Common Raccoon

Procyon lotor

Summary 3

The raccoon (i/ræˈkuːn/, Procyon lotor), sometimes spelled racoon, also known as the common raccoon,North American raccoon,northern raccoon and colloquially as coon, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in) and a body weight of 3.5 to 9 kg (8 to 20 lb). Its grayish coat mostly consists of dense underfur which insulates against cold weather.
The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where some homeowners consider them to be pests. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across the European mainland, the Caucasus region and Japan.

Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders. Home range sizes vary anywhere from 3 hectares (7 acres) for females in cities to 50 km2 (20 sq mi) for males in prairies. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young, known as "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 is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas, hunting and vehicular injury are the two most common causes of death.

The most important sense for the raccoon is its sense of touch.[55] The "hyper sensitive"[56] front paws are protected by a thin horny layer which becomes pliable when wet.[57] The five digits of the paws have no webbing between them, which is unusual for a carnivoran.[58] Almost two-thirds of the area responsible for sensory perception in the raccoon's cerebral cortex is specialized for the interpretation of tactile impulses, more than in any other studied animal.[59] They are able to identify objects before touching them with vibrissae located above their sharp, nonretractable claws.[60] The raccoon's paws lack an opposable thumb and thus it does not have the agility of the hands of primates.[61] There is no observed negative effect on tactile perception when a raccoon stands in water below 10 °C (50 °F) for hours.[62]

Raccoons are thought to be color blind or at least poorly able to distinguish color, though their eyes are well-adapted for sensing green light.[63] Although their accommodation of 11 dioptre is comparable to that of humans and they see well in twilight because of the tapetum lucidum behind the retina, visual perception is of subordinate importance to raccoons because of their poor long-distance vision.[64] In addition to being useful for orientation in the dark, their sense of smell is important for intraspecific communication. Glandular secretions (usually from their anal glands), urine and feces are used for marking.[65] With their broad auditory range, they can perceive tones up to 50–85 kHz as well as quiet noises like those produced by earthworms underground.[66]

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Josh More, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), http://www.flickr.com/photos/41837219@N00/2729562910
  2. (c) Randolph Femmer, all rights reserved, uploaded by nataliemarisa, http://www.wildlifeofct.com/common%20raccoon.html
  3. Adapted by nataliemarisa from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procyon_lotor

More Info

iNat Map

Taxa mammal
Endangered status least concern