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The raccoon is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the Procyonidae family that live all over North America. They are about the size of a small dog and a raccoon can live up to 21 years.
Keep reading for more information on these resourceful animals or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Facts About Raccoons
- The raccoon’s scientific name is Procyon lotor, which translates to “before-dog washer”.
- It belongs to the Procyonidae family.
- The raccoon is a mammal native to North America.
- There are seven species of raccoons in various locations from Alaska to Argentina.
- The only raccoon commonly encountered as a pest is the North American raccoon, Procyon lotor.
- This raccoon is found throughout the United States and Mexico and in subarctic Canada.
- It has also been introduced to Germany and Japan.
- The raccoon is sometimes called the common raccoon to distinguish it from other species.
- Raccoons are stout creatures with small erect ears, short legs, and a pointed muzzle.
- A raccoon body is anything from 16 – 28 in (40 – 70 cm) in length.
- Their body weight varies greatly, from 11 – 57 lb (5 to 26 kg).
- Males are usually heavier than females by 15 to 20%.
- The raccoon’s grayish coat is mostly dense underfur. This insulates the raccoon against the cold weather.
- Three of the raccoon’s most distinctive features are;
- its facial mask
- its ringed tail
- it’s extremely dexterous front paws.
- Raccoons are nocturnal (active at night) and omnivorous (feed on a variety of food of both plant and animal origin).
- Their diet consists of invertebrates (cold-blooded animals with no backbone, like spiders and moths), plants, and vertebrates (species with a backbone, like birds and fish).
- The smallest specimens of raccoon live in the southern region of Florida. The raccoons living further north tend to be larger.
- Raccoons can stay in the water for several hours and swim at an average speed of 3 mph (5 km/h).
- Raccoons can climb down trees headfirst. They can do this because they can rotate their hind feet, so they are pointing backward. This is an unusual ability for a mammal this size.
- The raccoon is noted for its intelligence.
- Raccoons can make over 50 different noises.
- Studies show that raccoons are able to remember solutions to tasks for at least three years.
- Some captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years; however, their life expectancy in the wild is only between one and three years. Vehicular injury and hunting are the two most common causes of death.
- Raccoons can carry the lethal disease rabies, transmitted by bites.
Habitat and Diet
- Raccoons originally mainly inhabited forest areas.
- However, over time they adapted and extended their habitat to include coastal areas, marshes, and even urban areas.
- In urban areas, they are mostly considered to be pests as they damage property, tip over garbage cans, dig up gardens, and sometimes take up residence in attics and sheds.
- The area they inhabit is referred to as the home range.
- Home ranges vary in size from 7.4 acres (3 hectares) for females in cities to 12,000 acres (5,000 hectares) for males in prairies.
- Related females often share a common area.
- Unrelated males have been known to live together in groups of up to four raccoons. This is done in order to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season.
- Tree hollows in old trees and rock crevices are preferred by raccoons as sleeping, winter, and litter dens.
- If such spaces are not available, raccoons use burrows dug by other mammals.
- Although usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources.
- Its diet consists of a variety of different foods and is regarded as one of the world’s most omnivorous animals.
- While its diet in spring and summer consists mostly of insects, worms, and other animals available early in the year, raccoons prefer fruits and nuts, such as walnuts and acorns, available in late summer and autumn.
- Raccoons are predators of eggs and hatchlings in both birds and reptile nests.
- A raccoon can weigh up to twice as much at the beginning of winter as in spring because of fat storage in preparation for the winter period.
Reproduction and Rearing
- Raccoons usually mate between late January and mid-March.
- Males restlessly roam their home ranges during the mating season in search of females to court.
- Conception is only possible during the three to four-day period.
- These encounters often seem to occur at central meeting places.
- The weaker members of a male social group also get a chance to mate since the stronger males cannot mate with all available females.
- After 63 to 65 days of gestation, a litter of two to five young is born.
- The baby kits (also called “cubs”) are blind and deaf at birth, but their mask is already visible against their light fur.
- The birth weight of a raccoon is between 2.1 and 2.6 oz (60 – 75 g)
- Kits are about 4 in length (about 10 cm).
- Their ear canals only open at about 18 to 23 days, a few days before their eyes open for the first time.
- Once the kits weigh about 2 lb (1 kg), they begin to explore outside their den.
- They start consuming solid food for the first time after six to nine weeks.
- The mother then suckles them with decreasing frequency.
- They are usually weaned by 16 weeks of age.
- In the fall, mothers show their young dens and feeding grounds and the juvenile group splits up.
- Males have no part in raising young.
- The most important sense for the raccoon is its sense of touch.
- The front paws are hyper-sensitive, protected by a thin horny layer that becomes pliable when wet.
- The five digits of the raccoon’s paws have no webbing between them, and the paws lack a thumb.
- Raccoons are thought to be color blind though their eyes are well-adapted for sensing green light.
- Their good sense of smell is important for intraspecific communication.
- Their sense of hearing is broad; they can even hear earthworms underground.
- Sharp teeth, sharp claws, strength, and agility all make the raccoon a survivor.
Did You Know?
- To survive food shortages in winter, raccoons hibernate (become dormant). They gain weight when food is abundant, and this extra body weight provides energy for them to sleep through the winter months.
- Most raccoon deaths are caused by either humans or diseases like rabies and distemper.
- In Central and South America, there is a small species of raccoon called the “crab-eating raccoon”. It lives in marshy and jungle areas where there is an abundance of crustaceans and shellfish.
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Raccoon Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about The raccoon which is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the Procyonidae family that live all over North America. They are about the size of a small dog and a raccoon can live up to 21 years.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Raccoon Facts
- Quick Quiz
- Raccoon Anatomy – How it Works
- Chapalmalania Altaefrontis
- Color Me
- Raccoon’s Early Life – Letter Scramble
- Raccoons and Humans – Reflection
- Racoon Origami
- Raccoon Maze
- Azeban – Fantastic Animals
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a raccoon a good pet?
Raccoons have good memories and can problem solve. However, raccoons are wild animals, so taking one from the wild is not a good idea and is often illegal.
Where do raccoons stay during the day?
Raccoons choose to rest and sleep in various dens in forests, in places such as the hollows of trees, or inside logs during the day.
What are raccoons afraid of?
Raccoons dislike the smell of pepper, onion, garlic, peppermint oil, and Epsom salt, so these will repel them.
Do raccoons sleep in the same place every night?
Raccoons like to change dens often, sometimes moving on to a new den every night. Raccoons might live in a tree one night and move to a cozy spot in your attic the next night.
What animal is a raccoon afraid of?
Raccoons are afraid of their natural predators, which include bobcats, coyotes, and the great-horned owl.
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Use With Any Curriculum
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