Raccoon

Procyon lotor

Corel Photo

Raccoons are large mammals, most often seen dead on roadsides or at night going through garbage cans. They are shy creatures, active at night.

Raccoons are often thought to be close relatives of weasels, but they are actually more closely related to pandas.

Their fur is grayish brown with black markings. Raccoons are easily identified by the black mask on the face and a bushy tail with four to six black rings.

Raccoons den in hollow trees, fissures in rocks, caves, or burrows (usually old fox, woodchuck or skunk burrow). They almost always live near water. They will also move into a muskrat house.

Raccoons are omnivorous and eat almost anything, including: nuts, berries, acorns, leaves, grasshoppers, crickets, grubs, worms, dragonfly larvae, clams, wasps, salamanders, frogs, crayfish, snakes, turtles and their eggs, bird eggs and nestlings, fish, voles, and squirrels. They often eat garbage scraps and at times have been seen eating dead animals on the sides of roads.

Copyright, Robert Potts, California Academy of Sciences

Copyright,Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

Raccoons are very agile. They climb trees well, moving forward or backward on their way up or down the tree. They are one of few animals which can descend a tree headfirst. They can also drop, unharmed, 35 to 40 feet. They are fast runners (15 mph) and excellent swimmers. If cornered, raccoons are ferocious fighters and can kill a dog.

Raccoons are also know for their excellent night vision and keen sense of hearing.

Young raccoons are preyed upon by foxes, bobcats, owls, and eagles, but they most commonly die from automobiles.

Dr. Lloyd Glen Ingles, California Academy of Sciences

Raccoons have nimble fingers and are good at picking things apart with their paws, which create a track like a handprint.

Raccoons can live about 10 years.

Raccoons are known for making a variety of sounds, including purrs, whimpers, snarls, growls, hisses, screams, and whinnies. To hear some of their sounds, click below.

Copyright, Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

Copyright, Robert Potts, California Academy of Sciences

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Raccoon Chirp
Sound
Damon Swanson
Raccoon Coo
Sound
Damon Swanson
Raccoon Happy Noise
Sound
Damon Swanson
Raccoon Distress Call
Sound
Damon Swanson
Raccoon Purr
Sound
Damon Swanson
Raccoon Complaint
Sound
The World Wide Raccoon Web
Raccoon Walking in Marsh
Video
Phil Heine
Raccoon Walking / Eating
Video
Phil Heine
Raccoon Stealing Eggs from Northern Bobwhite Nest
Video
Tall Timber Research Station

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Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Crayfish

Red Fox

American Sycamore

Red Fox SP

Bullfrog

Great Horned Owl

Sweetgum

Woodchuck SP

Common Snapping Turtle

Bald Eagle

Yellow Poplar

Striped Skunk SP

Eastern Yellow Jacket

Humans

Red Maple

Muskrat SP

White Oak

Barred Owl

White Oak

Pileated Woodpecker SP

Poison Ivy

Eastern White Pine

American Dog Tick Pa

Pileated Woodpecker

Black Oak

Black Cherry D

Meadow Vole

Virginia Pine

Spotted Jewelweed D

Black Rat Snake

Black Willow

Eastern Redcedar D

Mallard

Mockernut Hickory

Poison Ivy D

Black Oak

Greenbrier

American Holly D

Muskrat

Silver Maple

Wild Grape D

Eastern Cottontail

Smooth Sumac

Rabies Virus Pa

Field Cricket

Pickerelweed

Black Oak D

Eastern Redcedar

Common Cattail

Greenbrier D

Red-winged Blackbird

Pokeweed

Pear-shaped Puffball D

Wood Frog

Loblolly Pine

Devil's Beggar-tick D

Northern Bobwhite

Common Reed

American Beech D

Virginia Creeper

Willow Oak

Freshwater Leech Pa

American Bald Eagle

Black Locust

Dung Beetle FP

Relationship to Humans:

Raccoons benefit people by controlling animal and plant populations. A raccoon may eat an entire wasp nest, including larvae, or eat all of the berries from a Poison Ivy plant, keeping it from spreading. Of course, sometimes they poop out the seeds in a new place, and Poison Ivy grows there.

Raccoons can also be pests. They will turn over garbage cans, and they can spread diseases, such as rabies.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Mammal
ORDER
Carnivore
FAMILY
Procyonids
GENUS
Procyon
SPECIES
Procyon lotor

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