Scientific and Common Name(s)
The common name for the animal presented in the pictures shown is raccoon. The given scientific name for the raccoon is Procyon lotor (Gehrt and Fritzell, 1997). Some common names in Spanish for raccoon are mapache, mapachin and zorra manglera (Tim et al, 2016). A common name in French for raccoon is Raton laveur (Tim et al, 2016).
Habitat and Geographic Range
Raccoons are capable of living in an array of environments due to their ability to adapt to an assortment of environmental conditions and the ability to use different resources for food (Parsons et al, 2013). Raccoons are proficient in different environments as long as there is a source of water, food and a sense of security in the home they chose to survive and reproduce (Animal Facts: Raccoon, 2006). Raccoons have a wide range distribution around North and Central America (Parsons et al, 2013). Raccoons habitats range from hardwood swamps, floodplains forests, fresh and saltwater marshes and in suburban areas (Animal Facts: Raccoon, 2006). In addition, raccoons, have been introduced to other parts of the world such as Germany, Russia and Japan (Raccoon Nation, 2012).
Size, Weight and Lifespan
Raccoons are the largest mammal in the Procyonidae family with an average length in size between 24 and 38 inches (Raccoon Nation, 2012). Raccoons can range between 14 and 23 pounds, where the max weight could be more depending on the availability of food for the raccoon (Raccoon Nation, 2012). Males tend to be larger than females by 25 percent (Animal Facts: Raccoon, 2006). Raccoons found in more northern latitudes tend to be larger compared to raccoons found in more southern latitudes (Animal Facts: Raccoon, 2006). This difference in size between northern and southern raccoons is due to the amount of food that northern raccoons must eat to survive the winter months where they spend their time sleeping (Raccoon).
Raccoons are considered to be resourceful eaters and are categorized as omnivorous eaters (Raccoon Nation, 2012). When raccoons are living close to bodies of water they tend to collect their meals in the water (Raccoon). With the use of their skillful paws they grab crayfish, frogs and other aquatic animals that they ate able to grab (Raccoon). When they are on land, raccoons tend to hunt for mice, insects and raid nests for eggs (Raccoon). Raccoons also eat a variety of plants, fruits, nits and berries and when they are found in suburban areas they may and most likely will sift through garbage for food (Raccoon Nation, 2012).
Reproduction and Communication
Raccoons are able to communicate with each other using 13 different vocal sounds (Sieber, 1984). The 12 different sounds that can be used are whistles, squeals, snort, bark, growl, cry, screech, gecker, grunt, chitter 1 and 2. churr and a purr (Sieber, 1984). All these calls can be organized into tonal, noisy, mixed structure and pulsed syllables vocals (Sieber, 1984). These vocals that they use are used for distress calls, attracting other, repelling others through hostile calls and some are used to maintain contact with others in the population (Sieber, 1984). Some calls are present after birth and other are used during sexual and parental phases (Sieber, 1984).
Through the use of various vocal, raccoons are able to communicate with each other in order to attract a potential mate. Raccoons tend to mate between the months of January and June, where females going through a 65-day gestation period (Raccoon Nation. 2012). A female usually gives birth to 2 and 5 offspring which are called kits in the spring (Raccoon Nation, 2012). In order for a male to increase its chances of having reproductive success they mate with multiple females (Gehrt and Fritzell, 1997). Since females raise her children alone, her reproductive success comes from being able to exploit resources that are nearby (Gehrt and Fritzell, 1997).
Raccoons have a variety of predators in the wild and one particular one in suburban areas. In the wild the raccoon may be hunted by cougars, bobcats and coyotes (Raccoon Nation, 2012). Raccoons also have their fair share of diseases and infections that affect their lives as well (Raccoon Nation, 2012). In suburban areas, humans present themselves as the main threat through trapping and poisoning (Timm et al, 2016). Raccoons are also more likely to be the victims of road kill (Timm et al, 2016). Humans may also hunt raccoons for their fur coats, collars and muffs (Timm et al, 2016).
Raccoons are listed under least concern because raccoon are found widely around North and Central America and remain fairly common (Timm et al, 2016). The raccoon population is increasing due to its ability to adapt to a variety of different situations and habitats (Timm et al, 2016). Therefore, environmentalists are not that concerned with this species as of yet.
Did you Know?
Did you know that raccoons are excellent swimmers (Raccoon Nation, 2012) and that their name comes from an Algonquian word arukan, which means he who scratches with his hands (Animal Facts: Raccoon, 2006).
Ghert, S.D, and Fritzell, E.K. (1997). Sexual Differences in Home Ranges of Raccoons. Journal
of Mammalogy, 78(3), 921-931.
Parson, A.Q., Simons, T.R., O’Connell Jr, A.F., and Stoskopf, M.K. (2013). Demographics, diet,
movements, and survival of an isolated, unmanaged raccoon Procyon lotor (Procyonidae,
Carnivora) population on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Mammalia, 77(1), 21-30.
Raccoon. (n.d). Retrieved from:
Animal Facts: Raccoon. (2006). Retrieved from:
Raccoon Nation (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/raccoon-nation-
Sieber, O.J. (1984). Vocal Communication in Raccoons (Procyon lotor). Behaviour, 90(1), 80-
Timm, R., Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F., Helgen, K. & González-Maya, J.F. (2016). Procyon lotor. The
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Retrieved from:
Jaw bone. No other bones found in the direct area.
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Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon (P. lotor), is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and less well known. Genetic studies have shown that the closest relatives of raccoons are the ring-tailed cats and cacomistles of genus Bassariscus, from which they diverged...