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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

"Raccoons are among the most adaptable of the Carnivora, able to live comfortably in cities and suburbs as well as rural and wilderness areas. They use small home ranges, as small as 1—3 square km, and show flexibility in selecting denning sites, from tree hollows to chimneys to sewers. A varied diet is at the root of their adaptability. Raccoons eat just about anything, finding food on the ground, in trees, streams, ponds, and other wet environments, and from unsecured trash cans, which they open adroitly by hand. They can live anywhere water is available, from the deep tropics well into southern Canada. Even in the suburbs, Raccoons can occur at densities of almost 70 per square km. Females can breed when they are not yet a year old, and typically have litters of four young, which they raise themselves. The female nurses her cubs for about 70 days. The cubs' eyes open at 18—24 days and they begin exploring the world outside the den when they are 9—10 weeks old. By 20 weeks of age they can forage on their own."

Adaptation: As an adaptation to an omnivorous diet, the molars of the Northern Raccoon, Procyon lotor, have lost their flesh-eating crests and have evolved a blunt-cusped crow, which is more efficient in crushing and grinding tough foodstuffs.

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  • Original description: Linnaeus, C., 1758.  Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classis, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tenth Edition, Vol. 1. Laurentii Salvii, Uppsala, 1:48, 823 pp.
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The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is the most abundant and widespread medium-sized omnivore in the North America. They are found throughout Mexico, Central America, the United States, except at the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains, and into southern Canada (Kaufmann, 1982). During the last 50 years, raccoon populations in the United States have increased greatly (Sanderson, 1987). In suburban areas, they frequently raid garbage cans and dumps. Raccoons are preyed on by bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and great horned owls (Kaufmann, 1982). Twenty-five subspecies are recognized in the United States and Canada; however, most researchers do not identify the subspecies studied because different subspecies inhabit essentially nonoverlapping geographic ranges.

Raccoons measure from 46 to 71 cm with a 20 to 30 cm tail. Body weights vary by location, age, and sex from 3 to 9 kg (Kaufmann, 1982; Sanderson, 1987).

Raccoons are found near virtually every aquatic habitat, particularly in hardwood swamps, mangroves, floodplain forests, and freshwater and saltwater marshes (Kaufmann, 1982). They are also common in suburban residential areas and cultivated and abandoned farmlands (Kaufmann, 1982) and may forage in farmyards (Greenwood, 1982). Stuewer (1943a) stated that a permanent water supply, tree dens, and available food are essential. Raccoons use surface waters for both drinking and foraging (Stuewer, 1943a).

The raccoon is an omnivorous and opportunistic feeder. Although primarily active from sunset to sunrise (Kaufmann, 1982; Stuewer, 1943a), raccoons will change their activity period to accommodate the availability of food and water (Sanderson, 1987). For example, salt marsh raccoons may become active during the day to take advantage of low tide (Ivey, 1948, cited in Sanderson, 1987). Raccoons feed primarily on fleshy fruits, nuts, acorns, and corn (Kaufmann, 1982) but also eat grains, insects, frogs, crayfish, eggs, and virtually any animal and vegetable matter (Palmer and Fowler, 1975). The proportion of different foods in their diet depends on location and season, although plants are usually a more important component of the diet. They may focus on a preferred food, such as turtle eggs, when it is available (Stuewer, 1943a). They also will feed on garbage and carrion. Typically, it is only in the spring and early summer that raccoons eat more animal than plant material. Their late summer and fall diets consist primarily of fruits. In winter, acorns tend to be the most important food, although raccoons will take any corn or fruits that are still available (Kaufmann, 1982; Stuewer, 1943a).

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Distribution

Range Description

Originally a North and Central American species, occurring from the Canadian prairies southwards across the United States (except for parts of the Rocky Mountains and the deserts) to Panama. Introductions since the 1930s of animals into Germany the Russian Federation, and many subsequent escapes by farmed animals across Europe, have resulted in expanding European and Central Asian populations of this species (Mitchell-Jones et al., 1999). Individuals have also been recorded from Denmark, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
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Raccoons are found across southern Canada, throughout most of the United States, and into northern South America. They have been introduced to parts of Asia and Europe and are now widely distributed there as well.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Introduced ); neotropical (Native )

  • Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Wilson, D., S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution Press.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Southern Canada, United States (except parts of the Rocky Mountains and desert southwest), Mexico, and Central America south to Panama; introduced in parts of Europe and Asia (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

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Geographic Range

Raccoons are native to both the Neotropical and Nearctic regions. They have also been introduced to the Palearctic region. They are found across southern Canada, throughout most of the United States, and into northern South America. They have been introduced to parts of Asia and Europe and are now widely distributed there as well.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Introduced ); neotropical (Native )

  • Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Wilson, D., S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution Press.
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Northern raccoons occur across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia,
throughout the conterminous United States except for portions of the
northern Rocky Mountains and Great Basin, and south throughout Mexico
and Central America. Prior to 1950 northern raccoons apparently were absent from
western Wyoming and western Montana. In recent years they have become
common in parts of western Montana but have been seen only rarely in
western Wyoming [6,26,30]. The current distribution of subspecies was
not described in the literature.
  • 26. Lotze, Joerg-Henner; Anderson, Sydney. 1970. Procyon lotor. Mammalian Species. 119: 1-8. [25346]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America

AL AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA ID
IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI
MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY
NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN
TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC
AB BC MB NB NF NT NS ON PE PQ
SK YT MEXICO

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Physical Description

Morphology

The most distinguishable characteristics of the raccoon are its black mask across the eyes and bushy tail with anywhere from four to ten black rings. The forepaws resemble slender human hands and make the raccoon unusually dexterous. Both their forepaws and hindpaws have five toes. Coloration varies with habitat, but tends to range from grey to reddish brown to buff. Raccoons are stocky in build and generally weigh from six to seven kilograms. Weight varies with habitat and region, though, and can range from 1.8 to 10.4kg. Raccoons are capable of acheiving body masses made up of 50% body fat, but it is mostly raccoons in the northern parts of the range that become this fat. Males are usually heavier than females by 10 to 30%. Body length ranges from 603 to 950 mm. Their tails comprise about 42% to 52% of their length, from 192 to 405 mm.

Range mass: 1.8 to 10.4 kg.

Average mass: 6.0 kg.

Range length: 603.0 to 950.0 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 10.428 W.

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Physical Description

Most people recognize raccoons by the black mask that runs across their eyes and their bushy, ringed tails. Their front paws resemble human hands in their dexterity and make the raccoon skillful at many tasks. Fur color can vary from grey to reddish brown to light brown. Raccoons weigh from 1.8 to 10.4 kilograms, averaging 6 to 7 kilograms. Males are usually slightly larger than females. Body length ranges from 603 to 950 mm and tail length from 192 to 405 mm.

Range mass: 1.8 to 10.4 kg.

Average mass: 6.0 kg.

Range length: 603.0 to 950.0 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 10.428 W.

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Size

Length: 95 cm

Weight: 21600 grams

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: Males are 10%-30% larger than females.

Length:
Range: 603-950 mm

Weight:
Range: 1.8-10.4 kg
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Ecology

Habitat

Rio Negro-Rio San Sun Mangroves Habitat

This taxon occurs in the Rio Negro-Rio San Sun mangroves, which consists of a disjunctive coastal ecoregion in parts of Costa Rica, extending to the north slightly into Nicaragua and south marginally into Panama. Furthermore, this species is not necessarily restricted to this ecoregion. Mangroves are sparse in this ecoregion, and are chiefly found in estuarine lagoons and small patches at river mouths growing in association with certain freshwater palm species such as the Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera), which taxon has some saline soil tolerance, and is deemed a basic element of the mangrove forest here. These mangrove communities are also part of a mosaic of several habitats that include mixed rainforest, wooded swamps, coastal wetlands, estuarine lagoons, sand backshores and beaches, sea-grasses, and coral reefs.

The paucity of mangroves here is a result of the robust influx of freshwater to the coastline ocean zone of this ecoregion. Among the highest rates of rainfall in the world, this ecoregion receives over six metres (m) a year at the Nicaragua/ Costa Rica national border. Peak rainfall occurs in the warmest months, usually between May and September. A relatively dry season occurs from January to April, which months coincides with stronger tradewinds. Tides are semi-diurnal and have a range of less than one half metre.

Mangroves play an important role in trapping sediments from land that are detrimental to the development of both coral reefs and sea grasses that are associated with them. Mangrove species including Rhizopora mangle, Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa, Conocarpus erecta and R. harrisonii grow alone the salinity gradient in appropriate areas. Uncommon occurrences of Pelliciera rhizophorae and other plant species associated with mangroves include Leather ferns Acrostichum spp., which also invade cut-over mangrove stands and provide some protection against erosion. In this particular ecoregion, the mangroves are associated with the indicator species, freshwater palm, Raphia taedigera. Other mangrove associated species are Guiana-chestnut ( Pachira aquatica) and Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis).

Reptiles include the Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). The beaches along the coast within this ecoregion near Tortuguero are some of the most important for nesting green turtles. The offshore seagrass beds, which are among the most extensive in the world, are a source of food and refuge for the endangered Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Several species of frogs  of the family Dendrobatidae are found in this mangrove ecoregion as well other anuran species and some endemic salamander taxa.

Mammal species found in this highly diverse ecoregion include: Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), primates such as Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), Geoffrey's Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), White-faced Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), Brown-throated Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) and Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus).  Also found in this ecoregion are carnivores such as Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis),  Central American Otter (Lutra annectens), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Northern Racooon (Procyoon lotor), and Crab-eating Racoon (P. cancrivorus).

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Moist Pacific Coast Mangroves Habitat

This taxon occurs in the Moist Pacific Coast mangroves, an ecoregion along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica with a considerable number of embayments that provide shelter from wind and waves, thus favouring mangrove establishment. Tidal fluctuations also directly influence the mangrove ecosystem health in this zone. The Moist Pacific Coast mangroves ecoregion has a mean tidal amplitude of three and one half metres,

Many of the streams and rivers, which help create this mangrove ecoregion, flow down from the Talamanca Mountain Range. Because of the resulting high mountain sediment loading, coral reefs are sparse along the Pacific coastal zone of Central America, and thus reef zones are chiefly found offshore near islands. In this region, coral reefs are associated with the mangroves at the Isla del Caño Biological Reserve, seventeen kilometres from the mainland coast near the Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Reserve. The Térraba-Sierpe, found at the mouths of the Térraba and Sierpe Rivers, is considered a wetland of international importance.

Because of high moisture availability, the salinity gradient is more moderate than in the more northern ecoregion such as the Southern dry Pacific Coast ecoregion. Resulting mangrove vegetation is mixed with that of marshland species such as Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis), Campnosperma panamensis, Guinea Bactris (Bactris guineensis), and is adjacent to Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera) swamp forest, which provides shelter for White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta palliata). Mangrove tree and shrub taxa include Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Mangle Caballero (R. harrisonii) R. racemosa (up to 45 metres in canopy height), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and Mangle Salado (A. bicolor), a mangrove tree restricted to the Pacific coastline of Mesoamerica.

Two endemic birds listed by IUCN as threatened in conservation status are found in the mangroves of this ecoregion, one being the Mangrove Hummingbird (Amazilia boucardi EN), whose favourite flower is the Tea Mangrove (Pelliciera rhizophorae), the sole mangrove plant pollinated by a vertebrate. Another endemic avain species to the ecoregion is the  Yellow-billed Cotinga (Carpodectes antoniae EN).  Other birds clearly associated with the mangrove habitat include Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Gray-necked Wood Rail (Aramides cajanea), Rufous-necked Wood Rail (A. axillaris), Mangrove Black-hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis),Striated Heron (Butorides striata), Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona), Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor), Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia), and Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus VU) among other avian taxa.

Mammals although not as numerous as birds, include species such as the Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), White-throated Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), Central American Otter (Lontra longicaudis annectens), White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), feeds on leaves within A. bicolor and L. racemosa forests. Two raccoons: Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) and Crab-eating Raccoon (P. cancrivorus) can be found, both on the ground and in the canopy consuming crabs and mollusks. The Mexican Collared Anteater (Tamandua mexicana) is also found in the Moist Pacific Coast mangroves.

There are a number of amphibians in the ecoregion, including the anuran taxa: Almirante Robber Frog (Craugastor talamancae); Chiriqui Glass Frog (Cochranella pulverata); Forrer's Grass Frog (Lithobates forreri), who is found along the Pacific versant, and is at the southern limit of its range in this ecoregion. Example salamanders found in the ecoregion are the Colombian Worm Salamander (Oedipina parvipes) and the Gamboa Worm Salamander (Oedipina complex), a lowland organism that is found in the northern end of its range in the ecoregion. Reptiles including the Common Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor), American Crocodile (Crocodilus acutus), Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) and Common Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) thrive in this mangrove ecoregion.

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Raccoons are extremely adaptable, being found in many kinds of habitats and easily living near humans. They require ready access to water. Raccoons prefer to live in moist woodland areas. However, they can also be found in farmlands, suburban, and urban areas. Raccoons prefer to build dens in trees, but may also use woodchuck burrows, caves, mines, deserted buildings, barns, garages, rain sewers, or houses. Raccoons can live in a wide variety of habitats from warm, tropical areas to cold grasslands.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian ; estuarine ; intertidal or littoral

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is very adaptable and is found almost anywhere water is available, along streams and shorelines. Dens under logs or rock, in tree hole, ground burrow, or in bank den (Armstrong, 1975). In some areas it has adapted to city life and is commensal with the human population. However, raccoons are most abundant in hardwood swamps, mangroves, flood forests, and marshes. Average home range is 90-150 acres (Baker, 1983). Population density was reported as one individual per 10-16 acres by Baker (1983). Typically solitary except female with young. The raccoon is a nocturnal omnivore which forages either singly or in groups. It is an opportunistic omnivore; eats fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, bird eggs and nestlings, reptile eggs, frogs, fishes, aquatic invertebrates, worms, garbage. Obtains most food on or near ground near water.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Central Pacific Coastal Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Central Pacific Coastal Forests ecoregion, as one of its North American ecoregions of occurrence. These mixed conifer rainforests stretch from stretch from southern Oregon in the USA to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada. These forests are among the most productive in the world, characterized by large trees, substantial woody debris, luxuriant growths of mosses and lichens, and abundant ferns and herbs on the forest floor. The major forest complex consists of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), encompassing seral forests dominated by Douglas-fir and massive old-growth forests of Douglas-fir, Western hemlock, Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), and other species. These forests occur from sea level up to elevations of 700-1000 meters in the Coast Range and Olympic Mountains. Such forests occupy a gamut of environments with variable composition and structure and includes such other species as Grand fir (Abies grandis), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), and Western white pine (Pinus monticola).

Characteristic mammalian fauna include Elk (Cervus elaphus), Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Coyote (Canis latrans), Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Mink (Mustela vison), and Raccoon (Procyon lotor).

The following anuran species occur in the Central Pacific coastal forests: Coastal tailed frog (Ascaphus truei); Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa VU); Northern red-legged frog (Rana pretiosa); Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla); Cascade frog (Rana cascadae NT), generally restricted to the Cascade Range from northern Washington to the California border; Foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) and the Western toad (Anaxyrus boreas NT).  A newt found in the ecoregion is the Rough skinned newt (Taricha granulosa).

Salamanders within the ecoregion are: Del Norte salamander (Plethodon elongatus NT);  Van Dyke's salamander (Plethodon vandykei); Western redback salamander (Plethodon vehiculum); Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile);  Olympic torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton olympicus VU), whose preferred habitat is along richly leafed stream edges; Long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), whose adults are always subterranean except during the breeding season; Dunn's salamander (Plethodon dunni), usually found in seeps and stream splash zones; Clouded salamander (Aneides ferreus NT), an aggressive insectivore; Monterey ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii), usually found in thermally insulated micro-habitats such as under logs and rocks; Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus), found in damp, dense forests near streams; and Cope's giant salamander (Dicamptodon copei), usually found in rapidly flowing waters on the Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Range.

There are a small number of reptilian taxa that are observed within this forested ecoregion, including: Pacific pond turtle (Emys marmorata); Common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), an adaptable snake most often found near water; Northern alligator lizard (Elgaria coerulea); and the Western fence lizard.

Numerous avian species are found in the ecoregion, both resident and migratory. Example taxa occurring here are the Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon); Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo); and the White-headed woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) and the Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator), the largest of the North American waterfowl.

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Comments: Various habitats; usually in moist situations, often along streams and shorelines. Dens under logs or rock, in tree hole, ground burrow, or in bank den (Armstrong 1975).

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Raccoons are extremely adaptable. They can be found in many kinds of habitats, from warm tropical areas to cold grasslands. Raccoons prefer to live in moist woodland areas. However, they can also be found in farmlands, suburban, and urban areas. Raccoons prefer to build dens in trees, but may also use woodchuck burrows, caves, mines, deserted buildings, barns, garages, rain sewers, or houses. They easily live near humans. They require ready access to water.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian ; estuarine ; intertidal or littoral

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Cover Requirements

Winter dens - The most commonly used winter dens are in hollow trees.
Tree dens may be in any hollow limb or trunk of sufficient size. Den
cavities examined by Stuewer [35] averaged 11 by 14 inches (29 by 36
cm), and were mostly from 10 to 39 feet (3-12 m) above the ground.
Well-insulated winter den sites may be especially important to northern raccoon
survival in the northern part of their range [11].

Ground burrows dug by common gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), red
fox (Vulpes vulpes), woodchuck (Marmota monax), striped skunk (Mephitis
mephitis), and American badger (Taxidea taxus) are also used, especially
in areas where hollow trees are scarce. Other winter den sites are in
rock crevices and caves, abandoned buildings, brush piles, and on the
ground in swamps under clumps of cedar (Thuja spp.). Common muskrat
(Ondatra zibethicus) houses are used occasionally in marshes where
hollow trees are scarce [6,26,30].

Natal dens - A pregnant female chooses a new den in which to have her
litter. In many areas, hollow trees are the most popular choice.
Underground burrows are also used. Litters may also be raised in rock
crevices, caves and abandoned mine shafts, brush and slash piles,
sawdust piles, common muskrat lodges, wood duck (Aix sponsa) boxes, and
magpie (Pica spp.) nests [6].

All dens are generally located 220 to 460 feet (67-140 m) from water [6].

Daytime rest sites - In marshes, swamps, and open fields the most common
resting site is on the ground in herbaceous vegetation. Usually no nest
is prepared, but in saltmarshes northern raccoons build flat platforms of
cordgrass (Spartina spp.) and rush (Juncus spp.) as much as 1 mile (1.6
km) from dry land. Northern raccoons also rest during the day on bare tree
limbs, mashed-down eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) nests,
and in clumps of Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) [6,21]. Northern raccoons
may change daytime rest sites daily [6].
  • 11. Fritzell, Erik K. 1989. Mammals in prairie wetlands. In: Vander Valk, Arnold, ed. Northern prairie wetlands. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press: 268-301. [15219]
  • 21. Ivey, R. DeWitt. 1948. The raccoon in the salt marshes of northeastern Florida. Journal of Mammalogy. 29(3): 290-291. [25274]
  • 26. Lotze, Joerg-Henner; Anderson, Sydney. 1970. Procyon lotor. Mammalian Species. 119: 1-8. [25346]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 35. Stuewer, Frederick W. 1943. Raccoons: their habits and management in Michigan. Ecological Monographs. 13(2): 203-257. [25343]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the term: hardwood

Northern raccoons are most abundant near water, especially in bottomland forests
along streams, hardwood swamps, flooded areas around reservoirs,
marshes, and mangrove swamps. Populations are low in southern pine
forests, deserts, and mountains above 6,560 feet (2,000 m). Northern raccoons
tend to avoid large open fields; where they have moved onto the prairies
of the northern United States and southern Canada they favor buildings,
woodlots, and wetlands [6]. A mosaic of small open areas and forested
areas with numerous den trees along streams usually sustains the highest
population densities of northern raccoons [30].

Home range - There is great variation in the home range sizes reported
for northern raccoons. Most of the home range diameters fall between 0.6 and 1.9
miles (1-3 km); the maximum reported was 4 miles (6.4 km) [4,6,35].
Adult males generally have larger home ranges than adult females, and
may temporarily expand their ranges to visit several females during the
mating period. Females greatly restrict their movements during the
first few weeks after their litters are born, and juveniles occupy their
mother's home range for at least the first few months after leaving the
den. Home ranges of males and females as well as ranges of northern raccoons of
the same sex tend to overlap broadly [6].
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 35. Stuewer, Frederick W. 1943. Raccoons: their habits and management in Michigan. Ecological Monographs. 13(2): 203-257. [25343]
  • 4. Butterfield, Robert T. 1944. Populations, hunting pressure, and movement of Ohio raccoons. Transactions, 9th North American Wildlife Conference. 9: 337-344. [25270]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Associated Plant Communities

More info for the terms: hardwood, mesic

Throughout their range northern raccoons are found in almost any plant community
where water is available. They are most abundant in hardwood swamps,
mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), floodplain forests, and fresh- and
saltwater marshes. They are also common in mesic hardwood stands, in
cultivated and abandoned farmlands, and in suburban residential areas
[6,26,30]. In the prairie provinces of Canada, northern raccoons are commonly
found in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) parklands [2]. They are
relatively scarce in dry upland woodlands, especially where pines are
mixed with hardwoods, and few are found in southern pine forests [6].
  • 2. Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. 438 p. [21084]
  • 26. Lotze, Joerg-Henner; Anderson, Sydney. 1970. Procyon lotor. Mammalian Species. 119: 1-8. [25346]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the term: cover

Northern raccoons probably occur in most SRM (rangeland) cover types.

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

Northern raccoons probably occur in most SAF cover types.

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

Northern raccoons probably occur in most Kuchler plant associations.

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak-pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES18 Maple-beech-birch
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES27 Redwood
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES31 Shinnery
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES42 Annual grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Opportunistic omnivore; eats fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, bird eggs and nestlings, reptile eggs, frogs, fishes, aquatic invertebrates, worms, garbage, etc.--whatever is available. Often forages along streams. Obtains most food on or near ground near water.

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Food Habits

Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat most things that they find. Corn may make up a large part of the diet in agricultural areas. Malacostraca, Insecta, Rodentia, Anura, Actinopterygii, and Aves are all possible components of a raccoon's diet. Raccoons consume more invertebrate prey than vertebrate prey. In some areas raccoons eat more fruits and nuts than animal prey. In areas populated by people, raccoons also include trash and other foods in their diet.

Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: roots and tubers; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

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Food Habits

Northern raccoons are omnivorous. They eat carrion, garbage, birds, mammals,
insects, crayfish (Cambarus spp., Astacus spp.), mussels, other
invertebrates, a wide variety of grains and other fruits, and other
plant materials. They are selective when food is abundant but eat
whatever is available when food is scarce [6,26,30].

Wild cherries (Prunus spp.), apples (Malus spp.), persimmons (Diospyros
spp.), and grapes (Vitis spp.) and other berries of all kinds are eaten
whenever they are available. Cultivated fruits such as peaches (P.
persica), plums (P. augustifolia), figs (Ficus carica), citrus fruits
(Citrus spp.), and watermelons (Citrullus vulgaris) are taken on
occasion. Nuts, especially acorns, are important seasonal foods.
American beech (Fagus grandifolia), hickory (Carya spp.), and pecan
(Carya illinoensis) nuts, and walnut (Juglans spp.) fruits are also
eaten. Corn is the most important item in the diet in some areas
[6,26,30].

The most important animal food is crayfish. Insects, especially
grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and true bugs, are also commonly
eaten. Among mammals, rodents are the most commonly eaten, including
gophers (Geomyidae), ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.), and tree
squirrels (Sciuridae). Young common muskrat are sometimes eaten in the
spring, while adults may be taken from traps or as carrion. Cottontails
(Sylvilagus spp.) and other rabbits (Leporidae), shrews (Soricidae), and
moles (Talpidae) are also commonly eaten. Even jackrabbits (Lepus
spp.), small northern raccoons, and mink (Mustela vison) are occasionally eaten.
Garbage is a common element of the diet of northern raccoons around farms and
towns [6].

Northern raccoons sometimes eat passerine birds (Passeriformes), woodpeckers
(Picidae), ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), and northern
bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Occasionally they also take ducks
(Antidae) and American coots (Fulica americana). Waterfowl are most
often taken as cripples or carrion during the hunting season. Northern raccoons
also eat bird eggs, including those of ring-necked pheasant, northern
bobwhite, wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), ducks, and shorebirds
(Charadriiformes) [6,15].

Turtles and especially their eggs are eaten in some areas. Fishes are
often taken in small numbers, and may temporarily become important food
items when they are easily caught in drying pools [6].

Despite the great variety of foods eaten, northern raccoons tend to follow a
general pattern of seasonal diet changes. Only in the spring do most
northern raccoons eat more animal than plant food. Crayfish are the most
important food at this time, followed by insects and small vertebrates.
Acorns are also an important food early in the spring before other foods
are available [6].

During the summer northern raccoons in most habitats primarily eat fruits. The
most important animal foods are crayfish, followed by insects and small
vertebrates [6,33]. In the fall plants, especially fruits, continue to
be more important than animals in the northern raccoon diet. Acorns become the
most important food in the winter [6].
  • 15. Greenwood, Raymond J. 1981. Foods of prairie raccoons durning the waterfowl nesting season. Journal of Wildlife Management. 45(3): 754-760. [25272]
  • 26. Lotze, Joerg-Henner; Anderson, Sydney. 1970. Procyon lotor. Mammalian Species. 119: 1-8. [25346]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 33. Schoonover, Lyle J.; Marshall, William H. 1951. Food habits of the raccoon (Procyon lotor hirtus) in north-central Minnesota. Journal of Mammalogy. 32(4): 422-428. [25342]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Associations

Raccoons impact the population sizes of their primary prey items. In some areas where they eat mainly one type of prey, such as crayfish, clams, or insects, this can have a large impact on community composition.

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Raccoons escape many predators by remaining inactive during the day in a den. While active they remain alert and can be aggressive. They are preyed on by large predators such as coyotes, wolves, large hawks, and owls. Their young may be taken by snakes as well.

Known Predators:

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Ecosystem Roles

Raccoons impact the population sizes of their primary prey items. In some areas where they eat mainly one type of prey, such as crayfish, clams, or insects, this can have a large impact on community composition.

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Predation

Raccoons escape many predators by remaining inactive during the day in a den. While active they remain alert and can be aggressive. They are preyed on by large predators such as Canis latrans, Canis lupus, large Accipitridae, and Strigiformes. Their young may be taken by Squamata as well.

Known Predators:

  • coyotes (Canis_latrans)
  • gray wolves (Canis_lupus)
  • large hawks (Accipitridae)
  • owls (Strigiformes)
  • snakes (Serpentes)

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Predators

Northern raccoon predators include mountain lions (Felis concolor), bobcats (Lynx
rufus), gray wolves (Canis lupus), red foxes, coyotes (C. latrans),
fishers (Martes pennanti), and owls (Strigiformes) [26]. Humans hunt
and trap northern raccoons [6].
  • 26. Lotze, Joerg-Henner; Anderson, Sydney. 1970. Procyon lotor. Mammalian Species. 119: 1-8. [25346]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Known predators

Procyon lotor is prey of:
Squamata
Strigiformes
Accipitridae
Canis lupus
Canis latrans

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

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General Ecology

Average home range is 90-150 acres (Baker 1983). Population density was reported as l individual per 10-16 acres by Baker (1983). Winter density was 1/70.4 ha and 1/34.5 ha at two locations in Tennessee (Kissell and Kennedy 1992). Typically solitary except female with young.

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Habitat-related Fire Effects

More info for the terms: cover, density, fire severity, marsh, severity, shrubs

Fire that creates a mosaic of burned and unburned areas is probably the
most beneficial to northern raccoons. Lynch [27] reported that in Gulf Coast
marshes, northern raccoons were favored by "spotty cover burns" (burning the area
when there is from 3 to 5 inches [8-13 cm] of standing water present).
The unburned marsh vegetation provided cover for northern raccoons. Longhurst's
[25] observations at the Hopland Field Station in California showed that
populations of northern raccoons increased in young to intermediate chaparral and
grassland-chaparral interspersion. Populations showed a downward trend
in both mature chaparral and extensive grasslands.

Periodic fire may also help to maintain northern raccoon food. Insects and the
fruit of various plants are important in the diet of northern raccoons.
Populations of insects may increase or decrease as a result of fire
depending on fire severity, habitat, and number of years after fire.
Effects of late winter controlled burning in broom sedge (Carex
scoparia) habitat on arthropod density and biomass were studied by Hurst
[20]. Results of summer sampling revealed that burning increased both
density and biomass of most insect orders. The apparent cause of the
increases was an increased insect food supply in the form of succulent
plant growth following burning in 4- to 5 -year-old broom sedge habitat.

Oaks, persimmons, plums, cherries, and grapes can be severely reduced by
fire in the short term. However, except for grapes, these woody species
require openings for establishment. Edges of burns along forested areas
may be common regeneration sites for many of these plants. Many
fruiting shrubs such as blackberries (Rubus spp.), blueberries
(Vaccinium spp.), and huckleberries (Vaccinium ssp., Gaylussacia spp.)
do not fruit the year of burning but produce the most fruit 2 to 4 years
after fire pruning [19,24].
  • 19. Hon, Tip. 1981. Effects of prescribed fire on furbearers in the South. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute: 121-128. [14818]
  • 20. Hurst, George A. 1971. The effects of controlled burning on arthropod density and biomass in relation to bobwhite quail brood habitat on a right-of-way. In: Tall Timbers conference on ecological animal control by Habitat management: Proceedings. Number 2. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 173-183. [25148]
  • 24. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-65. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 19-27. [11562]
  • 25. Longhurst, William M. 1978. Responses of bird and mammal populations to fire in chaparral. California Agriculture. 32(10): 9-12. [7639]
  • 27. Lynch, John J. 1941. The place of burning in management of the Gulf Coast wildlife refuges. Journal of Wildlife Management. 5(4): 454-457. [14640]

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Timing of Major Life History Events

More info for the terms: cover, litter, polygamous

Breeding season - Northern raccoons are polygamous. Throughout most of their
range northern raccoons mate from January to March, with a peak in February. In
the extreme southeastern United States mating typically occurs later
than it does farther north and continues later into the summer. In
South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana most northern raccoons mate in March. In
Alabama mating occurs from March to June or later, with the peak in
April. Adult females that fail to become pregnant during their first
estrus in the spring may breed again 2 to 4 months later [6]. Northern raccoons
may breed in their first year or not until their second year [26].
Yearling females that fail to conceive during their first cycle probably
do not breed until the next year [6].

Gestation and litter size - Gestation usually lasts from 63 to 65 days,
with reported extremes of 54 and 70 days. Litters of one to eight have
been reported, with mean litter sizes ranging from two to five.
Generally only one litter is produced per year [6,26,30].

Development of young - Northern raccoons begin walking 4 to 6 weeks after birth,
and can generally walk, run, and climb when they are 7 weeks old.
Weaning begins when the young leave the den and begin to forage for
themselves. Most are weaned by the time they are 16 weeks old, but some
may continue to nurse occasionally for several months more. Dispersal
of young from their natal den generally occurs in the year following
their birth; however, some litters may disperse the fall of their first
year [6].

Social organization - Except for females and young, which tend to move
as a family group, northern raccoons are usually solitary. Several northern raccoons
often den together during extremely cold weather; however, and
individuals may feed together at a concentrated food source. Northern raccoons
pair only during the breeding season [30].

Activity - Northern raccoons are typically nocturnal. The peak of feeding
activity generally occurs before midnight. Activity rarely begins more
than 1 hour before sunset, but return to the daytime resting site is
occasionally delayed for several hours after sunrise. Where
sub-freezing temperatures and permanent snow cover prevail during the
winter in northern latitudes, northern raccoons typically sleep for several
months during the winter. Snow cover is more important than low
temperatures in initiating dormancy. Later in the winter, however, 1 to
3 days of temperatures above freezing may bring northern raccoons out to forage
even in deep snow. In the southern states northern raccoons are generally active
throughout the winter [6].

Life span - Most northern raccoons in the wild live less than 5 years. Mean life
spans of 3.1 and 1.8 years have been reported [6]. Northern raccoons in
captivity have lived as long as 13 years [2].
  • 2. Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. 438 p. [21084]
  • 26. Lotze, Joerg-Henner; Anderson, Sydney. 1970. Procyon lotor. Mammalian Species. 119: 1-8. [25346]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Raccoons have a highly developed tactile sense. Their human-like forepaws are especially sensitive and enable the raccoon to handle and pry open prey and climb with ease. They usually pick up food with their front paws before putting it in their mouth. With their fine sense of hearing raccoons are also especially alert. Similarly, raccoons have excellent night vision.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Raccoons have a highly developed sense of touch. Their human-like front paws enable the raccoon to handle and open prey and climb with ease. They usually pick up food with their front paws before putting it in their mouth. With their fine sense of hearing raccoons are also especially alert. Similarly, raccoons have excellent night vision.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Cyclicity

Comments: Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular. May become dormant when foraging trail is covered by deep snow. Young may be active in colder subfreezing weather than are adults. Activity may be reduced on nights of full moonlight.

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Life Expectancy

Raccoons may live up to 16 years in the wild, but most don't make it past their second year. If they survive their youth, raccoons may live an average of 5 years in the wild. The primary causes of death are humans (hunting, trapping, cars) and malnutrition. A captive animal was recorded living for 21 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
16.0 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
21 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
20.0 years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Raccoons may live up to 16 years in the wild, but most don't make it past their second year. If they survive their youth, raccoons may live an average of 5 years in the wild. The primary causes of death are humans (hunting, trapping, cars) and malnutrition. A captive animal was recorded living for 21 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
16.0 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
21 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
20.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 21 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild these animals rarely live more than 5 years (Ronald Nowak 1999). One wild born specimen was about 21 years old when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

During the mating season, raccoon males frequently expand their home ranges, presumably to include the home ranges of more females as potential mates. Females are sometimes found temporarily denning with males during the mating season. After mating there is no association of males and females.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Raccoons generally have one litter per year. Litter sizes range from 3 to 7, but are typically 4. The gestation period is 63 to 65 days. Sexual maturity often occurs in females before they are one year old, and in males at two years. Mating season is from February through June, with most mating in March. Northern populations tend to breed earlier than southern populations. Young are born blind and helpless in a tree den, their eyes open at 18 to 24 days of age, and they are weaned after 70 days. By 20 weeks old the young regularly forage with their mother at night and continue to stay in the den with her. The young remain with their mother through their first winter, becoming independent early the following spring. Mothers and young often den nearby even after they have reached maturity.

Breeding interval: Raccoons breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Mating occurs from February to June, peaking in March.

Range number of offspring: 3.0 to 7.0.

Average number of offspring: 4.0.

Range gestation period: 63 to 65.0 days.

Average weaning age: 70.0 days.

Average time to independence: 10 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8.0 to 12.0 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 24 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 80 g.

Average number of offspring: 4.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Females nurse, care for, and protect their young exclusively. The young remain with or near their mother throughout their first winter.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Wilson, D., S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution Press.
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Breeds late winter (late January to mid-March). Gestation lasts 63 days. One litter of 3-7 (average 3-4) is produced late April to early May. Young are weaned at 10-12 weeks. Young stay with mother through winter or until next litter born. Sexually mature in 1-2 years; % of yearlings breeding varies annually and/or regionally. Males mate promiscuously.

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During the mating season, raccoon males frequently expand their home ranges, presumably to include the home ranges of more females as potential mates. Females are sometimes found temporarily denning with males during the mating season. After mating there is no association of males and females.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Raccoons generally have one litter per year. Litter sizes range from 3 to 7, but are typically 4. A period of 63 to 65 days pass from the time that they mother becomes pregnant to the time that the babies are born. Sexual maturity often occurs in females before they are one year old, and in males at two years. Mating season is from February through June, with most mating in March. Northern populations tend to breed earlier than southern populations. Young are born blind and helpless in a tree den, their eyes open at 18 to 24 days of age, and they are weaned after 70 days. By 20 weeks old the young regularly forage with their mother at night and continue to stay in the den with her. Mothers and young often den nearby even after they have reached maturity.

Breeding interval: Raccoons breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Mating occurs from February to June, peaking in March.

Range number of offspring: 3.0 to 7.0.

Average number of offspring: 4.0.

Range gestation period: 63 to 65.0 days.

Average weaning age: 70.0 days.

Average time to independence: 10 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8.0 to 12.0 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 24 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 80 g.

Average number of offspring: 4.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Females nurse, care for, and protect their young exclusively. The young remain with or near their mother throughout their first winter.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Wilson, D., S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution Press.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Procyon lotor

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 9 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACCCGATGGCTATTTTCCACAAATCACAAGGATATTGGCACTCTCTACCTTCTATTCGGGGCTTGGGCTGGAATAGTGGGCACCGCTCTC---AGCCTACTAATTCGTGCTGAGTTAGGTCAACCGGGTACTTTATTAGGAGAT---GATCAGATTTACAATGTAATCGTAACTGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTTTTCATAGTTATGCCAATCATGATTGGAGGGTTCGGTAACTGGCTAGTACCTCTTATA---ATTGGAGCACCTGACATAGCTTTCCCACGAATAAATAATATAAGCTTTTGACTTCTACCACCATCATTCCTACTATTACTAGCATCATCCATAGTAGAAGCAGGAGCAGGGACCGGATGAACCGTATATCCTCCTCTAGCAGGTAACCTAGCACATGCAGGAGCATCCGTGGACCTC---ACCATCTTCTCCCTTCACCTTGCAGGTGTCTCGTCCATCTTAGGTGCCATCAACTTCATCACCACTATTATTAACATGAAACCCCCCGCTATATCACAATACCAAATCCCACTTTTTGTATGGTCAGTACTTATTACAGCAGTACTTCTCTTATTATCGCTACCAGTACTAGCAGCA---GGCATCACCATACTACTCACCGACCGAAATCTGAACACAACCTTCTTTGACCCAGCAGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCCTATACCAGCACCTATTCTGATTCTTTGGTCACCCTGAAGTTTACATTCTAATTCTACCCGGGTTCGGAATAATTTCTCATATCGTAACATATTATTCGGGCAAAAAA---GAACCGTTCGGTTACATAGGAATAGTCTGAGCAATAATATCCATTGGTTTCCTAGGATTTATTGTATGGGCCCATCATATGTTTACAGTAGGTATGGACGTAGATACACGAGCATATTTCACTTCAGCCACTATAATTATTGCTATTCCTACAGGAGTAAAAGTCTTTAGCTGACTG---GCTACCTTACACGGGGGA---AATATTAAATGATCACCCGCTATATTATGAGCTCTGGGTTTCATTTTTCTATTTACAATTGGGGGTTTAACAGGAATTGTACTATCAAATTCATCACTGGATATTGTTCTTCACGACACTTATTATGTAGTAGCACACTTTCACTATGTG---TTGTCAATAGGAGCAGTATTCGCTATCATGGGAGGGTTCGCTCACTGATTCCCGTTATTTTCAGGCTATACACTTAACGATGTTTGAGCAAAAATTCACTTCACAATCATGTTTGTAGGGGTTAACATGACATTTTTCCCCCAACATTTCCTAGGTCTATCAGGTATACCTCGA---CGATACTCTGACTACCCAGATGCATACACT---ACATGAAATACAGTCTCTTCTATGGGATCATTCATCTCCCTAACAGCTGTAATACTAATGATTTTTATGGTATGAGAAGCCTTTGCTTCAAAACGAGAAGTG---ATGATAGTGGAACTAACCTCAACGAAT
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Procyon lotor

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 10
Specimens with Barcodes: 57
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Since the turn of the century raccoon populations have grown and their distribution may have expanded. Their ability to adapt to human-dominated landscapes has contributed to their expansion in numbers and range. Small, isolated, island populations of raccoons may, on the other hand, be threatened. Recent authors consider some island species of raccoons to be conspecific with Procyon lotor, these include: P. lotor insularis (Marias Islands, Mexico), P. lotor gloveralleni (Barbados), P. lotor maynardi (Bahamas), P. lotor (Guadeloupe Island, French Antilles), and P. pygameus (Cozumel Island, Mexico). All of these are considered endangered, P. lotor gloveralleni is extinct.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Timm, R., Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern as the species is broadly distributed throughout North and Central America occurring in a variety of habitats, fairly common, present in several protected areas. The species is not undergoing any significant decline and is adaptable to human conversion of habitat - thus its population may be increasing in some areas.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Since the turn of the 20th century raccoon populations have grown and their distribution may have expanded. Their ability to adapt to human-dominated landscapes has contributed to their expansion in numbers and range. On the other hand, small isolated island populations of raccoons may be threatened. Some populations on islands in the Caribbean are rare and some may have become extinct.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the
United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes
in status may not be included.

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U.S. Federal Legal Status

None [45]
  • 45. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013. Endangered Species Program, [Online]. Available: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/. [86564]

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Population

Population
The raccoon is generally quite common and very adaptable to the human environment and populations are likely increasing in size in suburban areas.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Few major threats exist to the species as a whole. Region threats do exist, however, and include hunting, trapping and poisoning. Commonly hunted for sport and trapped for pelt (made into coats, collars, muffs, and trimmings). It is also one of the more common victims of road kill, especially about suburban areas and water bodies.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species occurs in numerous protected areas throughout its range.
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Management Requirements: See Conover (1990) for information on the use of emetine dihydrochloride to reduce predation on chicken eggs.

In northern New York, relocated raccoons returned to original capture area from distances of up to 17.8 km; most studies indicate apparent random dispersal from release sites, though another study documented homing from a distance of 20-25 km (Belant 1992).

See Taulman and Williamson (1993) for information on a simple apparatus and technique for anesthetization.

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Use of Fire in Population Management

More info for the term: mast

Areas supporting fire-sensitive mast and fruit producing hardwood
species (e.g., large oaks and persimmon) should be protected from
burning until they have established [19,24].
  • 19. Hon, Tip. 1981. Effects of prescribed fire on furbearers in the South. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute: 121-128. [14818]
  • 24. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-65. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 19-27. [11562]

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Management Considerations

More info for the terms: mast, natural

Habitat management - To enhance and maintain habitat quality for
northern raccoons, managers should protect small woodlands in agricultural areas
from severe fire, harvest, and grazing. Wild fruits should be
encouraged, and mast producing trees (especially oaks and American
beech) should be preserved. Streams, swamps, marshes, and beaver
(Castor canadensis) colonies should be protected from destruction and
pollution, and ponds and marshes should be constructed near woodlands.
Den trees and potential den trees should be given special protection.
Stuewer [35] recommended leaving at least one, preferably two den trees
per 15 to 20 acres (6-8 ha) and within 0.25 mile (0.4 km) of a permanent
water supply. Where natural dens are scarce, artificial den boxes
should be set up in woodlands near water [6]. Information regarding
artificial dens for northern raccoons is available in Stuewer [36].

Wilson [41] discussed the following recommendations for improving
woodland areas for northern raccoons in North Carolina: (1) cut no hollow trees
during logging; (2) install artificial dens if den trees are lacking;
(3) manage woodlands for oaks, persimmons, and grapes (including
planting fencerows and field borders with persimmons and grapes); and
(4) keep livestock out of the woods.

Northern raccoons have been used as indicator species for monitoring of
environmental zoonosis (a disease communicable from lower animals to
humans under natural conditions) and pollutants. In Florida northern raccoon
serum is routinely examined for evidence of St. Louis encephalitis,
Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and eastern equine encephalomyelitis
[6].

The literature on northern raccoon parasites and diseases is voluminous. The
only diseases likely to have a significant impact on northern raccoon populations
are canine distemper and rabies [22]. Distemper is widespread in
northern raccoon populations. Although rabies is common in northern raccoon populations,
it does not appear to spread readily from northern raccoons to other species.
Rabid northern raccoons are often passive and unaggressive. Northern raccoons carry at
least 13 pathogens known to cause disease in humans [6]. Extensive
bibliographies on parasites and diseases of northern raccoons are available in
Halloran [17] and Sanderson and others [31].

Northern raccoons are one of the most frequent nuisance animals reported by
wildlife agencies in urban and suburban areas of the United States [8].
Northern raccoons sometimes cause agricultural damage in orchards, vineyards,
melon patches, corn fields, peanut fields, and chicken yards. They are
sometimes regarded as serious threats to nesting waterfowl. In many
cases, however, northern raccoon damage to crops and game species is
inconsequential, temporary, or very local and often caused by only one
or a few individuals [6].

Human activities - Hunting, trapping, and automobile road kills are
believed to be the main cause of mortality in many parts of the
northern raccoon's range [30].
  • 17. Halloran, P. O. 1955. A bibliography of references to diseases of wild animals and birds. American Veterinarian Research 16. Number 61: Part 2. 465 p. [25352]
  • 22. Johnson, A. S. 1970. Biology of the raccoon (Procyon lotor varius Nelson & Goldman) in Alabama. Bulletin 402. Auburn, AL: Auburn University, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. 148 p. [25349]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]
  • 31. Sanderson, G. C.; Mech, L. D.; Schnell, J. H. 1967. A contribution to a bibliography of the raccoon (Procyon lotor). Contract AT (11-1)-1332 (Document COO-1332). [Washington, DC]: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. 51 p. Mimeo. [25353]
  • 35. Stuewer, Frederick W. 1943. Raccoons: their habits and management in Michigan. Ecological Monographs. 13(2): 203-257. [25343]
  • 36. Stuewer, Frederick W. 1948. Artificial dens for raccoons. Journal of Wildlife Management. 12(3): 296-301. [25344]
  • 41. Wilson, K. A. 1955. Fur resource of North Carolina. Pittman-Robertson Project W-6-R. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. 59 p. [25350]
  • 6. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 8. De Almeida, M. H. 1987. Nuisance furbearer damage control in urban and suburban areas. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25347]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Raccoons may be a nuisance to farmers. They can cause damage to orchards, vineyards, melon patches, cornfields, peanut fields, and chicken yards. Their habit of moving on to the next ear of corn before finishing the first makes them especially damaging to fields of both sweet corn and field corn. Raccoons also carry sylvatic plague, rabies, and other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest; causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Uses

Comments: Commonly hunted for sport and trapped for pelt (made into coats, collars, muffs, trimmings). Sometimes regarded as a pest due to destruction of waterfowl nests, killing of poultry, or damage to corn. Raccoon roundworms have caused human fatalities as a result of eosinophilic meningoencephalitis; infection occurs through ingestion of eggs (e.g., from raccoon feces) (Kazacos 1983, Kidder et al. 1989).

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Raccoons may be a nuisance to farmers. They can cause damage to orchards, vineyards, melon patches, cornfields, peanut fields, and chicken yards. Their habit of moving on to the next ear of corn before finishing the first makes them especially damaging to fields of both sweet corn and field corn. Raccoons also carry sylvatic plague, rabies, and other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest; causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Raccoon fur has been harvested for a long time. During the 1920s, "coon" coats were popular making the fur of one raccoon worth about $14. Although demand is no longer as high, raccoon fur may still be sold as imitation mink, otter, or seal fur. Raccoons are also eaten in some areas.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material

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Raccoon pelts have been harvested since the colonial period. During the 1920s, "coon" coats were popular making a pelt worth about $14. Although demand is no longer as high, raccoon pelts may still be sold as imitation mink, otter, or seal fur. Raccoons are also eaten in some areas.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material

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Risks

Species Impact: Raccoon latrines contain infective eggs of the roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, and these sites may be important in the transmission of this parasite to mammals and birds (Page et al. 1998). This parasite is associated with declines in certain populations of Neotoma magister.

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Wikipedia

Bahaman raccoon

The Bahamian raccoon (Procyon lotor maynardi), also called Bahama raccoon or Bahamas raccoon, is a subspecies of the common raccoon endemic on the New Providence Island in the Bahamas.[1]

Classification[edit]

Thought to be a distinct species in the past, the Bahamian raccoon is now assumed to be conspecific with the common raccoon, what was also the result of a study of morphological and genetic analysis in 2003. The assumption that its occurrence on the Bahamas is the result of a human-sponsored introduction just a few centuries ago is supported by the fact that the Bahaman raccoon seems to be closely related to the Guadeloupe raccoon found on Guadeloupe, an archipelago nearly 2,000 km (1,243 mi) away.[2]

Description[edit]

The Bahamian raccoon is small compared to the average size of the common raccoon, making it probably an example of insular dwarfism. Its delicate skull and dentition are similar to the ones of the Guadeloupe raccoon and the small subspecies of the Florida Keys. The coat is gray with a slight ocher tint on the neck and shoulders and the mask is interrupted by a distinct gap between the eyes. On the underparts, only few guard hairs cover the ground hairs.

Conservation[edit]

The authors of the study Taxonomic status and conservation relevance of the raccoons (Procyon spp.) of the West Indies (2003) hold that the Bahamian raccoon is an invasive species which itself poses a threat to the insular ecosystem.[2]The Government of the Bahamas has this species listed as up for eradication on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zeveloff, Samuel I. (2002). Raccoons: A Natural History. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Books. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-58834-033-7.  (This source was used for all information in this article unless noted otherwise.)
  2. ^ a b Helgen, Kristofer M.; Wilson, Don E. (January 2003). "Taxonomic status and conservation relevance of the raccoons (Procyon spp.) of the West Indies". Journal of Zoology (Oxford: The Zoological Society of London) 259 (1): 69–76. doi:10.1017/S0952836902002972. ISSN 0952-8369. 
  3. ^ BEST Commission. http://www.best.bs/publications.html.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Clearwater et al. (1989) studied cranial variation and concluded that P. l. maritimus should be regarded as a synonym of P. l. lotor. See Ritke and Kennedy (1988) for study of geographic variation in cranial characteristics. See Decker and Wozencraft (1991) for a phylogenetic analysis on procyonid genera (analysis based on skeletal and soft morphological characters). The following comments were obtained from Wilson and Reeder (2005): Includes the Caribbean introduced populations of gloveralleni, minor, and maynardi after Helgen and Wilson (2003); includes insularis after Helgen and Wilson (2005). Synonyms allocated according to Cabrera (1957), Lotze and Anderson (1979), and Helgen and Wilson (2003; 2005).

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Common Names

northern raccoon
common raccoon
coon

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The currently accepted scientific name for the northern raccoon is Procyon lotor
(Linnaeus) [16]. It is a member of the Family Procyonidae [16,30].
North America subspecies of northern raccoon are listed below:

P. l. auspicatus Nelson (Key Vaca raccoon)
P. l. crassidens Hollister
P. l. dickeyi Nelson and Goldman
P. l. elucus Bangs
P. l. fuscipes Mearns
P. l. grinnelli Nelson and Goldman
P. l. hernandezii Wagler
P. l. hirtus Nelson and Goldman
P. l. inesperatus Nelson
P. l. incautus Nelson (Key West raccoon)
P. l. litoreus Nelson and Goldman
P. l. lotor (Linneus)
P. l. marinus Nelson
P. l. maynardi Bangs
P. l. megalodous Lowery
P. l. mexicanus Baird
P. l. pacificus Merriam
P. l. pallidus Merriam
P. l. psora Gray
P. l. pumilus Miller
P. l. shufeldti Nelson and Goldman
P. l. simus Gidley
P. l. solutus Nelson and Goldman
P. l. vancouverensis Nelson and Goldman
P. l. varius Nelson and Goldman
  • 16. Hall, E. Raymond. 1981. The mammals of North America. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1271 p. [14765]
  • 30. Sanderson, G. C. 1987. Raccoon. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: [Pages unknown]. [25348]

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