Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
- The Common Raccoon is between 33 to 45 in. (84 to 104.5 cm) long and weighs 7 to 20 lb. (3 to 9 kg). It has dexterous hands. Each hand and foot has five fingers and toes. Common Raccoons are stocky animals with short legs and small, rounded ears. Their fur is gray, with dark black markings around their eyes, and black bands on their tail. Their belly and muzzle are lighter colored while the feet are darker gray. Raccoons have coarse, medium-length fur and a very bushy tail.
- Life History
- Raccoons are curious, unique, and intelligent creatures. These characteristics help them survive in the wild, but can also make for annoying neighbors. Wild raccoons accustomed to being fed by well-intentioned people will generally loose their natural fear of humans and seek to move closer to their food source-your house. Once raccoons take up residence in an attic or outbuildings they can become very destructive and difficult to remove. Malnutrition, diseases like rabies, and predation by humans, Coyotes and Bobcats take their toll, but raccoon populations are not in decline in most areas of Texas.
Raccoons have excellent night vision and an acute sense of hearing. They are very agile climbers and strong swimmers. They use their nimble fingers to feel stream bottoms for food, to climb trees and to open containers and garbage cans. They can find their way into a house to get food. Their diet includes fruits and nuts, insects and aquatic invertebrates, fish, small rodents, frogs, bird eggs, carrion and human garbage.
Raccoons are almost exclusively nocturnal. During the day they sleep in dens in the trees. During cold winter periods, they may sleep for an extended period, but do not hibernate. They are primarily solitary, and will only gather with other raccoons during breeding season.
Males reach sexual maturity at 2 years; females at 1 year. Their mating season is from mid to late summer. Sixty to 74 days after mating, up to four cubs will be born. Baby raccoons' ears and eyes open about 18 to 24 days after birth. They can walk around by the time they are four to six weeks old. Although they are weaned by three months, they remain with their mothers for another year. Males do not stay to help raise the young. Raccoons can live 10 to 15 years in the wild.
- Raccoons prefer brushy or wooded areas near streams, lakes or swamps, although they can live close to developed areas if sufficient food, water and cover are provided. Though they prefer woodlands, raccoons can live practically anywhere and have adapted well to human habitats.
- Raccoons are common throughout Texas and North America.
- The name "raccoon" came from an Algonquian Indian word arakun, which means "he scratches with his hands." During the 1700s, American colonists dropped the "a" in arakun, and the name became raccoon.