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Critter Guide
Mammals: Raccoon


Raccoons are known for their intelligence and ability to get out of any jam. Their survival skills make them one of the icons of the American wilderness. Humans well know that it's nearly impossible to outsmart them and keep them out of garbage cans!

Where do they live?:

There are six species of raccoons and they are distributed throughout North America, Canada, parts of Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Raccoons are nocturnal creatures.

What do they eat?:

Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat practically anything. Springtime means meat: invertebrates, insects, squirrels, rabbits, muskrats, and clams. Summertime means nuts and fruits, as well as turtles, fish, frogs, and insects. Since they den during the winter, they must eat a great deal in the fall. Nuts make up the bulk of their fall diet, as does corn. Raccoons will even go after the larvae of termites, ants, and bees.

Social Environment:

Males and females stay apart until mating season, which begins in early February. Males will mate with many females, but females choose one male and mate with only him during mating season. Babies are typically born in May and the male plays no role in their care. Females give birth to three to seven cubs and this family group is a very social one, doing everything together from hunting to denning. This family group stays together until the following spring when the mother has another litter.

Critter Fact:

Raccoons den in whatever is available and safe for their family. Caves, animal burrows, and barns are used. In the city, raccoons can be found in sewers, and in the attic, garage, and chimneys of homes.

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Did You Know?

Raccoons have paws like human hands, which can pry, handle, unlock, and unscrew just about anything.