Procyon lotor
Family Procyonidae

* Hair colored in a pepper-and-salt mixture. Black mask over eyes.
* Tail rings yellowish white alternating with black. Tail 8-12".
* Head and body length: 18-28".

Natural History:
* Habitat: Streams, lake edges, wooded areas on rocky cliffs. Builds dens in hollow trees, logs, and buildings.
* Range: Most of the United States and southern Canada, except the Rocky Mountains.
* Behavior: Raccoons are nocturnal and are active year-round. They are omnivorous, eating fruits, nuts grains, insects, crayfish, and bird eggs, among other things; they are often found rooting through garbage in suburbs. Sometimes, they dunk food in water prior to eating it...but no one knows why! Raccoons have variable voices; females twitter to reassure their young, but both sexes growl and snarl when angry or threatened. They mate in February or March in the north, and earlier in the south.
* Lifespan: 6 years.
* Native.

* Raccoon meat is edible, and its distinctive fur patterns have been seen on such celebrities as Daniel Boone, with his coonskin cap.

* Raccoons are expert climbers, and they plague farmers and gardeners by eating corn and damaging crops. They are curious and clever and have excellent memories, plus highly developed senses of hearing, sight, and touch.

* Raccoons are occasionally kept as pets, but tame, cute, raccoon pups become wild and unpredictable with age. They have formidable canine teeth that can inflict severe wounds.

* New England raccoon abundances declined precipitously in the early 1980's when a rabies epidemic raced through the population. When population density is low, sick animals often die before they get the chance to spread the disease. Currently, diseased animals occur infrequently, and low-density populations "escape" the disease, since raccoons who pass it on are rare.

Approved by NR


Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005