I’m sure you’ve heard about raccoons at some point; that’s why we’ll talk about everything related to raccoons in this article, since it’s known for its colors that are distributed in its body in a very peculiar way; besides, you’ll know for example what its habitat is, what this wild forest animal feeds on, how the raccoon reproduces and the physical characteristics of this fascinating wild animal.
Important characteristics of the Raccoon
The raccoon is an animal known for its peculiar color throughout its body, on the back its short coat is gray, but in certain places has black and white spots, for example, in his tail the black spots go in the form of a ring, and his small face has two spots around his eyes, which easily distinguishes them from other animals. Raccoons can weigh up to 15 kilos, as they are relatively small animals; even in some places, they have been mistaken for cats.
Raccoons are very agile and fast animals because they take full advantage of their front legs that have 5 fingers and claws, which use them to catch any object that attracts them quickly; they can even uncover closed containers, such as some doors, or even garbage containers.
Currently, three types of raccoons are distributed in various parts of the earth; although their appearance is tender, if the raccoon is endangered, it is wild and aggressive, so they are not very sociable with the human species. They love to sleep during the day, so at night is when they go out and make their mischiefs.
Raccoons are omnivorous animals, that is, they feed on whatever they can get, be it vegetation or meat. It should be noted that in terms of vegetation, they love to eat fruits, such as grapes, cherries, nuts, acorns, among others. As for meats, their favorite food is frogs, crabs, and fish, even the eggs of birds.
Raccoons are spotless animals, and it is essential to note that they wash their food, in this case, the frogs before eating them, because some may produce some poison, so they especially wash their food. When they lack food, they go to the nearest garbage bins to look for food.
Raccoons live mainly in forests, especially near rivers. Since humans have populated their areas of residence, raccoons have learned to live with the human race in some way; and in some ways, it has been very profitable for them, as they go to their garbage in search of more food when it is not so easy. The raccoons are excellent climbing animals, due to their fascinating claws in the front legs, also have a great sense of smell, and this helps them to survive.
Reproduction of the raccoon
Raccoons usually have their offspring in the summer season, specifically while it is starting. Once they are born, they live approximately 12 weeks with their mother; once that time has elapsed, they begin to leave their burrows during the nights, until they reach sufficient maturity (which would be at 12 months or so) and there they go entirely, since they are entirely independent and can defend themselves by themselves.
They are animals that many times have been in danger of extinction, due to the predominant hunting that they have had for years; because the people that kill them for sport often sell their skin in the black markets with costly prices.
Also, as the raccoons are very uneasy animals, high quantity of them has died because some vehicle runs over them; nevertheless, sometimes they go in search of new experience and end up lost, which has caused that many of them die by malnutrition.
The curious fact about the raccoons
Because raccoons are so aggressive, professionals recommend keeping them a little away from human life; in fact, they recommend not having them as pets; the reason is because the raccoon carries and transmits intestinal worms, as well as rabies and transmits leptospirosis, which is a hazardous infection that mainly affects the respiratory system, giving fever and seriously affecting some organs, so it can be deadly.
Given these characteristics, although man has helped the raccoons survive without so much suffering. He also keeps to himself by taking the necessary measures not to get sick.
Types of raccoons
There are three species of raccoon and several subspecies, each with its particular characteristics. Therefore, before we find out which animals are similar to the raccoon, we will show you some images of the types of raccoons that exist:
The Crab-eating Raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) is also known as the South American raccoon, as it inhabits a large number of countries on the continent, including Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. It measures 70 cm long and reaches 15 kg. It is a solitary animal and a good climber. It feeds on crabs, shrimp and fish. It prefers to live sheltered in tree holes, rock crevices, abandoned buildings and similar spaces.
The northern raccoon (Procyon lotor) is found in Panama, the United States and Canada. It can live up to 20 years in captivity and an average of 12 years in its natural habitat. One of the main threats to the Boreal Raccoon is indiscriminate hunting, especially in the United States. In addition, the species is often run over on roads, as they stray from their natural habitats into human populations.
The Guadeloupe raccoon (Procyon lotor minor) is named after the region of Guadeloupe, located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea. Unfortunately, this species is in danger of extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has classified it as “Endangered”. Its main threat is hunting and the deterioration of its habitat.
Tres Marías Raccoon
The Tres Marias raccoon (Procyon lotor insularis), owes its name to the region it inhabits, as it is native to the islands called the Tres Marias, located in the Pacific Ocean. It is characterized by a coat of brown shades instead of gray.
The Cozumel raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus) is an endemic species of the island of Cozumel, off the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico). This specimen differs a little from the other raccoon species: first of all, it is much smaller and weighs 4 kg, in addition, it has a black band from each cheek to each eye, and it has a golden tail. This species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.
Although they are not related, there are some animals similar to the raccoon. Among them it is possible to mention:
The South American ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua) is an omnivorous mammal that inhabits the Americas, specifically the United States, Argentina and Paraguay. It reaches 140 cm in length and the size of its tail stands out, which can be as long as its body. Its limbs, however, are short, while the snout is elongated and the eyes are large. The behavior of the species is different from that of raccoons, since they are very sociable animals and usually live in communities of 5 to 20 individuals.
The Lesser Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is native to the Asian continent. It is 60 cm long and weighs a mere 5 kg. It is known as the raccoon-like animal that eats bamboo, since its diet is based mainly on this plant. In addition, it also feeds on roots, fruits, eggs, birds and lizards. As for its appearance, it has a reddish-brown body, very soft to the touch and with white spots on its face.
This species is classified as “Vulnerable” according to the IUCN Red List. The loss of its habitat has been the main cause of this situation, due to the disappearance of its food sources. In addition, indiscriminate hunting and deforestation have contributed to its deterioration in a short time.
The kinkajou (Potos flavus) is a mammal native to the forests of Central and South America. It is noted for its prominent tail, which it uses to climb and swing on tree branches. In addition, its body reaches 58 cm in length, is elongated and muscular, with a rounded head and eyes, and short, skillful legs. As for its coat, is dense and short, are presented in different shades, but it is common the brown or yellow. This species feeds on flowers, herbs, bird eggs, insects and honey, among others. After the gestation period, the female gives birth to only one offspring.
North American Ringtail
The North American Ringtail or Ring-tailed cat (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal native to North America, where it lives in rocky areas, in areas with trees, or even in abandoned buildings where it makes its burrows. It is 40 cm long and has a tail of the same size. It is a light animal, weighing only 1.5 kg. Its coat varies, the color can be yellowish gray or dark brown, with a black ringed tail and white chest. It is a nocturnal and solitary species, making it difficult to spot. It feeds on fruits, plants, insects, lizards and small birds.
The olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) inhabits Colombia and Ecuador, where it lives in humid areas. It feeds on some insects, fruits and plants. It is characterized by its dark, brown and black tones. It has an average size of 35 cm long and weighs 900 grams. It is a solitary species and a good jumper, a method it uses to move through tree branches.