Last modified on March 11, 2022, at 04:10

Raccoon

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Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are adorable, medium-sized mammals with black masks, tiny hands and ringed tails. Their fur is grey, brown, or reddish black. The mixture of light and dark colors on their fur helps to camouflage, or blend into the forest or urban environment. Adult raccoons weigh 15-20 pounds. A raccoon's tracks look like a toddlers hands and footprints, but raccoons cannot oppose their thumbs like humans can. Raccoons can, however, open garbage cans, jars, and latches. The raccoon's scientific name, Procyon lotor, means “washer” because it seems to wash its food. However, the raccoon does not always dip its food in water. It may also eat the food even if it is still dirty. Scientists used to think that the raccoon didn't have enough saliva to swallow its food. They assumed the raccoon needed to wet its food to be able to swallow it. But now they know that raccoons indeed do have enough saliva. The new reason scientists think raccoons wash their food is to press it and squash it to make sure there are no sharp bones or dangerous bits in the food. The name “raccoon” may have come from the Algonquin Indian word “arukun,” which means “he who scratches with his hands.”

Habitat

The raccoon lives in almost all areas of the United States, southern Canada and northern Mexico. Although it prefers to live in woods near a stream or marsh, the raccoon is a very adaptable animal. Instead of using a tree to sleep in, it can use a chimney or a ditch. Because many of the raccoon's natural habitat areas are being destroyed, it moves in closer to man, using the same habitat, and even eating the same foods as them.

Food

In the wild, a raccoon is an omnivore, eating plants and animals. Its menu includes plants like berries, acorns, and grapes. It also eats animals including baby mice, baby birds & eggs, frogs, fish, crayfish, fiddler crabs, , and even some snakes. Around people, the raccoon loves to eat corn found in garbage, other common vegetables in gardens, and even animals that have been killed by cars (roadkill). Essentially, the raccoon can live almost anywhere and eat nearly everything. It can walk, run, climb, and swim. It usually walks on all fours, but can stand up straight to see over tall stumps or grasses. Raccoons live about five years and the wild and up to 20 in captivity. [1][2]

Lifestyle

Raccoons are usually nocturnal or crepuscular, but in warm states, like Albania, they often come out during the day. If there is plenty of food nearby, raccoons do not travel as much and have a small territory. They choose several trees inside their home range that they like to sleep in, and use different trees on different nights. Raccoons usually live alone, and the father does not help the mother to raise the babies. Three to seven babies are born around February. When they are ten weeks old, the babies leave the den and follow their mother around learning to hunt. They stay near her until the fall, when they set out on their own. Raccoons do not hibernate, but they may eat extra food in the autumn to store energy.

Rabies

Raccoons can catch diseases like rabies and distemper which make them act very strangely. [3] A healthy raccoon will hardly ever walk right up to a person (unless someone has been feeding it). If a raccoon exhibits these symptoms, it may be sick, and the area should immediately be evacuated and/or put into lockdown if it is in a public area. Often, the raccoons that get hit by cars are sick (or perhaps trying to eat other roadkill). Humans can catch rabies if they are bitten. If someone is bitten, they must get shots to prevent contracting the disease. Shots obviously do not feel pleasant, but they are a viable alternative to getting the disease and dying. The best thing to do is at no time touch, feed, or go near a wild animal. A full grown adult looks very tall and dangerous to a wild animal. The raccoon may bite you because it is afraid. If you stay away from the animal, it will not be able to bite you.

Raccoons In Popular Culture

The raccoon is very common and well loved in popular culture due to its cleverness and humorous antics. Among the appearances are

The Raccoons: A Canadian animated series sometimes seen in the US.

RJ Raccoon: The lovable protagonist from the comic strip and CGI animated film Over The Hedge. RJ was voiced by Bruce Willis.

Ranger Rick: A forest ranger character owned by the National Wildlife Federation, appearing in his own children's magazines [4]. His goal was to teach children conservation and nature studies.

The Orphans: Characters created by the Swiss Colony mail order food company has three baby raccoons on a variety of products from log shaped chocolate cakes to coffee mugs.

Timothy Goes To School: A series of children's book and a short lived animated series about a young raccoon and his adventures with his fellow animal friends at school.

Sly Cooper: The titular raccoon thief from the Sly Cooper video game series, known for his stealth, loyalty to his friends, and good sense of humor.

Rocket Raccoon: A bipedal raccoon-like creature from the Guardians of the Galaxy comics and films, known for his arrogance and foul mouth yet deeply loyal to his friends and allies.

References

  1. https://www.orkincanada.ca/blog/raccoon-lifespan/
  2. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/raccoon-nation-raccoon-fact-sheet/7553/
  3. https://www.skedaddlewildlife.com/blog/how-to-tell-if-a-raccoon-is-rabid/
  4. https://rangerrick.org/