The Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
The raccoon also known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon or northern raccoon and colloquially as coon. It is a medium sized mammal native to North America. It is the largest of the procyonid family with a body length of 40 – 70 cm and a body weight of 3.5 – 9 kg. The raccoon is usually nocturnal and is omnivorous. It’s diet consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods and 27% vertebrates . It has a greyish coat which almost 90% dense under fur, which insulates it against the cold weather. Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythology of several Native American tribes. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later.
The original habitats are deciduous and mixed forests of North America, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes and urban areas. Many home-owners consider them pests.
Previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that they engage in gender-specific social behaviour. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four to maintain their positions against foreign males during mating season. and other potential invaders. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five kits are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersion in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their average life expectancy in the wild in only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas hunting and traffic accidents are the two most common causes of death.