Do you have a little zoologist at home, who is fascinated with black-masked raccoons? Then sharing some interesting information and facts about raccoons can help satisfy your child’s curiosity and boost his knowledge as well. And doing that, sharing that knowledge about raccoons, just got simpler. Here, is MomJunction’s guide on raccoons. Scroll down to learn more:
Interesting Raccoon Facts And Information For Kids:
1. What Is A Raccoon?
Raccoon, scientifically famous as Procyon lotor, is a carnivorous mammal of medium size native to North America. It belongs to the Procyonidae family and famous as the North American raccoon or common raccoon. As a matter of fact, raccoons are smaller relatives of bears with size equal to a small dog. You can find seven different species of this animal, of which pygmy raccoon is the only endangered species (1).
2. Where Do Raccoons Live?
Since raccoons are native to North America, you can find plenty of them in woodland areas of North and South America. Also, you can find these unique animals in Europe, Japan, and Asia. Raccoons prefer to stay in mixed and deciduous forests in areas that are in the vicinity to water. Their adaptability means that they now live in mountain terrains, farmlands, suburban, urban localities, and coastal marshes.
Raccoons create their home in the trees or caves in hollow areas, and people call their homes dens. They prefer to stay closer to their homes i.e. within one mile from their home. They also form their homes in abandoned cars, attics, sewers, sheds, barns, and other man-made structures. (2).
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3. How Do Raccoons Look Like?
Raccoons are fuzzy, and small round dog sized animals with black fur mask falling over their eyes. Even though they appear adorable, cuddly, they can turn vicious when you approach them.
- Face And Tail: The black mask around the eyes and busy tail having four to ten black rings are distinguishing features of a raccoon. Rings of its tail contrast the shade of their entire body and the face mask is darker than the body fur. The color of raccoons varies from light blonde to dark black and shades of brown and red. They have pointed snout and a black nose.
- Weight And Size: Usually, raccoons are 40 to 70 centimeters in length, 12” in tall, and weigh 12 to 35 pounds. Raccoons that live in cold climatic conditions are heavier and bigger than others.
- Other Features: Hands of raccoons resembles human’s hands, as they have five fingers or toes, and they use their hands to gather food and open the doors of trash cans, abandoned vehicles, and shell (3).
4. What Do Raccoons Eat?
Since raccoons are carnivorous in nature, they thrive on the plant as well as animal food courses. Their diet includes:
- Primarily raccoons eat meat, fish, crayfish, acorns, eggs, frogs, birds, mice, and small mammals
- They eat plant food sources such as grapes, apples, berries, cherries, vegetables, grains, grasses, bark, honey, acorn, and hickory nuts. They also like eating watermelons, walnuts, peaches, figs, plums, and citrus fruits.
- Raccoons tend to eat trash and other available food in the urban localities (4).
5. Classification Of The Raccoons:
The family of raccoons mainly comprises four types of raccoons, namely coatis, kinkajous, olinguitos, and ringtails. Here, we list the peculiarities of each kind of raccoons:
- Coatis: Coatis are popular for their agile climbing, and you can find a majority of them in the forests. Young and female coatis form a noisy group of 10 to 20 of them and use different calls for indications. Male animal prefers to stay on their own. A barking call sends coatis on a treetop or thick foliage.
- Kinkajous: Kinkajous are nocturnal mammals that live on trees in Southern and Central America. They possess unusually long tongue that they use to lap up the nectar from flowers. Female kinkajous give birth to one baby at a time in a tree nest.
- Ringtails: You can identify ringtails quickly as they possess long, furry tails with light and dark ring markings.
- Olinguitos: Olinguitos are the smallest of all other raccoons. They are so small that they hide conveniently in the dense forests of South American and humans were unable to discover them till 2013. They are expert climbers and prefer to live on top ends of mountains in South America. Cool, dense fur coat helps them in staying warm in the cold climatic conditions.
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6. Behavior Of Raccoons:
Raccoons are not social animals like dogs; they are solitary creatures. In fact, they are nocturnal creatures, so they sleep most of the day. However, you can find them in the daytime too. Raccoons are solitary animals, so they prefer to live alone. And a group of raccoons mostly comprises the mother and her baby raccoon. In the cold winter months, they sleep more than usual, but they do not hibernate. Raccoons just go to sleep, and their bodies survive on stored body fat. So, during the winter, they tend to lose 50% of their weight. They are active during the summer, spring, and fall.
Certain behavioral habits indicate that raccoons like cleanliness as they wash their food in water streams before they devour it. Also, they dig the earth and create latrines in areas that they visit often. Raccoons are highly sensitive creatures, and association of water increases their sensitivity (5).
7. Do Raccoons Climb Or Swim?
Yes, raccoons can climb with a great agility; in fact, they are excellent climbers. Also, they can withstand a drop of about 35 feet from a tree safely. Besides climbing, Raccoons can swim with an average speed of five kilometers per hour. They can easily cross lakes and river. However, they prefer to swim in deep water only when they wish to get into escape route to get away from any trouble. Raccoons have a slow, shuffle-like gait; however, they can also achieve the speed of 15 miles every hour. Also, they are excellent runners and acrobats.
8. Can You Identify Raccoon Damage?
Raccoons are curious and intelligent climbing creatures so they often cause damage in dominant human localities when satisfying their curiosity. Some of the prominent signs that can help you identify raccoon damage are as follows:
- Tipped bins or trash cans
- Torn shingles
- Pilfered gardens
- Tracks of raccoon, such as prints of five long fingers like humans
- Raided bird feeders
- Agricultural damage, such as damage to corn plants
- Uncapped chimneys
- Invaded attics
9. Which Diseases Raccoons Tend To Suffer?
Raccoons can suffer from various bacterial infections and parasites. Also, they can transmit bacteria and other microbial infections to humans and other animals through their bite or waste. Here, we list some of the ailments that pets and humans can suffer via raccoons:
- Roundworm ( as roundworms are present in the feces of the animal) (6)
10. Do Raccoons Make Any Sound?
Yes, raccoons make different sounds. You can hear their hiss, growl, purr, whistle, snort, and many other kinds of sounds.
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11. When And How Is Breeding Pattern Of Raccoons?
Matured raccoons breed between the first half of the year i.e. between January and June, mainly depending on the atmospheric and environmental conditions. During this period, male creatures roam around their abodes in search of females. They mate between late January and early February or sometimes till the middle of March. Two months later i.e. in April or May, the female raccoon delivers three to four baby raccoons. The gestation period is about 63 days, and male raccoons have no role during the pregnancy. If female loses her baby or fails to become pregnant, she tends to gain her fertility again in 80 to 140 days (7).
12. How Are Offspring Of Raccoons?
Baby raccoons are known as cubs or kits that are born in the early summer. Female raccoons nurture the Cubs, and male raccoons don’t play any role in cub-rearing. Mothers protect their cubs and teach them how to eat and survive.
Cubs don’t possess bands on its tail and mask around the eyes. At birth, eye and ear canals of the Cubs are closed so at birth they are blind and deaf. The channels open 18 to 24 days after the birth so they can see and hear after three to four weeks. Cubs can support their body weight on their legs when they turn four or six weeks old.
For initial two months, cubs live in their dens. When they turn 12 months old, they begin to walk away from their mothers for entire nights. And, they become entirely independent after they turn a year old.
13. Do Raccoons Spread Rabies And Can You Identify It?
Yes, raccoons do carry rabies infection and can spread it to the domesticated animals and humans. Here, we list some significant signs that indicate that a raccoon suffers from the disease.
- Excessive foam or drool from the mouth
- Unusual vocalization
If you notice any raccoon with rabies, you need to inform about it to local animal control authority as soon as possible.
14. Who Are Predators Of Raccoons?
Wolves, cougars, alligators, foxes, big horned owls, coyotes, bobcats, and American black bears are some of the natural predators of raccoons. However, humans cause the majority of the death of raccoons.
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15. How Useful Are The Front Paws Of Raccoons?
Yes, the front paws of raccoons are extremely helpful for them to perform various activities. Their claws resemble the hands of a human. Raccoons use their front legs to catch fishes from water bodies with a lightening quick speed. They can also open the latch of a cage with their paws, pick your pocket conveniently, and untie the shoe laces.
Also, you can quickly identify the footprints of raccoons. If you notice outlines of legs that resemble the hands of a human, then you can say raccoons are in the vicinity. You can often see paw prints close to water bodies as raccoons like to spend most of their time foraging near water (8).
16. Do People Domesticate Raccoons?
Even though most raccoons are wild creatures, some people like to domesticate them. Although they are aggressive and dangerous for humans, young raccoons are not dangerous rather they are very fond of humans. As they mature, they turn aggressive and hazardous. You may find it tough to teach them to follow and obey your disciplines and orders as they can attack humans once they mature (9).
17. Are Raccoons Intelligent Creatures?
Yes, raccoons are very smart creatures. High IQ level is one of the most interesting facts about the animal. Researchers reveal that raccoons are one of the animals that top the mammal’s IQ test. Raccoons possess excellent skills of closing doors and opening the locks. Also, they can remember and recall any complex combination of locking and unlocking mechanism that indicates the level of intelligence of the creature. Also, raccoons have incredible quick learning and grasping skills. Studies reveal that they can memorize the solution of a complicated mechanism for about three years. Raccoons can also recognize and differentiate different symbols.
18. What Is Conservation Status Of Raccoons?
As per the studies and reports of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the pygmy raccoon is only endangered species of the animal. There are less than 250 mature pygmy raccoons present in the wild environment. All other raccoons do not fall in the list of endangered species.
19. What Is The Lifespan Of Raccoons?
According to researchers, the average life span of a wild raccoon is quite short of about two to three years. Wild creatures live for a very short period because of potential dangers of hunting and accidents resulting due to vehicles. However, some raccoons living in dense forests live for about 10 to 16 years if lucky. Average life span of a raccoon in captivity is much greater than wild raccoons. Raccoons in captivity can live for about 21 years or more.
20. Is It Illegal To Feed Raccoons?
Yes, in some states feeding raccoons is illegal. Raccoons tend to destroy thousands of eggs of sea turtles, and this has become one of the principal causes of mortality of sea turtles, particularly on Florida beaches. To protect the sea turtles and prevent their extinction, governments of some states consider feeding the raccoons illegal and charge penalty.
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10 Fun Raccoon Facts For Kids:
- The word ‘Raccoon’ is a Native American word ‘arakum’, which means ‘he who scratches with his hand.’
- The collective name for a group of raccoons is nursery or gaze.
- Male raccoons are known as boar while females are called sow.
- Raccoons living in the northern areas are bit bigger than those residing in the southern regions. You can find the smallest species of raccoons in the south of the country.
- The hands of raccoons possess a bunch of nerves that act as taste buds and transmit the information to their brains. So, raccoons touch any food or item that they come in contact with before they eat it.
- Raccoons love to live in the major cities. Today, you can find 20 times greater number of raccoons in the cities than there were 70 years back.
- One of the most interesting facts about raccoons is that they are more intelligent than cats.
- One of the hypotheses about the black mask of raccoons is that it helps to reduce the glare and enables the raccoons to view better in the dark environments.
- Raccoons have unique communication skills. They communicate with other raccoons by making greater than 200 different kinds of sounds and 12 to 15 different calls.
- Ammonia, vinegar, moth balls or crystals, and Epsom salt are some of the prominent raccoon repellants. You can use them to keep a raccoon away from your domestic environment (10).
Do you have any unusual raccoon information for kids to share? Which fun facts about the furry animal did your kid find fascinating? Share your experience and knowledge with the fellow moms by leaving a comment below.
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