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Raccoon

Raccoon

Procyon lotor

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Mammal

Description

A raccoon's face has several markings that help it stand out. The most noticeable marking is the black "mask"—large black markings around each eye. They extend from the edge of the nose to the lower part of the cheek. In addition, raccoons have whitish patches on top of the eyes and around the nose. Raccoons have grayish-brown fur over most of their body, and their tails have four to six black rings.

Range

Raccoons live throughout the continental United States in woods, wetlands, suburbs, parks, cities, and anywhere there is cover, food, and water. Predators of raccoons include the coyote, fisher, bobcat, red fox, and great horned owl.

Diet

Raccoons are omnivores, meaning they will eat both meat and vegetables. They like grasshoppers, nuts, berries, mice, squirrels, and bird eggs. They are nocturnal and search for food at night. Raccoons are opportunistic feeders and are well known by people for their skillful attempts at stealing food from garbage cans in parks and neighborhoods. Raccoons are able to get food that other animals cannot because they have nimble, almost handlike paws that can grasp at tree branches, nuts, fruits, and even the lids of garbage cans.

Life History

Raccoons are solitary, except during the breeding season, which occurs from January to June. Females usually have one litter a year, with three to seven offspring per litter. The gestation period is roughly two months. Young stay with their mother for their first winter, then venture off on their own in spring. A raccoon can live for 16 years in the wild, but often only live for an average of five years.

Fun Fact

At the National Wildlife Federation, we love raccoons, especially our mascot Ranger Rick! But it can be dangerous to get close to raccoons, because unlike Ranger Rick, wild raccoons may become aggressive if provoked.

Sources

Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

Adirondack Ecological Center, College of Environmental Science and Forest, State University of New York

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