The raccoon is native to North America and is found throughout the United States. The raccoon is a mammal that is usually 2-3 feet long and can weigh anywhere from 10-30 pounds. They have dense gray fur that acts as a natural insulator against the cold temperatures. The raccoon has three features that are distinctive; their dexterous from paws, facial mask, and ringed tail.
The female raccoon usually gives birth to two to five young with a gestation period lasting 63-65 days. The male raccoon has no part in rearing the young (usually called “kits” or cubs). In 4 months, the cubs are weaned and separate from their dens. While the females generally stay close to their home range, the makes usually travel up to 12 miles away, this prevents inbreeding.
In the wild, raccoons life expectancy is usually around 1-3 years, but in captivity they can live for more than 20 years.
Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat both plants and meat. In the wild, they will eat berries, nuts, insects, eggs, fish and shellfish. In residential areas they will scavenge in dumpsters, trashcans, and pet and livestock food.
When disturbed, raccoons can become aggressive and transfer diseases via their bites and scratches. They can be carriers of rabies which is spread through their bites and scratches. If a raccoon is active during the day, they may be carrying rabies, be sure to contact the authorities to safety handle the situation.
There are also several diseases that raccoons carry that can be transferred through their feces and urine. A few examples of these are the roundworm parasite, a bacterial infection called Leptospirosis, and Salmonella.
Their preferred habitat includes mixed forests. However, they are highly adapted and now also live in mountainous areas and coastal marshes. They have also become adapted to urban areas. Raccoons are also attracted to outdoor areas and structures in which people live and usually have food. These areas include parks, picnic areas, campgrounds and homes.
Raccoons normally make their dens tree hollows or rock crevices; if these options are not accessible, they have been known to use burrows dug by other animals, dense undergrowth of a tree, a tree pocket, and even abandoned structures or barns. They are nocturnal feeders, so they come out at night to begin foraging for food. If they are unsuccessful finding food at night, they may be seen foraging during the day. They are very drawn towards garbage cans and pet food that is left outside.