Looking for raccoon facts? We have your covered! In this article on interesting facts about Raccoon a few amazing things about this amazing creature.
We will learn about the different species of raccoons, their physical characteristics, their eating and reproduction habits, and more.
So, what are you waiting for? Dig in!
Before we start, here is a quick table for scientific classification of raccoons.
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01. The word ‘raccoon’ was derived from Powhatan (now extinct) language’s aroughcun or arathikone.
02. These two words are in turn derived from the root word ‘ahrah-koon-em’ from Proto-Algonquian language.
03. The meaning of ‘ahrah-koon-em’ is the one who rubs, scratches, and scrubs with his hands.’
04. Cultures like Aztecs called them mapachiti meaning ‘one who takes everything in its hands’, and languages like Germans, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Japanese etc. also have their own word for raccoon.
05. Other common names used for raccoons are Northern raccoon, North American raccoon, common raccoon, etc.
06. The team which included Christopher Columbus were the first Europeans to have left a written record of this species.
07. Carl Linnaeus placed the raccoon in Ursus genus (which includes bears).
08. It was Gottlieb Conrad Christian Storr who placed the raccoon in its own genus, Procyon. The meaning of the word Procyon is ‘doglike’ or ‘before the dog’.
09. They lived in Europe in the late Oligocene epoch which was about 25 million years ago.
10. Raccoons and bears are more closely related to each other than raccoons and weasels.
11. The ancestors of present-day raccoons crossed the Bering Strait around 6 million years ago during the early Miocene epoch.
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12. From Miocene epoch, ancestors started diverging and creating different genus. Crab-eating raccoons left their earlier habitat of tropics and sub-tropics and moved north around 2.5 million years ago.
13. There are three species of raccoon. They are Procyon lotor (the common raccoon), Procyon pygamaeus (the pygmy raccoon or Cozumel racooon) and Procyon cancrivorous (the crab-eating raccoon).
14. According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), the common raccoon has 22 sub-species and the crab-eating raccoon has four sub-species.
15. Without including the tail, the raccoons measure between 16 and 28 inches. The tail which is bushy measures anywhere between 8 and 16 inches. The tail is not usually longer than 10 inches.
16. The weight of raccoons can vary from 5 to 25 kilograms. However, the average is around 5 to 12 kilograms.
17. The raccoons that live near tropics have smaller body and the ones that live in colder areas are bigger.
18. Male raccoons are around 15 to 20% bigger and heavier than females.
19. Did you know a raccoon weighs nearly double during winters due to fat storage?
20. The largest raccoon ever recorded weighed 28.4 kilograms and had a length of 55 inches.
21. The fur around the eyes appear more or less like a bandit’s mask. This indirectly increased their reputation for mischief.
22. They have rounded ears. The fur on the body consists of long and stiff hairs.
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23. The fur is mostly gray in color and the fur has light shades of brown. The fur helps in keeping the body warm.
24. They can run at a speed of 16 to 24 kmph or kilometers per hour. They can stand on their two legs but they run or climb fast. They can fall from a height of 35 to 40 feet with no injury to their body.
25. They can swim with a speed of 5 kilometers per hour. They can stay in water for long durations.
26. They have comparatively bigger brains. The sense of touch is the most important sense for raccoons. The front paws of the raccoons are extremely sensitive.
27. They are either color blind or have poorly developed sense of color. Their sense of smell is developed in a better way.
28. They can sense sounds from 50 to 85 Hertz.
29. Time and again, it has been proved by multiple studies, that raccoons are extremely intelligent animals. They don’t have any problem in unlocking complex locks and they can unlock even when they were rearranged or locked upside down.
30. The density of neurons in raccoon’s cerebral cortex can be compared with that of primates.
31. Raccoons prefer forests and tropical areas which are near lakes (as their primary diet is made of amphibians, other water animals, etc.).
32. They use naturally made dens and burrows made by other animals for sleeping, resting, and hibernating.
33. Raccoons are common from Canada to Panama. They are kind of extinct in Cuba, Jamaica, etc. Apart from the USA, Canada, etc. they are found in Germany, France, Italy, some regions of erstwhile USSR, Japan, etc.
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34. Thanks to their adaptability and intelligence, they easily get adjusted in urban areas of Chicago, Toronto, Washington D.C., etc.
35. They are not as solitary as thought earlier. The females that live in an area meet each other during resting or feeding time. Males from a particular area also make a group so that they can defend their territory from males of other area or other animals.
36. The territory of raccoons varies in respect of age, sex, habitat, etc.
37. They are nocturnal. Their diet is essentially made up of plants (33%), vertebrates (27%), and invertebrates (40%).
38. The raccoons prefer walnuts, acorns, etc. which help them to save fat for winters.
39. They prefer to prey on animals that are easy to kill. They don’t go for birds or mammals but they go for amphibians, eggs, fish, etc.
40. They don’t hibernate but spend most of their time in burrows during winters.
41. One of the most interesting raccoon facts is that they douse their prey i.e., they dabble the prey in water and rub it to remove dirt and unwanted parts.
42. This dousing looks like washing. This characteristic is seen even in pet raccoons. This is more prevalent when there is a water source near to the raccoon both in wild and in captivity.
43. The exact reason for dousing among some raccoons is not known for sure.
44. They mate between January and mid-March. The mating of raccoons depends on solar conditions.
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45. The males wait for females and indulge in foreplay, mating for over an hour. The mating sessions go on for several days.
46. The weaker males also get to mate with females because the stronger or the alpha males of a group don’t and can’t mate with every single female in the area.
47. If the female loses her kits (babies) early or doesn’t get pregnant, she will become fertile again around 80 to 140 days after the previous mating.
48. Gestation period is 63 to 65 days. A litter consists of around 5 kits. However, the litter size varies with area.
49. Males don’t usually participate in upbringing of kits. The kits (also called the cubs) are deaf and blind at birth. They weigh around 60 to 75 grams and are just 4 inches long at birth.
50. Their eyes open earlier and when they are around 18 to 23 days, their ear canals open. They start exploring once they weigh around 1 kilogram. They consume solid food from anywhere between 6 to 9 weeks of age. They are weaned when they are 16 weeks old.
51. The kits group splits up after mother shows the eating spots and dens. Female kits stay together and males move a little away from their birthplace.
52. They live for a mere 1 to 3 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 20 years. Their mortality rate is extremely high because of hunting, weather conditions, traffic, etc.
53. Predators of raccoons are great horned owls, American black bears, bobcats, coyotes, cougars, bald eagles, golden eagles, black hawk-eagles, jaguars, etc.
54. The opinion of researchers, wildlife experts and public authorities is divided when it comes to feeding wild raccoons by humans. Some suggest that the wild animals will increase intruding more human space and become dependent on humans for food.
55. The other group suggests food to be given to the raccoons and tips to be kept in mind while handling raccoons.
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56. They can damage human property and crops. According to Purdue University study, raccoons were responsible for 87% of the damage caused to the corn plants.
57. Many cultures like Native Americans have folk tales related to raccoons. In some tales, they are called more cunning than foxes and wolves. In some other stories they are said to have some spiritual powers.
58. They are hunted for their fur to make different types of clothing. They were hunted for their meat as well. During the 19th and 20th century, their fur was like a status symbol and the fur was used as a form of currency in barter system.
59. President Calvin Coolidge had a pet raccoon called Rebecca. People who want raccoon as a pet should have an exotic pet permit.
60. They are listed as least concern by IUCN. A group of raccoons is called gaze or nursery.
61. The dark patches around their eyes absorb light and help them see clearly during the day. During the night, they can easily see the contrast in the objects that they are viewing thanks to their dark patches.
62. City counterparts are cleverer than their country counterparts.
63. Scientists chose raccoons over rats for labs. However, their intelligence proved disastrous for the researchers because they pickpocketed scientists, chewed their cages, etc. They were difficult to breed as well.
64. They make nearly 50 sounds to communicate with each other and humans. They purr, growl, hiss, etc.
65. The poop of a raccoon is tube-shaped. It is around 2 to 3 inches in length. It more or less looks like the feces of dogs. They have the habit of pooping at the same place and when it piles up, it is called raccoon latrine.
66. Raccoons are primary carriers of rabies in the US but as per Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only one person died due to rabies that transmitted from a raccoon to a person.