- Genus/Species: Procyon lotor.
- Conservation Status: Least Concern.
- Location: Most of the United States, Canada, Mexico, parts of South America.
Good Climber, Swimmer and Runner
The raccoon is a shy mammal that lives in wooded areas close to the water. It is very adaptable and can be found even in cities. It has grey to brown fur, a black mask, a bushy, ringed tail and black paws with five toes. The raccoon's paws look a little like human hands. It is a very good climber and can go down a tree backwards or forwards at equal speed! It is also a good swimmer and fast runner. Raccoons make a variety of calls including hisses, whistles, screams and snarls.
The raccoon is about 28 inches long and weighs around between 8 and 18 pounds- which means the smaller ones weigh as much as a new born baby, while the large ones weigh as much as a 9 month old kid. The raccoon eats pretty much whatever it can find. Common foods include fruits, nuts berries, insects, rodents, frogs, eggs and crayfish. A raccoon will sometimes put its food in water and roll it around as though it is washing its food. It is actually softening the food, not washing it.
Raccoons are not endangered in any way. In fact, the opposite is true - raccoon populations in most areas have increased because they do so well around humans. This is because raccoons eat almost anything! The future of raccoons as a whole is in no immediate danger, but many get killed because of their tameness. The best way to help them is not to feed them but to keep them wild.
Did You Know?
- The raccoon's scientific name is Procyon lotor, which means "washer dog" although it is a closer relative to the bear family.
- Raccoons have 40 teeth including four long and sharp canine teeth at the front of the mouth of the raccoon.
- Raccoons have very nimble fingers on their front feet that enable them to untie knots, turn doorknobs and even open jars.
- The raccoon comes out mostly at night when it goes hunting - or raiding garbage cans if it lives in a city.