Bear News Beartown News
JULY 1, 2010



Recognized by its striped face and ringed tail, the racoon has invaded almost every habitat and is commonly found even in towns and cities. The racoon is curious, clever, and solitary and deceptively cuddly-looking. It owes its success to its ability to live in a wide variety of habitats and survive on a flexible diet.


The racoon leads a largely solitary life. It is temperamental and will often fight with its own family members as well as with others racoons. Although most racoons live in the wild, close contact with humans does not bother them. They often nest in empty buildings, garages, sheds, and even the attics of houses. Since racoons are nocturnal animals, they are most active at night. Racoons do not hibernate in the winter, but those that live further north, where it is colder, grow thick coats to keep them warm and spend long periods sleeping.


While the male racoon mates with different females, the female will mate with only one male, avoiding all others that season. Mating usually takes place in the winter months, but may continue until June. About 9 weeks after mating, the young are born in a nest of leaves made by the female in a hollow tree or log. They are blind for their first 3 weeks, but grow quickly. The female cares for them exclusively, teaching them to hunt and to climb trees. With such predators as bobcats and cougars, this is a dangerous time for the young kits. Although some families break up in the fall, the young normally stay with their mother through the first winter, after which they gradually leave. The young females begin to breed when they are a year old; males generally begin at the age of two.


    The racoon normally feeds along waterways and lakes. It hunts as it swims; looking for fish, crayfish, frogs, turtles, and turtle eggs. The racoon will catch mice and muskrats along the banks of streams and rivers and will also search the woodlands for insects, nuts, fruits, young birds and bird eggs. In some areas, the racoon is considered a pest. It raids poultry and wildfowl breeding sites and it eats corn and other crops. In more populated areas, a racoon will frequently knock over trash cans while scavenging for food, using its hands as well as monkeys do.

    Sexual maturity: Males, 2 years. Females, 1 year.
    Breeding season: Mainly winter.
    Gestation: 60-73 days.
    No. of young: 1-7, usually 3-4.



    Racoons have long been hunted and trapped for their fur. In the United States, "coonskins" were once so prized that they were used as currency. They have also been killed because of the damage they do to crops and poultry, their overall number has not declined. Because of its fur, the racoon has been introduced into other countries, notably Europe and Russia.

    Head and body: 18-30 in.
    Tail: 8-13 in.
    Weight: Up to 46 lb.

    Related to pandas and coatimundis


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