20+ Interesting Facts About Raccoons

  1. Raccoons are nocturnal mammals that belong to procyonids. The other members of this mammal family are coatis, olingos, ringtails, etc. Their closest relatives are bears.
  2. There are seven raccoon species. The most well-known is the common (or North American) raccoon. The other six species are limited to Central and South America.
  3. Various experiments have proved that raccoons are intelligent, creative, and innovative. They can understand and copy lessons. Sometimes they use unique methods to solve problems. (Source)
  4. At the beginning of the 20th Century, scientists initially tried to use raccoons in labs instead of rats due to their intelligence and curiosity. However, they could not take this place due to their frequent escapes from cages and other practical issues. During these experiments, raccoons showed a better memory than rats and dogs, comparable to human children. (Source)
  5. Raccoons are omnivorous that eat small (aquatic and land) animals, eggs, fruits, crops, and other plant materials. Their habit of eating eggs, crops, and garbage creates problems in areas with egg-laying animals (birds and reptiles) and humans.
  6. Raccoons live in forest and grassland habitats in the wild. They can also adapt to live in cities due to their omnivorous diet.
  7. Raccoons are native to North America. However, they have spread to other areas in the Americas, Europe, and Asia due to their adaptable behavior. They were introduced to the Caribbean islands in the 1650s, Germany in the 1930s, and Japan in the 1960s. According to estimates, climate change can increase favorable areas for these mammals, which can destroy the northern forests of Asia and Europe. (Source)
  8. Raccoons use their sharp claws to climb trees and other tall buildings. They can also descend from trees headfirst by rotating their hind feet. (Source
    A raccoon climbing a tree
    Raccoons have exceptional climbing abilities

  9. Raccoon latrines form a separate ecosystem due to the presence of seeds and roundworms. Few animals, such as rats, frequently visit these sites to eat seeds because they can tolerate roundworms. But mice, rabbits, and birds avoid these places as they are sensitive to these parasites. (Source)
  10. Raccoons are the largest members of their family. Adult raccoons usually weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Their length, including the tail, is from 23 to 38 inches. Males are visibly larger than females.
  11. The most prominent feature of raccoons is the dark mask under their eyes. It assists these animals to see better on sunny days by absorbing light. (Source)
  12. The average lifespan for raccoons is 2 to 3 years in the wild. However, they can live for up to 20 years in captivity, where they do not face predators and other threats.
  13. Male raccoons mate with multiple females in spring. They usually reproduce three to four young ones following a gestation period of more than 60 days. Babies remain with their mothers for up to a year.
  14. Christopher Columbus was the first European who informed about raccoons through a written record.
  15. Raccoons gain a lot of weight before winter in cold climates. They then sleep for a few days to months according to their weather and latitude.
  16. The maximum running speed of raccoons is 15 mph. They are also good swimmers and can remain in the water for hours.
  17. The sense of touch is the strongest in raccoons. Their front paws are similar to human hands without thumbs. They have four times more sensory cells than most other mammals. Additionally, the part of their brain related to sensory signals is mostly for examining touch.
  18. It is a misconception that raccoons wash their food before eating. These sensory animals usually check their food in the water. (Source)
  19. Mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, and domestic dogs are the main predators of raccoons. Eagles and large owls can hunt young raccoons. Sometimes, they successfully defend against these predators.
  20. Raccoons are the main threat to corn in areas with high populations. In a study, they were behind 87% damage to this crop despite the presence of other plant-eating animals in the region. (Source)
  21. During the 19th Century, raccoon hunting played a vital role in the growth of the North American fur industry. These animals were introduced to Europe during the 20th Century due to their expensive fur. Even today, the purpose behind their hunting is fur and meat.
  22. Various infectious diseases are a major threat to raccoons. The most common of these are rabies, canine distemper, and parvovirus. They can pass some of these diseases to humans and animals and are one of the biggest carriers of rabies among animals.
  23. Keeping raccoons as a pet is dangerous and also illegal in some areas. They are unpredictable, can become aggressive, have special food requirements, and need a vast space to roam.

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