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threatened and/or endangered

Common Raccoon Procyon lotor


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Common Raccoon
credit: Darkone/CCSA

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Family: Procyonidae, Raccoons view all from this family

Description Well known for its dark mask and ringed tail. Grizzled pelage varies from gray to blackish. In winter a yellowish or reddish tinge may develop on the nape of neck. Albino, dark brown, and cinnamon color phases are also known.

Dimensions 63-95cm, 20-40cm; / 60-91cm, 19-34cm, 4.0-15.8kg

Warning In recent years, raccoons have been carriers of rabies, especially in the eastern U.S. Rabies is a serious viral disease that results in death if untreated. Infected animals may be agitated and aggressive, or fearless and lethargic; normally nocturnal animals who are diseased may roam about fearlessly in daytime. Stay away from any animal that is acting strangely, and report it to animal-control officers. If you are bitten by a possibly rabid animal, you must immediately consult a doctor for a series of injections; there is no cure once symptoms emerge. Because of the danger of rabies, raccoons should not be encouraged to feed on porches, and their dung should not be left around buildings where humans and pets can come into contact with it. Raccoons also harbor a nematode (or roundworm) that, although harmless to the raccoon, is very dangerous and often fatal to woodrats and probably to many other mammals, including humans. Transmission is through the organismís very tiny eggs, found in soil and dung, which become much more infective with time.

Habitat Swamps, marshes & bogs, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Deserts, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Meadows & fields, Grasslands & prairies, Forests & woodlands, Alpine & subalpine habitats, Canyons & caves, Cities, suburbs & towns

Range Plains, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Florida, Texas, California, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Western Canada

Discussion Omnivore and semiaquatic forager, using their dexterous hands to find and catch small prey. Raccoons are probably the most omnivorous mammal in the world, and will eat whatever food items are most common in an area. They have learned how to exploit human foods in many areas, including agricultural crops and urban garbage. Typically solitary, urban raccoons have learned to tolerate each other where food is abundant and they can reach densities of 50-100 animals per km2. Nocturnal. Larger in north, where well-fed animals can reach 50% body fat. Common in every habitat with water sources.