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Raccoon

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Raccoon
Sleeping Raccoon.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species
Baby Raccoon
BAby raccoon.jpg

You might see a raccoon at night looking through your garbage can or scampering around in your yard. They are very distinctive animals with there bandit mask and black ringed tail. They are one of the few animals that have benefitted from contact with humans. [1] They are nocturnal animals and will eat about anything you give them. The raccoon’s main home is their dens in the forest. In the early summer is when the mother usually has her cubs. Their babies usually have to stay in their den for the first two months after that they go off with their mother to explore the unknown. In the spring and summer the raccoon starts to store fat and when the cold winter season comes they will go in their den and sleep through winter. They will wake up in spring and start the life cycle over again. Raccoons usually live two to three years. [2]

Contents

Anatomy

Raccoon Skeleton
Raccoons have a very distinctive fur coat. They have grayish brown fur with black rings around the tail and a black mask around the eyes on the face. These looks kind of make them look like a robber or bandit. The tail has around 5-7 solid black ringlets that is completely surround the tail and always end with a black tip on the end when it is an adult. Their tail is particularly important for the winter because it can store fat to keep it very warm. It is also very helpful to keep balance when they are sitting or climbing on things. The main fur that surrounds their whole body is usually grayish, white, brownish mixed in but some raccoons have reddish brown or even golden fur in which case the tail does not have black ringlets but brown. Those raccoons are very rare. Their paws look like long human hands as well as their feet. Each of the paws has five fingers with five non retractable claws. [3] Raccoons can grow up to eighteen to twenty inches long not including the tail, which is around nine to twelve inches long. Males are usually heavier then female raccoons. New born babies are not born with the black around the eyes and tail but take a couple days to develop them. [4]

Reproduction

During the months of January through March is usually when raccoons mate. [5] During these seasons the females will find a place to wait for the male to come and find her. She will usually go to a den or something like that. When she finds a place she then waits for a male to come and mate with her. The male raccoons go and look for a female and if they find her they will go into her den. If she accepts him they will mate in there. After that is done they male will leave and go find other females to mate with. Sometimes the female will even chase the male off because it may even attack her babies once they have been born. [6] Once the female is pregnant it will take around two months until the baby’s are born. [7]Usually the liter is between 4-6 babies. Around three weeks is when the baby’s eyes usually open. Once they are around 9 to 12 weeks they are able to go hunting for food with their mother. Some babies though, stay with their mother up to a year. [8]

Ecology

The native range is red, the introduced range is blue.
Raccoons mainly live in North America but mostly live in the upper northwest and Canada. Their habitat is usually in a forestry area. They like living near streams, ponds, and marshes in forests. Since it is in the wild it will sometimes den in hollow logs, tree hollows and rarely mountain caves. But in urban areas you could see them nesting anywhere from drainpipes, basements, crawl spaces and attics. [9] There was a study that showed out of 300 Raccoons that 89 had dens in hollow trees, 99 in tree roots, 29 in tree nests, 24 in rock dens, 66 in ground dens, and 2 in barns. Raccoons are omnivorous so their diet consists of everything from crayfish to soybeans. This diet also consists of; grasshoppers, grapes, corn, worms, beetles, walnuts, cherries, mice, bird eggs, small snakes, acorns, berries, and garden vegetables. When they are in urban areas it’s very common to see one looking through a garbage can though. [10] Raccoons usually walk on all fours but are able to stand and walk on two feet. Their vision is very bad but it makes up for their sense of touch which is amazing. Their sense of smell is also very good from close distances but when something is far away they are not able to smell anything. [11]

Interesting Raccoon Facts

  • The raccoon name came from the word Algonquian which means he who scratches with hands
  • The largest raccoon ever recorded was 61 pounds
  • Raccoons are nocturnal
  • The female raccoon can only get pregnant once a year
  • In some states you are able to have raccoons as pets
  • Raccoon babies are called kits or cubs [12]
  • Raccoon babies will over eat when they are nursing from their mother
  • In large cities their can be up to 8,000 raccoons living there [13]
  • There are as many as 35 subspecies groups that are recognized today
  • Raccoons are the most common carriers of rabies in the US [14]
  • A raccoon baby will not open its eyes until 3 weeks old [15]

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