The common raccoon (Procyon lotor) is probably best known for its mischievous-looking black face mask. Raccoons are usually a grizzled grey in colour with a tail marked by five to 10 alternating black and brown rings. Body coloration can vary from albino, (white) to melanistic (black) or brown. An annual moult, or shedding, of the fur begins in the spring and lasts about three months.
A raccoon is about 80 centimetres in length and weighs between 6-8 kilograms.
(Please note — these photos are unverified images submitted by members of the CWF Photo Club.)
Habitat: The highly adaptable raccoon’s only apparent habitat requirements are a source of water and food and a protected area for denning. Home ranges vary greatly between 50 square kilometres in some rural areas to less than one-tenth of a square kilometre in many cities.
Diet: Raccoons are omnivorous and will consume practically any food item, plant or animal. They prefer corn, crayfish, fruits, and nuts, but there is a seasonal shift in diet depending on availability of food items. During the spring, animal matter, including invertebrates, or small animals without backbones, and insects, makes up the major portion of the diet. While they prefer crayfish, raccoons also consume muskrats, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl eggs, and freshwater clams.
The breeding season generally begins in late January or early February in the northern parts of the raccoon’s range. Mating tends to take place in March in most areas. Birth of offspring peaks during May, although births have been recorded as early as March or as late as September. Year-round breeding has been reported for raccoons in southern areas.More on this Species:
Hinterland Who's Who
Did You Know . . .
- The name raccoon is derived from the Algonquian word arakun, meaning “he scratches with his hand.”
- There are about 1.1 million raccoons in southern Ontario alone.
- Because the animal can spread its front toes widely, it can use its forepaws to handle food and other objects.
- There are six species of raccoon in North, Central and South America as well as on some of the Caribbean islands.
- A family consists of the adult female and her three to seven young. Family members are sociable, hunting for food together during the night and denning together during the day.
- The average lifespan of raccoons in the wild is three to five years.
- Raccoons’ major predator is human. Other predators include pumas, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, dogs, wolves, great horned owls and fishers.
- To create habitat for raccoons, provide denning sites such as hollow trees and logs.