically characterized by its dexterous front paws, which are hypersensitive in nature, and its peculiar face mask; both of which have made it famous in folklore and popular culture.

Facts about Raccoons

Did you know that the raccoon is widely considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world? Studies have revealed that it has the tendency to remember tasks that it was made to do, even after a gap of 3 years. A compilation of more of such facts is given below, with the sole purpose of making you well-acquainted with this animal.

Habitat: Even though its habitat is most often traced to deciduous and mixed forests in North America, individuals belonging to this species are also found in mountainous regions and coastal marshlands of the continent. This wide distribution of raccoons can be attributed to the fact that they can adapt to different conditions with immense ease. Owing to their exceptional adaptation skills, they are often seen in urban areas, where they are considered nuisance by the locals.

Appearance: With their body length ranging between 16 to 28 inches and weight between 8 to 20 lbs, raccoons boast of being the largest member of the Procyonidae family; other members of this family include species like kinkajous, ringtails, and cacomistles. Their grayish coat with dense underfur is perhaps their most important physical feature, as it protects them from the cold weather prevailing in their natural habitat. Their peculiar face mask―along with their tendency to raid homes in urban areas―has earned them the title 'masked bandits' in urban areas of North America.

Diet: A great deal of diversity can be seen in their dietary habits. Their diet consists of a wide variety of foods, which include invertebrates, vertebrates, as well as plant products. This variety in their diet makes raccoons omnivores, who are more inclined towards food that is available easily rather than hunting down live animals. Being nocturnal, raccoons are active at night wherein they hunt on animals smaller than them.

Lifespan: Raccoons have an average lifespan of around 5 to 8 years in the wild, but live longer in captivity. Though rare, there do exist records of individuals as old as 15 years living in captivity. To a significant extent, their short lifespan in the wild can be attributed to predation by bobcats, coyotes, great horned owls, bald eagles, etc. Other than these predators, some are killed by hunters, while others die due to collision with cars in their natural habitat.

Reproduction and Young Ones: The mating period for this species begins in January or February, and 4 to 5 young ones are born in April and May following a gestation period of around 65 days. A baby raccoon is known as a kit. Kits open their eyes around 3 weeks after their birth. Albinism is also quite common in raccoons, with albinos having a weak immune system and short lifespan. Scientists also reveal that albino raccoons can be blind and deaf at the same time.

As we said earlier, raccoons are considered pests in urban areas and therefore, people often resort to various trapping techniques to get rid of them and repellents to keep them off their property. While their native habitat lies in North America, today they are also found in some parts of Europe and Asia, where they were introduced in the mid-20th century.
North American raccoon (Procyon lotor) eating a killed squirrel
Raccoon in the sunlight.