Raccoon (Procyon lotor)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Procyonidae
Size:    Length: 18 to 31 inches (46 to 80 cm)
Weight: 8 to 46 pounds (4 to 21 kg)
Diet: Fruit, nuts, eggs and corn as well as small mammals, birds and fish
Distribution: North and Central America
Young:  1 litter of 1 to 7 per year
Animal Predators:  Wolves, pumas, coyotes, foxes, bobcats and domestic dogs
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Kit or cub   Female: Sow    Male: Boar
Lifespan: Average 5 years in the wild, record in captivity is 20 years and 7 months



·        The name raccoon comes from the Algonquian word “arakun,” which means “he scratches with his hands.”

·        Raccoons’ hands are almost as nimble as monkeys’ hands.

·        The scientific name “lotor” means “a washer.”



Raccoons have what appears to be a black mask across their eyes. Their stocky body is covered by grey or reddish brown fur. They have five toes on each paw and their forepaws are incredibly dextrous. Raccoons have a bushy tail that has between four to 10 black rings.



Raccoons build dens in hollow trees, abandoned burrows or rock crevices, but they prefer to be close to water. Portions of the United States, Mexico and Central America as well as the southern areas of Canada are home to raccoons. Raccoons have personal territories of several miles, often overlapping with other raccoons due to their non-territorial natures.


Feeding Habits

Raccoons are omnivores, eating fruit, nuts, eggs and corn as well as small mammals, birds and fish. The list of foods raccoons will eat is long—basically, they will eat anything they can get their hands on. 



Mating season is May for raccoons in most regions and late January to early February for raccoons in the northern part of their range. Gestation is fairly short—approximately two months. The female gives birth to a litter of one to seven offspring, but the average is three to four. Fiercely protective of her brood, the female will not allow the father near the newborns. The kits are born with their eyes closed, in a den in a hollow tree. Their eyes open at three weeks and they are weaned by two to three months. Around that time, the mother begins taking them on short trips, teaching them to forage for food and to climb trees. The youngsters remain with their mother in her den throughout the winter, and the following summer, the family members will go their separate ways. 



Raccoons are known to be incredibly intelligent and resourceful, able to adapt in almost any environment. They are also considered curious and mischievous. Although it is commonly thought that raccoons like to wash their food, what they are actually doing is tearing their food while feeling for inedible matter—having wet paws increases the raccoon’s sense of touch. Raccoons do not hibernate, but they sleep for several days on end during the winter and sometimes more than 20 raccoons will den together for warmth.



Raccoon populations have grown in the last 100 years mainly because the populations of their predators have diminished, so raccoons are not currently a conservation concern. 















Raccoon Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US