Common Raccoon

Procyon lotor

The raccoon, ''Procyon lotor'', also known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon, northern raccoon and colloquially as coon, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. It is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm and a body weight of 3.5 to 9 kg.
Sleepy raccoon Taken at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa Geotagged,North America,South Africa,Winter,common raccoon,mammals,nocturnal,raccoon


Head to hindquarters, raccoons measure between 40 and 70 cm, not including the bushy tail which can measure between 20 and 40 cm, but is usually not much longer than 25 cm. The shoulder height is between 23 and 30 cm . The skull of the adult male measures 94.3–125.8 mm long and 60.2–89.1 mm wide, while that of the female measures 89.4–115.9 mm long and 58.3–81.2 mm wide. The body weight of an adult raccoon varies considerably with habitat; it can range from 2 to 14 kilograms , but is usually between 3.5 and 9 kilograms . The smallest specimens are found in Southern Florida, while those near the northern limits of the raccoon's range tend to be the largest . Males are usually 15 to 20% heavier than females. At the beginning of winter, a raccoon can weigh twice as much as in spring because of fat storage. It is one of the most variably sized of all mammals. The largest recorded wild raccoon weighed 28.4 kg and measured 140 cm in total length, by far the largest size recorded for a procyonid.

The most characteristic physical feature of the raccoon is the area of black fur around the eyes, which contrasts sharply with the surrounding white face coloring. This is reminiscent of a "bandit's mask" and has thus enhanced the animal's reputation for mischief. The slightly rounded ears are also bordered by white fur. Raccoons are assumed to recognize the facial expression and posture of other members of their species more quickly because of the conspicuous facial coloration and the alternating light and dark rings on the tail. The rings resemble those of a ringtail lemur. The dark mask may also reduce glare and thus enhance night vision. On other parts of the body, the long and stiff guard hairs, which shed moisture, are usually colored in shades of gray and, to a lesser extent, brown. Raccoons with a very dark coat are more common in the German population because individuals with such coloring were among those initially released to the wild. The dense underfur, which accounts for almost 90% of the coat, insulates against cold weather and is composed of 2 to 3 cm long hairs.

The raccoon, whose method of locomotion is usually considered to be plantigrade, can stand on its hind legs to examine objects with its front paws. As raccoons have short legs compared to their compact torso, they are usually not able either to run quickly or jump great distances. Their top speed over short distances is 16 to 24 km/h . Raccoons can swim with an average speed of about 5 km/h and can stay in the water for several hours. For climbing down a tree headfirst—an unusual ability for a mammal of its size—a raccoon rotates its hind feet so they are pointing backwards. Raccoons have a dual cooling system to regulate their temperature; that is, they are able to both sweat and pant for heat dissipation.

Raccoon skulls have a short and wide facial region and a voluminous braincase. The facial length of the skull is less than the cranial, and their nasal bones are short and quite broad. The auditory bullae are inflated in form, and the sagittal crest is weakly developed. The dentition — 40 teeth with the dental formula:
— is adapted to their omnivorous diet: the carnassials are not as sharp and pointed as those of a full-time carnivore, but the molars are not as wide as those of a herbivore. The penis bone of males is about 10 cm long and strongly bent at the front end and is often used by biologists to classify reproductive status of specimens. Seven of the thirteen identified vocal calls are used in communication between the mother and her kits, one of these being the birdlike twittering of newborns.
Raton Laveur in Montreal, Quebec The French name for Raccoon is "raton laveur" (~washing rat) because they sometimes soak their food in water to soften it up. Ran into this guy on a path in the foresty park at the center of Montreal. He was nice enough to post and chew something while I tried a few angles.  Canada,Geotagged,Procyon lotor,Raccoon,Spring,mammal,sunset


The word "raccoon" was adopted into English from the native Powhatan term, as used in the Virginia Colony. It was recorded on Captain John Smith's list of Powhatan words as ''aroughcun'', and on that of William Strachey as ''arathkone''. It has also been identified as a Proto-Algonquian root ''*ahrah-koon-em'', meaning "[the] one who rubs, scrubs and scratches with its hands".

The colloquial abbreviation ''coon'' is used in words like ''coonskin'' for fur clothing and in phrases like ''old coon'' as a self-designation of trappers. However, the clipped form is also in use as an ethnic slur. The raccoon's scientific name, ''Procyon lotor'', is neo-Latin, meaning "before-dog washer", with ''lotor'' Latin for "washer" and ''Procyon'' Latinized Greek from προ-, "before" and κύων, "dog".Four subspecies of raccoon endemic to small Central American and Caribbean islands were often regarded as distinct species after their discovery. These are the Bahaman raccoon and Guadeloupe raccoon, which are very similar to each other; the Tres Marias raccoon, which is larger than average and has an angular skull; and the extinct Barbados raccoon. Studies of their morphological and genetic traits in 1999, 2003 and 2005 led all these island raccoons to be listed as subspecies of the common raccoon in the third edition of ''Mammal Species of the World'' . A fifth island raccoon population, the Cozumel raccoon, which weighs only 3 to 4 kg and has notably small teeth, is still regarded as a separate species.

The four smallest raccoon subspecies, with an average weight of 2 to 3 kilograms , are found along the southern coast of Florida and on the adjacent islands; an example is the Ten Thousand Island raccoon . Most of the other 15 subspecies differ only slightly from each other in coat color, size and other physical characteristics. The two most widespread subspecies are the eastern raccoon and the upper Mississippi Valley raccoon . Both share a comparatively dark coat with long hairs, but the upper Mississippi Valley raccoon is larger than the eastern raccoon. The eastern raccoon occurs in all US states and Canadian provinces to the north of South Carolina and Tennessee. The adjacent range of the upper Mississippi Valley raccoon covers all US states and Canadian provinces to the north of Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
Baby Raccoon Baby in the trees! My son and I were going for a walk in our town of 16 and we heard a strange sound. We whent to look for the sound and up in the trees we found a family of raccoons in the tree. 6 of them 2 of us. Wow what a sight.
 Baby raccoon,North America,North Dakota,Procyon lotor,Raccoon,wildlife


Raccoons are common throughout North America from Canada to Panama, where the subspecies ''P. l. pumilus'' coexists with the crab-eating Raccoon . The population on Hispaniola was exterminated as early as 1513 by Spanish colonists who hunted them for their meat. Raccoons were also exterminated in Cuba and Jamaica, where the last sightings were reported in 1687. The Bahaman raccoon was classified as endangered by the IUCN in 1996.

There is evidence that in pre-Columbian times raccoons were numerous only along rivers and in the woodlands of the Southeastern United States. As raccoons were not mentioned in earlier reports of pioneers exploring the central and north-central parts of the United States, their initial spread may have begun a few decades before the 20th century. Since the 1950s, raccoons have expanded their range from Vancouver Island—formerly the northernmost limit of their range—far into the northern portions of the four south-central Canadian provinces. New habitats which have recently been occupied by raccoons include mountain ranges, such as the Western Rocky Mountains, prairies and coastal marshes. After a population explosion starting in the 1940s, the estimated number of raccoons in North America in the late 1980s was 15 to 20 times higher than in the 1930s, when raccoons were comparatively rare. Urbanization, the expansion of agriculture, deliberate introductions, and the extermination of natural predators of the raccoon have probably caused this increase in abundance and distribution.As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, the raccoon is now distributed in several European and Asian countries. Sightings have occurred in all the countries bordering Germany, which hosts the largest population outside of North America. Another stable population exists in northern France, where several pet raccoons were released by members of the U.S. Air Force near the Laon-Couvron Air Base in 1966. About 1,240 animals were released in nine regions of the former Soviet Union between 1936 and 1958 for the purpose of establishing a population to be hunted for their fur. Two of these introductions were successful: one in the south of Belarus between 1954 and 1958, and another in Azerbaijan between 1941 and 1957. With a seasonal harvest of between 1,000 and 1,500 animals, in 1974 the estimated size of the population distributed in the Caucasus region was around 20,000 animals and the density was four animals per square kilometer .On April 12, 1934, two pairs of pet raccoons were released into the German countryside at the Edersee reservoir in the north of Hesse by forest superintendent Wilhelm Freiherr Sittich von Berlepsch, upon request of their owner, the poultry farmer Rolf Haag. He released them two weeks before receiving permission from the Prussian hunting office to "enrich the fauna", as Haag's request stated. Several prior attempts to introduce raccoons in Germany were not successful. A second population was established in East Germany in 1945 when 25 raccoons escaped from a fur farm at Wolfshagen east of Berlin after an air strike. The two populations are parasitologically distinguishable: 70% of the raccoons of the Hessian population are infected with the roundworm ''Baylisascaris procyonis'', but none of the Brandenburgian population has the parasite. The estimated number of raccoons was 285 animals in the Hessian region in 1956, over 20,000 animals in the Hessian region in 1970 and between 200,000 and 400,000 animals in the whole of Germany in 2008.

The raccoon was a protected species in Germany, but has been declared a game animal in 14 states since 1954. Hunters and environmentalists argue the raccoon spreads uncontrollably, threatens protected bird species and supersedes domestic carnivorans. This view is opposed by the zoologist Frank-Uwe Michler, who finds no evidence a high population density of raccoons has negative effects on the biodiversity of an area. Hohmann holds extensive hunting cannot be justified by the absence of natural predators, because predation is not a significant cause of death in the North American raccoon population.Experiments in acclimatising raccoons into the USSR began in 1936, and were repeated a further 25 times until 1962. Overall, 1,222 individuals were released, 64 of which came from zoos and fur farms . The remainder originated from a population previously established in Transcaucasia. The range of Soviet raccoons was never single or continuous, as they were often introduced to different locations far from each other. All introductions into the Russian Far East failed ; melanistic raccoons were released on Petrov Island near Vladivostok and some areas of southern Primorsky Krai, but died. In Middle Asia, raccoons were released in Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad Province, though they were later recorded as "practically absent" there in January 1963. A large and stable raccoon population was established in Azerbaijan after an introduction to the area in 1937. Raccoons apparently survived an introduction near Terek, along the Sulak River into the Dagestani lowlands. Attempts to settle racoons on the Kuban River's left tributary and Kabardino-Balkaria were unsuccessful. A successful acclimatization occurred in Belarus, where three introductions took place. By January 1, 1963, 700 individuals were recorded in the country.In Japan, up to 1,500 raccoons were imported as pets each year after the success of the anime series ''Rascal the Raccoon'' . In 2004, the descendants of discarded or escaped animals lived in 42 of 47 prefectures. In Japan, it competes as a wild animal alongside the indigenous ''raccoon dog'' , a wild canid with a similar lifestyle and visual characteristics.
Racoon portrait  Procyon lotor,Raccoon


The raccoon is usually nocturnal and is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates. It has a grayish coat, of which almost 90% is dense underfur, which insulates against cold weather. Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythology of several Native American tribes. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later.

Studies in the 1990s by the ethologists Stanley D. Gehrt and Ulf Hohmann indicated that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behaviors and are not typically solitary, as was previously thought. Related females often live in a so-called "fission-fusion society", that is, they share a common area and occasionally meet at feeding or resting grounds. Unrelated males often form loose ''male social groups'' to maintain their position against foreign males during the mating season—or against other potential invaders. Such a group does not usually consist of more than four individuals. Since some males show aggressive behavior towards unrelated kits, mothers will isolate themselves from other raccoons until their kits are big enough to defend themselves. With respect to these three different modes of life prevalent among raccoons, Hohmann called their social structure a "three class society". Samuel I. Zeveloff, professor of zoology at Weber State University and author of the book ''Raccoons: A Natural History'', is more cautious in his interpretation and concludes at least the females are solitary most of the time and, according to Erik K. Fritzell's study in North Dakota in 1978, males in areas with low population densities are as well.

The shape and size of a raccoon's home range varies depending on age, gender, and habitat, with adults claiming areas more than twice as large as juveniles. While the size of home ranges in the inhospitable habitat of North Dakota's prairies lay between 7 and 50 km2 for males and between 2 and 16 km2 for females, the average size in a marsh at Lake Erie was 0.49 km2 . Irrespective of whether the home ranges of adjacent groups overlap, they are most likely not actively defended outside the mating season if food supplies are sufficient. Odor marks on prominent spots are assumed to establish home ranges and identify individuals. Urine and feces left at shared latrines may provide additional information about feeding grounds, since raccoons were observed to meet there later for collective eating, sleeping and playing.

Concerning the general behavior patterns of raccoons, Gehrt points out "typically you'll find 10 to 15 percent that will do the opposite" of what is expected.
Raccoon after a victorious hunt This raccoon and its two siblings were hunting grasshoppers along the side of the trail. I saw this one and one other catch one each.
Unfortunately, I scared one of the two who had managed to catch a grasshopper away and he left his catch behind (hopefully he can forgive me, though, because I was a bit dehydrated and rushing back to the water fountain... stupid me didn't factor in the return trip when rationing my water...). Animal,Carnivora,Fall,Florida,Geotagged,Lake Apopka,Lake Apopka Loop Trail,Mammal,Nature,Procyon,Procyon lotor,Procyonidae,Raccoon,United States,United States of America,Vertebrate


The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests of North America, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where many homeowners consider them to be pests. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across the European mainland, the Caucasus region and Japan.

Although they have thrived in sparsely wooded areas in the last decades, raccoons depend on vertical structures to climb when they feel threatened. Therefore, they avoid open terrain and areas with high concentrations of beech trees, as beech bark is too smooth to climb. Tree hollows in old oaks or other trees and rock crevices are preferred by raccoons as sleeping, winter and litter dens. If such dens are unavailable or accessing them is inconvenient, raccoons use burrows dug by other mammals, dense undergrowth, roadside culverts in urban areas, or tree crotches. In a study in the Solling range of hills in Germany, more than 60% of all sleeping places were used only once, but those used at least ten times accounted for about 70% of all uses. Since amphibians, crustaceans, and other animals found around the shore of lakes and rivers are an important part of the raccoon's diet, lowland deciduous or mixed forests abundant with water and marshes sustain the highest population densities. While population densities range from 0.5 to 3.2 animals per square kilometre in prairies and do not usually exceed 6 animals per square kilometer in upland hardwood forests, more than 20 raccoons per square kilometer can live in lowland forests and marshes.
Raccoons foraging in a tree This is one of two raccoons that were foraging for small fruit in this tree.  (Actually, the second raccoon is in the background.) Geotagged,Procyon lotor,Raccoon,United States


Raccoons usually mate in a period triggered by increasing daylight between late January and mid-March. However, there are large regional differences which are not completely explicable by solar conditions. For example, while raccoons in southern states typically mate later than average, the mating season in Manitoba also peaks later than usual in March and extends until June. During the mating season, males roam their home ranges in search of females in an attempt to court them during the three to four day period when conception is possible. These encounters will often occur at central meeting places. Copulation, including foreplay, can last over an hour and is repeated over several nights. The weaker members of a ''male social group'' also are assumed to get the opportunity to mate, since the stronger ones cannot mate with all available females. In a study in southern Texas during the mating seasons from 1990 to 1992, about one third of all females mated with more than one male. If a female does not become pregnant or if she loses her kits early, she will sometimes become fertile again 80 to 140 days later.

After usually 63 to 65 days of gestation , a litter of typically two to five young is born. The average litter size varies widely with habitat, ranging from 2.5 in Alabama to 4.8 in North Dakota. Larger litters are more common in areas with a high mortality rate, due, for example, to hunting or severe winters. While male yearlings usually reach their sexual maturity only after the main mating season, female yearlings can compensate for high mortality rates and may be responsible for about 50% of all young born in a year. Males have no part in raising young. The kits are blind and deaf at birth, but their mask is already visible against their light fur. The birth weight of the about 10 cm -long kits is between 60 and 75 g . Their ear canals open after around 18 to 23 days, a few days before their eyes open for the first time. Once the kits weigh about 1 kg , they begin to explore outside the den, consuming solid food for the first time after six to nine weeks. After this point, their mother suckles them with decreasing frequency; they are usually weaned by 16 weeks. In the fall, after their mother has shown them dens and feeding grounds, the juvenile group splits up. While many females will stay close to the home range of their mother, males can sometimes move more than 20 km away. This is considered an instinctive behavior, preventing inbreeding. However, mother and offspring may share a den during the first winter in cold areas.
The Biggest Raccoon It was raccoon day at the lake.  This one is the biggest one I've ever seen.  It also appeared quite dark in color.  It seems this habitat is good for darker-than-average brown individuals, because the bobcats I've seen here are unusually dark as well. Geotagged,Procyon lotor,Raccoon,United States,Winter


Though usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources. Its diet consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant material and 27% vertebrates. Since its diet consists of such a variety of different foods, Zeveloff argues the raccoon "may well be one of the world's most omnivorous animals". While its diet in spring and early summer consists mostly of insects, worms, and other animals already available early in the year, it prefers fruits and nuts, such as acorns and walnuts, which emerge in late summer and autumn, and represent a rich calorie source for building up fat needed for winter. They eat active or large prey, such as birds and mammals, only occasionally, since they prefer prey that is easier to catch, specifically fish and amphibians. Bird nests are frequently preyed on, and small birds are often helpless to prevent the attacking raccoon. When food is plentiful, raccoons can develop strong individual preferences for specific foods. In the northern parts of their range, raccoons go into a winter rest, reducing their activity drastically as long as a permanent snow cover makes searching for food impossible.The fur of raccoons is used for clothing, especially for coats and coonskin caps. At present, it is the material used for the inaccurately named "sealskin" cap worn by the Royal Fusiliers of Great Britain. Historically, Native American tribes not only used the fur for winter clothing, but also used the tails for ornament. Since the late 18th century, various types of scent hounds which are able to tree animals have been bred in the United States. In the 19th century, when coonskins occasionally even served as means of payment, several thousand raccoons were killed each year in the United States. This number rose quickly when automobile coats became popular after the turn of the 20th century. In the 1920s, wearing a raccoon coat was regarded as status symbol among college students. Attempts to breed raccoons in fur farms in the 1920s and 1930s in North America and Europe turned out not to be profitable, and farming was abandoned after prices for long-haired pelts dropped in the 1940s. Although raccoons had become rare in the 1930s, at least 388,000 were killed during the hunting season of 1934/35.

After persistent population increases began in the 1940s, the seasonal hunt reached about one million animals in 1946/47 and two million in 1962/63. The 1948 senatorial campaign of Estes Kefauver, who wore such a cap for promotional purposes, and the broadcast of three television episodes about the frontiersman Davy Crockett and the film ''Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier'' in 1954 and 1955 led to a high demand for coonskin caps in the United States . Ironically, it is unlikely either Crockett or the actor who played him, Fess Parker, actually wore a cap made from raccoon fur. The seasonal hunt reached an all-time high with 5.2 million animals in 1976/77 and ranged between 3.2 and 4.7 million for most of the 1980s. In 1982, the average pelt price was $20. In the first half of the 1990s, the seasonal hunt dropped to 0.9 to 1.9 million due to decreasing pelt prices. As of 1987, the raccoon was identified as the most important wild furbearer in North America in terms of revenue.

In many parts of the United States, raccoon hunting is still done at night with dogs, usually breeds of coonhounds. The dogs track the raccoon until it seeks refuge, usually in a tree, where it is either harvested or left for future hunts. Hunters can tell the progress of tracking by the type of bark emitted by the dogs; a unique bark indicates the raccoon has been "treed".While primarily hunted for their fur, raccoons were also a source of food for Native Americans and Americans and barbecued raccoon was a traditional food on American farms. It was often a festive meal. Raccoon was eaten by American slaves at Christmas, but it was not necessarily a dish of the poor or rural; in San Francisco's ''The Golden Era'' of December 21, 1856, raccoon is among the specialties advertised for the holiday, and US President Calvin Coolidge's pet raccoon Rebecca was originally sent to be served at the White House Thanksgiving Dinner. The first edition of ''The Joy of Cooking'', released in 1931, contained a recipe for preparing raccoon.

Because raccoons are generally thought of as endearing, cute, and/or varmints, the idea of eating them is repulsive to mainstream consumers. However, many thousands of raccoons are still eaten each year in the United States. Although the Delafield Coon Feed has been an annual event since 1928, its culinary use is mainly identified with certain regions of the American South like Arkansas where the Gillett Coon Supper is an important political event.


Based on fossil evidence from France and Germany, the first known members of the family ''Procyonidae'' lived in Europe in the late Oligocene about 25 million years ago. Similar tooth and skull structures suggest procyonids and weasels share a common ancestor, but molecular analysis indicates a closer relationship between raccoons and bears. After the then-existing species crossed the Bering Strait at least six million years later, the center of its distribution was probably in Central America. Coatis and raccoons have been considered to possibly share common descent from a species in the genus ''Paranasua'' present between 5.2 and 6.0 million years ago. This assumption, based on morphological comparisons, conflicts with a 2006 genetic analysis which indicates raccoons are more closely related to ringtails. Unlike other procyonids, such as the crab-eating raccoon , the ancestors of the common raccoon left tropical and subtropical areas and migrated farther north about 4 million years ago, in a migration that has been confirmed by the discovery in the Great Plains of fossils dating back to the middle of the Pliocene.
Common Raccoon, Zie-Zoo, Netherlands  Common Raccoon,Europe,Netherlands,Procyon lotor,Volkel,World,Zie-Zoo,Zoo


As with most exotic pets, owning a raccoon often takes a significant amount of time and patience. Raccoons may act unpredictably and aggressively and it can be quite difficult to teach them to obey and understand commands. In places where keeping raccoons as pets is not forbidden, such as in Wisconsin and other U.S. states, an exotic pet permit may be required.

Sexually mature raccoons often show aggressive natural behaviors such as biting during the mating season. Neutering them at around five or six months of age decreases the chances of aggressive behavior developing. Raccoons can become obese and suffer from other disorders due to poor diet and lack of exercise. When fed with cat food over a long time period, raccoons can develop gout. With respect to the research results regarding their social behavior, it is now required by law in Austria and Germany to keep at least two individuals to prevent loneliness. Raccoons are usually kept in a pen , also a legal requirement in Austria and Germany, rather than in the apartment where their natural curiosity may result in damage to property.

When orphaned, it is possible for kits to be rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild. However, it is uncertain whether they readapt well to life in the wild. Feeding unweaned kits with cow's milk rather than a kitten replacement milk or a similar product can be dangerous to their health.


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Status: Unknown
SpeciesP. lotor