101 Facts About Raccoons

  • Raccoons are native of North America.
  • Raccoons were brought to Germany and bred for their fur. Some escaped, and a population of raccoons still exist in the wild.
  • Raccoons that live in colder climates are larger and heavier.
  • There are of 26 different types of raccoons living across the North American continent, ranging from Canada to Panama.
  • The most recognizable species in North America is Procyon lotor.
  • Raccoons have short legs, a pointed muzzle, and small erect ears.
  • The North American raccoon is large in size 75 to 90 cm (30 to 36 inches) long, including the 25-cm (10-inch) tail. Weight is generally about 10 kg (22 pounds) or less, with males growing to more than 20 kg.
  • Want to know if raccoons are dangerous? Find out here.
  • Northern region raccoons are larger than their southern counterparts.
  • North American raccoon’s fur is bushy, and its color is iron-gray to black with brown overtones.
  • Southern raccoons are normally silver, with northern raccoons tending toward blond or brown.
  • North American raccoon’s tails have alternating light and dark rings.
  • Northern raccoons are an intelligent and nosy animal.
  • For 101 facts on moose, click here.
  • The raccoon’s hairless front feet resemble human hands, with their back feet being thicker and longer. 
  • Raccoons are mid-sized animals that are about 2-3 feet long
  • North American raccoon’s bodies are stocky, round and covered in salt-and-pepper colored fur. 
  • Raccoons are known best for the “black mask” of fur around their eyes, also known as a “bandit mask,” and black rings around their furry tails.
  • Raccoons choose to live in forested areas near a water source. Although commonly found near water and trees, raccoons can also be found on farmsteads and around livestock watering areas.
  • For 101 facts on narwhals, click here.
  • Raccoons are omnivores, meaning they will eat both plants and animals.
  • Raccoons eat fruits, berries, nuts, fish, frogs, mussels, crayfish, insects, turtles, mice, rabbits, muskrats, and bird eggs.
  • Raccoons are highly intelligent and interesting creatures, but they can also be an irritation to any homeowner.
  • Raccoons are nocturnal mammals and can destroy gardens, making a mess by tipping over garbage cans. In search of food, they can cause structural damage.
  • Want to know what raccoons eat? Find out here in an article I have written.
  • Raccoons make their dens in the hollow parts of trees as well as abandoned burrows, traveling up to 18 miles to look for food.
  • For 101 facts on armadillos, click here.
  • Raccoons are omnivores with an opportunistic diet; eating nearly anything, they can get their paws on.
  • Raccoons are nocturnal, being most active at nighttime.
  • The raccoon is a close relative of the bear family, though its scientific name means “washer dog” (Procyon lotor).
  • Raccoons are most active in spring, summer, and fall, and will sleep in their dens for most of the winter
  • Raccoons communicate with each other using over 200 different sounds and 12-15 different calls.
  • Raccoons have amazing dexterity that gives them the ability to open doors and latches.
  • Raccoons are great climbers which allows them to access food and shelter.
  • Raccoons carry some diseases that can affect humans and pets, including leptospirosis, salmonella, roundworm, and rabies.
  • Bacterial diseases can be transmitted to humans and pets through a bite or the intake of raccoon feces.
  • Although raccoons are famous for carrying rabies, in the United States there has only been one recorded human death from rabies caught from a raccoon.
  • For 101 facts on bighorn sheep, click here.
  • Some signs that a raccoon may have rabies include aggressiveness, unusual vocalizations, and drool or foam from the mouth.
  • It is said that the purpose of a raccoon’s black mask is to reduce glare, helping it to see better in the dark.
  • A group of raccoons is called a nursery.
  • Want to know how to stop raccoons digging up your lawn.  Find out in this article I have written.
  • Although raccoons only live 2-3 years in the wild, a raccoon can live up to 20 years in captivity.
  • Raccoons use their dexterous paws to pluck food from small places.
  • Raccoons have excellent vision and keen hearing. They have a highly developed sense of touch.
  • North American raccoons have been known to pry the lids off sealed garbage cans, raid campsites, and coolers, and even turn on the tap for a drink of water.
  • Raccoons are commonly known for their unusual habit of “washing” their food or hands in water.
  • A raccoon will wash its food in water before eating it. When there is no water close by, a raccoon will still rub its food to remove dirt.
  • Some hungry raccoons will come into human-populated areas then retreat into the woods during the day to sleep. Others make buildings—both abandoned and occupied—their home.
  • Raccoons have tendencies to chew through cages, pickpocket researchers, and hide out in air vents.
  • A raccoon’s front paws are amazingly dexterous and contain roughly four times more sensory receptors than their back paws. This is similar to a difference between our hands and feet. This allows them to differentiate between objects.
  • Raccoons can amplify their sense of touch through dousing.
  • For 101 facts on grizzly bears, click here.
  • Raccoons are flexible and use their dexterous front paws and long fingers to find and feast on a wide variety of food.
  • In the natural world, raccoons catch a lot of their meals in the water.
  • The largest raccoon caught measured 55 in in length and weighed 28.4 kg (62.6 lb)
  • Raccoons are very quick, using their paws to grab crayfish, frogs, and other aquatic creatures. On land, they eat mice and insects from their hiding places and raid nests for tasty eggs.
  • Raccoons mating season occurs in spring between late January and mid-march. 
  • Related female raccoons often share a common area, meeting at eating grounds or in sleeping areas.
  • Male raccoons live together in small groups of 4 individuals to maintain their positions against possible predators or other raccoons. 
  • Raccoons give birth from January through June.
  • Females have 1 to 7 cubs in early summer.
  • Kits open their eyes around three weeks of age, start eating solid food around seven weeks old, and by two months old are traveling alongside their mother.
  • Young raccoons often spend the first two months or so of their lives high up in a tree hole. The mother will later move her children to the ground when the young begin to explore on their own. 
  • The male raccoon is called a boar.
  • Female raccoons are called a sow. 
  • Young raccoons are called kits.
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  • As a group, a mother and her baby raccoons are called a nursery.
  • Young Raccoons are independent after 12-14 months of age. 
  • Scientists have identified 13 vocal calls of which seven are used in communication between a mother and kits. One of these is a bird-like twittering.
  • Some males show aggression towards unrelated kits. 
  • Mothers will separate themselves from other raccoons until their kits are big enough to defend themselves. 
  • Northern raccoons overeat in spring and summer to store up body fat
  • Most Northern raccoons will double their springtime body weight to provide themselves with enough energy to sleep through the winter.
  • Northern raccoons spend much of the winter asleep in a den.
  • Raccoons are talented swimmers.
  • The North American raccoon played an important role in the fur industry of North America during the 19th century. In the early decades of the 20th century, raccoon coats were very popular.
  • Raccoons can turn their hind feet completely around. When climbing, they have developed the ability to turn their hind feet around 180 degrees so that they can grip better and use their claws for braking.

If you want to know whether raccoons are dangerous, I have written an article which you can find here.

  • Native American cultures wore raccoon bones as charms for luck or richness.
  • Raccoons are social animals that live near each other and work in groups for most of the year. 
  • A raccoon has few predators though the animal has been known to be attacked by cougars, bobcats, and coyotes
  • North American raccoons can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.
  • The raccoon is a good swimmer and can stay in water for several hours.
  • The raccoon makes a variety of vocalizations, including hisses, whistles, screams, growls, and snarls.
  • Though raccoons look like the outlaws of the outdoors, they are very clean creatures.
  • They will dig latrines in areas they frequent regularly. 
  • Although they are strong swimmers, they are unwilling. This is because swimming makes them heavier, as their fur is not waterproof.
  • For 101 facts on polar bears, click here.
  • Raccoons don’t like to travel further than necessary, and will only go to find food.
  • A raccoons tail has 5 to 7 complete dark rings, irregular with broader brown or gray rings. The tip of the tail is always dark. 
  • During the winter months, raccoons do not hibernate. However, they minimize their activity to save energy. During this time, raccoons can lose up to 50% of their body weight.
  • During fall, Northern raccoons stock up on fatty nuts and seeds for the coming winter.
    In late fall and early winter, their fur will thicken into a heavy winter coat, and they will eat as much as they can find to tide them over during the winter weather.
  • For 101 facts on wolverines, click here.
  • The raccoon’s main predators are coyotes, wolves, pumas, and bobcats. Large owls and eagles will prey on young raccoons.
  • Christopher Columbus is the first person we know to have written about them. 
  • Raccoons are smarter than cats but not as clever as monkeys.
  • A baby raccoon will chirp like a bird or whine, and chatter when it is hungry, cold or misses contact with a warm body.
  • Due to the high acidic content, raccoons will avoid eating tomatoes.
  • Raccoons are about the size of a medium dog.
  • Raccoons love raiding vegetable gardens. They knock over cornstalks to get the corn and eat small melons.
  • While some people keep them as pets, an adult raccoon may not be the best choice.
  • For 101 facts on jaguars, click here.
  • Tree hollows of old oaks or other trees and rock cracks are ideal for raccoons sleeping in winter.
  • Raccoons are thought to be color blind. However, their eyes are well adapted at sensing green light.
  • It is said that the different patterns of each animal’s mask help raccoons recognize each other.
  • Raccoons have sensitive hearing and can distinguish high tones up to 50 – 85 kHz as well as very quiet noises like those produced by earthworms underground.
  • Raccoons have extremely sensitive front paws. The front paws have five fingers surrounded by a thin layer of callus for protection.
  • Standing in cold water below 10 degrees, centigrade does not affect a raccoon’s sensitive paws.
  • Raccoons have plantigrade feet (heel and sole touch the floor) and can sit on their back legs to examine objects with their front paws.
  • Raccoons help maintain the balance of prey populations and thus provide food for other animals.
  • There are raccoons in Japan and Russia.
  • The Florida raccoon has a reddish-brown patch on its neck. 

If you want to know how to animal proof your home so that raccoons cannot get in, I have written a helpful guide. You can find it here.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Nature.

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