Introduction - RaccoonThe raccoon, also spelled racoon and sometimes referred to as coon, is a primarily nocturnal North American mammal. This species is part of the procyonid family, along with the coatis, ringtail and several others who closely resemble raccoons. They are considered omnivores (meat and plant eating) although they will eat almost anything. A little known fact about raccoons is that although they spend a lot of time in their dens during the winter months, they don't actually hibernate. The information below is meant to give an overview of raccoons including why many raccoons don't live past two, when and how they reproduce, what diseases they carry as well as more interesting facts. Please see the list of interesting Raccoon facts below; written for both kids and adults.
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Raccoon General Facts
- Although raccoons (also spelled racoons) in the wild can live up to 16 years and records indicate a captive raccoon living for 21 years, many don't make it past the age of 2. A small amount of deaths are attributed to predators like cougars, bobcats, wolves, and foxes, but the majority of deaths are due to the acts of humans. Hunting and trapping account for many deaths.
- Raccoons range in weight from about 12-35 pounds (5.4 to 15.87 kilograms) and up to 50% of their body weight can be made up of fat.
- They are known for their masked face and the distinguishing ring markings on their tail. Anywhere from 5-7 dark colored rings appear on the tail in an alternating pattern with brownish-grey rings.
- Their tails often make up over half of their body length which can often be over two feet long (61 centimeters).
- Raccoons are very agile tree climbers and do not mind climbing or falling from elevations as high as 40 feet (12 meters).
- They are considered to be quite intelligent and skilled animals. They use their paws to open trash cans, open doors, and pick up their food and eat it similar to the way a human does.
- Raccoons have bad eyesight and are color blind, but have great hearing and a great sense of smell.
Raccoon Reproduction Facts
- The breeding cycle for a raccoon begins around 10 months of age. Males usually do not breed right away due to the high competition for females.
- Raccoon litters range anywhere from 1 to 7 babies and they are born after approximately 63 days of gestation.
- Breeding season is between January and June and raccoons do not have more than one litter per year.
Interesting Raccoon Disease Facts
- Raccoons have a reputation for carrying diseases that are dangerous to humans. Because they are not picky eaters and will ravage garbage cans and even dead and rotting animals, they are carriers of harmful bacteria and parasites.
- Raccoon roundworm is a microscopic parasite that is extremely dangerous to both other animals and humans. In facts if humans contract the disease from raccoon droppings, it can cause severe nervous system distress, blindness and sometimes death.
- Raccoon rabies makes up almost half of all wildlife rabies cases that are reported in the U.S., followed by skunks, rats, and foxes. They can also pass on rabies to domestic animals through a bite, which can then be passed on to humans.