Raccoons are small, from North and South America and a few tropical islands where they are a familiar sight just about everywhere because they eat just about anything.
Habitat: These very adaptable mammals live in a variety of habitats, including marshes, forests, prairies and even in cities.
Threats: Raccoons escape many predators by remaining inactive during the day in a den. While active they remain alert and can be aggressive. They are preyed on by large predators such as coyotes, wolves and large hawks or owls.
Social Behaviour: A group of racoons is a “Nursery”.
Food: Raccoons are omnivores; they will eat almost anything, including frogs, crayfish, birds, mice (and other small mammals), fruit, nuts, plants, crops, and garbage. Raccoons find much of their food in water and they will sometimes “wash” their food by dunking it in water before eating. Their latin name, lotor, means “the washer.” They are adaptable and use their dexterous front paws and long fingers to find and feast on a wide variety of fare.
Information: Raccoons have distinctive black patches around their eyes that look like a mask. They have a bushy, black-ringed tail, clawed feet, and a pointed snout. They have long fingers and toes and an acute sense of touch. Newborn raccoons do not have black eye patches or a ringed tail; these develop after a few days. Raccoons grow to be about 46-66 cm long plus a striped, furry tail 23-30 cm long.
These nocturnal (most active at night) animals have a life span of about 6 years in the wild. Raccoons in the northern parts of their range gorge themselves in spring and summer to store up body fat. They then spend much of the winter asleep in a den but do not hibernate. Their metabolic rate and temperatures remain constant during these times and they live off of their fat reserves, potentially losing as much as 50% of their body weight.
Breeding: Females have one to seven cubs in early summer after around 63 days gestation. The young raccoons often spend the first two months or so of their lives high in a tree hole. Later, mother and children move to the ground when the cubs begin to explore on their own.