Raccoon Paw Print

 

Raccoons:

The raccoon is a medium-sized, stocky animal with a prominent black "mask" across the eyes, a long bushy tail with black rings, broad head, pointed muzzle and short pointed ears.  Their color ranges from gray to reddish brown to buff, to almost black.  Both front and back paws have 5 toes.  Front paws resemble human hands and are very dexterous, enabling the raccoon to grasp tightly and open mussels or other interesting items (like garbage cans).  Adults weight ranges from 6 to 25 pounds.  Their lifespan is around 5 years in the wild.

Raccoons are primarily nocturnal.  They prefer to live in tree hollows, abandoned buildings, barns, abandoned woodchuck burrows, haystacks and your attic.  Raccoons do not hibernate, but may "hole up" for a few days during inclement winter weather.  They put on a tremendous amount of weight prior to winter.  In the wild, they may lose up to 50% of their weight during the winter months, when food is scarce.

 


Baby Raccoon
Raccoons are agile climbers and good swimmers, and are capable of drowning predators and prey.  They prefer to run or hide when confronted, but will fight viscously when cornered.  Adults appear to live solitary lives, but large groups of raccoons have been observed in the same area where there is abundant food.  They also have a complex range of vocalizations and body language that serves as communication among the species.  Some raccoons may be seen dipping their food in water before eating.  It is speculated that by wetting their feet, there is an increase in tactile sensitivity.   Raccoons may rely more on touch than on sight with regards to food.  Their sense of smell is extremely acute.

Juvenile Raccoon
   

Geographic Range:

Raccoons may be found in the Southern half of Canada throughout the U.S., Mexico and Central America.  In Missouri, the raccoon is found in urban, suburban and wooded area, attesting to its ability to adapt to having humans in its backyard.

   

Food Preferences:

Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic.  In most habitats, plants provide the bulk of the diet, such as wild grapes, persimmons, cherries, plums, apples, acorns and other nuts.  Corn is taken from fields.  Other entrees include crayfish, fish, rodents, frogs, bird eggs, snakes, birds, small rabbits, various insects and worms.  Bird feeders provide some sustenance.  Scavenging through garbage cans and dumpsters seems a favorite for the more urbanized raccoons.


Adult Raccoon
   

Enemies:

Humans, automobiles, dogs, ticks, fleas, parasitic worms, distemper, tuberculosis, rabies and Parvo-Virus.  Owls and coyotes will go after the young.


Juvenile Raccoon