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. Two of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous...

Associated plant communities 4

More info for the terms: hardwood, mesic

Throughout their range northern raccoons are found in almost any plant community
where water is available. They are most abundant in hardwood swamps,
mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), floodplain forests, and fresh- and
saltwater marshes. They are also common in mesic hardwood stands, in
cultivated and abandoned farmlands, and in suburban residential areas
[6,26,30]. In the prairie provinces of Canada, northern raccoons are commonly
found in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) parklands [2]. They are
relatively scarce in dry upland woodlands, especially where pines are
mixed with hardwoods, and few are found in southern pine forests [6].

Common names 5

northern raccoon
common raccoon
coon

Cover requirements 6

Winter dens - The most commonly used winter dens are in hollow trees.
Tree dens may be in any hollow limb or trunk of sufficient size. Den
cavities examined by Stuewer [35] averaged 11 by 14 inches (29 by 36
cm), and were mostly from 10 to 39 feet (3-12 m) above the ground.
Well-insulated winter den sites may be especially important to northern raccoon
survival in the northern part of their range [11].

Ground burrows dug by common gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), red
fox (Vulpes vulpes), woodchuck (Marmota monax), striped skunk (Mephitis
mephitis), and American badger (Taxidea taxus) are also used, especially
in areas where hollow trees are scarce. Other winter den sites are in
rock crevices and caves, abandoned buildings, brush piles, and on the
ground in swamps under clumps of cedar (Thuja spp.). Common muskrat
(Ondatra zibethicus) houses are used occasionally in marshes where
hollow trees are scarce [6,26,30].

Natal dens - A pregnant female chooses a new den in which to have her
litter. In many areas, hollow trees are the most popular choice.
Underground burrows are also used. Litters may also be raised in rock
crevices, caves and abandoned mine shafts, brush and slash piles,
sawdust piles, common muskrat lodges, wood duck (Aix sponsa) boxes, and
magpie (Pica spp.) nests [6].

All dens are generally located 220 to 460 feet (67-140 m) from water [6].

Daytime rest sites - In marshes, swamps, and open fields the most common
resting site is on the ground in herbaceous vegetation. Usually no nest
is prepared, but in saltmarshes northern raccoons build flat platforms of
cordgrass (Spartina spp.) and rush (Juncus spp.) as much as 1 mile (1.6
km) from dry land. Northern raccoons also rest during the day on bare tree
limbs, mashed-down eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) nests,
and in clumps of Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) [6,21]. Northern raccoons
may change daytime rest sites daily [6].

Description 7

"Raccoons are among the most adaptable of the Carnivora, able to live comfortably in cities and suburbs as well as rural and wilderness areas. They use small home ranges, as small as 1—3 square km, and show flexibility in selecting denning sites, from tree hollows to chimneys to sewers. A varied diet is at the root of their adaptability. Raccoons eat just about anything, finding food on the ground, in trees, streams, ponds, and other wet environments, and from unsecured trash cans, which they open adroitly by hand. They can live anywhere water is available, from the deep tropics well into southern Canada. Even in the suburbs, Raccoons can occur at densities of almost 70 per square km. Females can breed when they are not yet a year old, and typically have litters of four young, which they raise themselves. The female nurses her cubs for about 70 days. The cubs' eyes open at 18—24 days and they begin exploring the world outside the den when they are 9—10 weeks old. By 20 weeks of age they can forage on their own."

Adaptation: As an adaptation to an omnivorous diet, the molars of the Northern Raccoon, Procyon lotor, have lost their flesh-eating crests and have evolved a blunt-cusped crow, which is more efficient in crushing and grinding tough foodstuffs.

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Distribution 8

Northern raccoons occur across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia,
throughout the conterminous United States except for portions of the
northern Rocky Mountains and Great Basin, and south throughout Mexico
and Central America. Prior to 1950 northern raccoons apparently were absent from
western Wyoming and western Montana. In recent years they have become
common in parts of western Montana but have been seen only rarely in
western Wyoming [6,26,30]. The current distribution of subspecies was
not described in the literature.

Food habits 9

Northern raccoons are omnivorous. They eat carrion, garbage, birds, mammals,
insects, crayfish (Cambarus spp., Astacus spp.), mussels, other
invertebrates, a wide variety of grains and other fruits, and other
plant materials. They are selective when food is abundant but eat
whatever is available when food is scarce [6,26,30].

Wild cherries (Prunus spp.), apples (Malus spp.), persimmons (Diospyros
spp.), and grapes (Vitis spp.) and other berries of all kinds are eaten
whenever they are available. Cultivated fruits such as peaches (P.
persica), plums (P. augustifolia), figs (Ficus carica), citrus fruits
(Citrus spp.), and watermelons (Citrullus vulgaris) are taken on
occasion. Nuts, especially acorns, are important seasonal foods.
American beech (Fagus grandifolia), hickory (Carya spp.), and pecan
(Carya illinoensis) nuts, and walnut (Juglans spp.) fruits are also
eaten. Corn is the most important item in the diet in some areas
[6,26,30].

The most important animal food is crayfish. Insects, especially
grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and true bugs, are also commonly
eaten. Among mammals, rodents are the most commonly eaten, including
gophers (Geomyidae), ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.), and tree
squirrels (Sciuridae). Young common muskrat are sometimes eaten in the
spring, while adults may be taken from traps or as carrion. Cottontails
(Sylvilagus spp.) and other rabbits (Leporidae), shrews (Soricidae), and
moles (Talpidae) are also commonly eaten. Even jackrabbits (Lepus
spp.), small northern raccoons, and mink (Mustela vison) are occasionally eaten.
Garbage is a common element of the diet of northern raccoons around farms and
towns [6].

Northern raccoons sometimes eat passerine birds (Passeriformes), woodpeckers
(Picidae), ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), and northern
bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Occasionally they also take ducks
(Antidae) and American coots (Fulica americana). Waterfowl are most
often taken as cripples or carrion during the hunting season. Northern raccoons
also eat bird eggs, including those of ring-necked pheasant, northern
bobwhite, wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), ducks, and shorebirds
(Charadriiformes) [6,15].

Turtles and especially their eggs are eaten in some areas. Fishes are
often taken in small numbers, and may temporarily become important food
items when they are easily caught in drying pools [6].

Despite the great variety of foods eaten, northern raccoons tend to follow a
general pattern of seasonal diet changes. Only in the spring do most
northern raccoons eat more animal than plant food. Crayfish are the most
important food at this time, followed by insects and small vertebrates.
Acorns are also an important food early in the spring before other foods
are available [6].

During the summer northern raccoons in most habitats primarily eat fruits. The
most important animal foods are crayfish, followed by insects and small
vertebrates [6,33]. In the fall plants, especially fruits, continue to
be more important than animals in the northern raccoon diet. Acorns become the
most important food in the winter [6].

Geographic range 10

Raccoons are native to both the Neotropical and Nearctic regions. They have also been introduced to the Palearctic region. They are found across southern Canada, throughout most of the United States, and into northern South America. They have been introduced to parts of Asia and Europe and are now widely distributed there as well.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Introduced ); neotropical (Native )

Habitat related fire effects 11

More info for the terms: cover, density, fire severity, marsh, severity, shrubs

Fire that creates a mosaic of burned and unburned areas is probably the
most beneficial to northern raccoons. Lynch [27] reported that in Gulf Coast
marshes, northern raccoons were favored by "spotty cover burns" (burning the area
when there is from 3 to 5 inches [8-13 cm] of standing water present).
The unburned marsh vegetation provided cover for northern raccoons. Longhurst's
[25] observations at the Hopland Field Station in California showed that
populations of northern raccoons increased in young to intermediate chaparral and
grassland-chaparral interspersion. Populations showed a downward trend
in both mature chaparral and extensive grasslands.

Periodic fire may also help to maintain northern raccoon food. Insects and the
fruit of various plants are important in the diet of northern raccoons.
Populations of insects may increase or decrease as a result of fire
depending on fire severity, habitat, and number of years after fire.
Effects of late winter controlled burning in broom sedge (Carex
scoparia) habitat on arthropod density and biomass were studied by Hurst
[20]. Results of summer sampling revealed that burning increased both
density and biomass of most insect orders. The apparent cause of the
increases was an increased insect food supply in the form of succulent
plant growth following burning in 4- to 5 -year-old broom sedge habitat.

Oaks, persimmons, plums, cherries, and grapes can be severely reduced by
fire in the short term. However, except for grapes, these woody species
require openings for establishment. Edges of burns along forested areas
may be common regeneration sites for many of these plants. Many
fruiting shrubs such as blackberries (Rubus spp.), blueberries
(Vaccinium spp.), and huckleberries (Vaccinium ssp., Gaylussacia spp.)
do not fruit the year of burning but produce the most fruit 2 to 4 years
after fire pruning [19,24].

Known predators 12

Procyon lotor is prey of:
Squamata
Strigiformes
Accipitridae
Canis lupus
Canis latrans

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.

Known prey organisms 13

Procyon lotor preys on:
Lepomis macrochirus
Bufo americanus
Pseudacris triseriata
Ambystoma annulatum
Plethodon cinereus
Chelydra serpentina
Chrysemys picta
Trachemys scripta
Eumeces fasciatus
Storeria occipitomaculata
Thamnophis sirtalis
Thamnophis butleri
Lampropeltis triangulum
Podilymbus podiceps
Butorides virescens
Egretta thula
Egretta tricolor
Mycteria americana
Anas fulvigula
Anas strepera
Anas acuta
Anas cyanoptera
Aix sponsa
Aythya americana
Pandion haliaetus
Gallinula chloropus
Fulica americana
Larus californicus
Zenaida asiatica
Columbina inca
Otus asio
Otus trichopsis
Strix varia
Ceryle alcyon
Colaptes auratus
Dendroica petechia
Wilsonia citrina
Agelaius phoeniceus
Carpodacus mexicanus
Passer domesticus
Corvus caurinus
Catharus guttatus
Neurotrichus gibbsii
Eptesicus fuscus
Nycticeius humeralis
Glaucomys volans
Dipodomys compactus
Ondatra zibethicus
Arborimus longicaudus
Zapus princeps
Alligator mississippiensis
Ardea alba
Eremophila alpestris
Ictinia mississippiensis
Otus kennicottii
Plecotus rafinesquii

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing 14

Maximum longevity: 21 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild these animals rarely live more than 5 years (Ronald Nowak 1999). One wild born specimen was about 21 years old when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).

Management considerations 15

More info for the terms: mast, natural

Habitat management - To enhance and maintain habitat quality for
northern raccoons, managers should protect small woodlands in agricultural areas
from severe fire, harvest, and grazing. Wild fruits should be
encouraged, and mast producing trees (especially oaks and American
beech) should be preserved. Streams, swamps, marshes, and beaver
(Castor canadensis) colonies should be protected from destruction and
pollution, and ponds and marshes should be constructed near woodlands.
Den trees and potential den trees should be given special protection.
Stuewer [35] recommended leaving at least one, preferably two den trees
per 15 to 20 acres (6-8 ha) and within 0.25 mile (0.4 km) of a permanent
water supply. Where natural dens are scarce, artificial den boxes
should be set up in woodlands near water [6]. Information regarding
artificial dens for northern raccoons is available in Stuewer [36].

Wilson [41] discussed the following recommendations for improving
woodland areas for northern raccoons in North Carolina: (1) cut no hollow trees
during logging; (2) install artificial dens if den trees are lacking;
(3) manage woodlands for oaks, persimmons, and grapes (including
planting fencerows and field borders with persimmons and grapes); and
(4) keep livestock out of the woods.

Northern raccoons have been used as indicator species for monitoring of
environmental zoonosis (a disease communicable from lower animals to
humans under natural conditions) and pollutants. In Florida northern raccoon
serum is routinely examined for evidence of St. Louis encephalitis,
Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and eastern equine encephalomyelitis
[6].

The literature on northern raccoon parasites and diseases is voluminous. The
only diseases likely to have a significant impact on northern raccoon populations
are canine distemper and rabies [22]. Distemper is widespread in
northern raccoon populations. Although rabies is common in northern raccoon populations,
it does not appear to spread readily from northern raccoons to other species.
Rabid northern raccoons are often passive and unaggressive. Northern raccoons carry at
least 13 pathogens known to cause disease in humans [6]. Extensive
bibliographies on parasites and diseases of northern raccoons are available in
Halloran [17] and Sanderson and others [31].

Northern raccoons are one of the most frequent nuisance animals reported by
wildlife agencies in urban and suburban areas of the United States [8].
Northern raccoons sometimes cause agricultural damage in orchards, vineyards,
melon patches, corn fields, peanut fields, and chicken yards. They are
sometimes regarded as serious threats to nesting waterfowl. In many
cases, however, northern raccoon damage to crops and game species is
inconsequential, temporary, or very local and often caused by only one
or a few individuals [6].

Human activities - Hunting, trapping, and automobile road kills are
believed to be the main cause of mortality in many parts of the
northern raccoon's range [30].

Moist pacific coast mangroves habitat 16

This taxon occurs in the Moist Pacific Coast mangroves, an ecoregion along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica with a considerable number of embayments that provide shelter from wind and waves, thus favouring mangrove establishment. Tidal fluctuations also directly influence the mangrove ecosystem health in this zone. The Moist Pacific Coast mangroves ecoregion has a mean tidal amplitude of three and one half metres,

Many of the streams and rivers, which help create this mangrove ecoregion, flow down from the Talamanca Mountain Range. Because of the resulting high mountain sediment loading, coral reefs are sparse along the Pacific coastal zone of Central America, and thus reef zones are chiefly found offshore near islands. In this region, coral reefs are associated with the mangroves at the Isla del Caño Biological Reserve, seventeen kilometres from the mainland coast near the Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Reserve. The Térraba-Sierpe, found at the mouths of the Térraba and Sierpe Rivers, is considered a wetland of international importance.

Because of high moisture availability, the salinity gradient is more moderate than in the more northern ecoregion such as the Southern dry Pacific Coast ecoregion. Resulting mangrove vegetation is mixed with that of marshland species such as Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis), Campnosperma panamensis, Guinea Bactris (Bactris guineensis), and is adjacent to Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera) swamp forest, which provides shelter for White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta palliata). Mangrove tree and shrub taxa include Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Mangle Caballero (R. harrisonii) R. racemosa (up to 45 metres in canopy height), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and Mangle Salado (A. bicolor), a mangrove tree restricted to the Pacific coastline of Mesoamerica.

Two endemic birds listed by IUCN as threatened in conservation status are found in the mangroves of this ecoregion, one being the Mangrove Hummingbird (Amazilia boucardi EN), whose favourite flower is the Tea Mangrove (Pelliciera rhizophorae), the sole mangrove plant pollinated by a vertebrate. Another endemic avain species to the ecoregion is the  Yellow-billed Cotinga (Carpodectes antoniae EN).  Other birds clearly associated with the mangrove habitat include Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Gray-necked Wood Rail (Aramides cajanea), Rufous-necked Wood Rail (A. axillaris), Mangrove Black-hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis),Striated Heron (Butorides striata), Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona), Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor), Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia), and Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus VU) among other avian taxa.

Mammals although not as numerous as birds, include species such as the Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), White-throated Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), Central American Otter (Lontra longicaudis annectens), White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), feeds on leaves within A. bicolor and L. racemosa forests. Two raccoons: Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) and Crab-eating Raccoon (P. cancrivorus) can be found, both on the ground and in the canopy consuming crabs and mollusks. The Mexican Collared Anteater (Tamandua mexicana) is also found in the Moist Pacific Coast mangroves.

There are a number of amphibians in the ecoregion, including the anuran taxa: Almirante Robber Frog (Craugastor talamancae); Chiriqui Glass Frog (Cochranella pulverata); Forrer's Grass Frog (Lithobates forreri), who is found along the Pacific versant, and is at the southern limit of its range in this ecoregion. Example salamanders found in the ecoregion are the Colombian Worm Salamander (Oedipina parvipes) and the Gamboa Worm Salamander (Oedipina complex), a lowland organism that is found in the northern end of its range in the ecoregion. Reptiles including the Common Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor), American Crocodile (Crocodilus acutus), Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) and Common Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) thrive in this mangrove ecoregion.

Predators 17

Northern raccoon predators include mountain lions (Felis concolor), bobcats (Lynx
rufus), gray wolves (Canis lupus), red foxes, coyotes (C. latrans),
fishers (Martes pennanti), and owls (Strigiformes) [26]. Humans hunt
and trap northern raccoons [6].

Preferred habitat 18

More info for the term: hardwood

Northern raccoons are most abundant near water, especially in bottomland forests
along streams, hardwood swamps, flooded areas around reservoirs,
marshes, and mangrove swamps. Populations are low in southern pine
forests, deserts, and mountains above 6,560 feet (2,000 m). Northern raccoons
tend to avoid large open fields; where they have moved onto the prairies
of the northern United States and southern Canada they favor buildings,
woodlots, and wetlands [6]. A mosaic of small open areas and forested
areas with numerous den trees along streams usually sustains the highest
population densities of northern raccoons [30].

Home range - There is great variation in the home range sizes reported
for northern raccoons. Most of the home range diameters fall between 0.6 and 1.9
miles (1-3 km); the maximum reported was 4 miles (6.4 km) [4,6,35].
Adult males generally have larger home ranges than adult females, and
may temporarily expand their ranges to visit several females during the
mating period. Females greatly restrict their movements during the
first few weeks after their litters are born, and juveniles occupy their
mother's home range for at least the first few months after leaving the
den. Home ranges of males and females as well as ranges of northern raccoons of
the same sex tend to overlap broadly [6].

Puget lowland forests habitat 19

Cope's giant salamander is found in the Puget lowland forests along with several other western North America ecoregions. The Puget lowland forests occupy a north-south topographic depression between the Olympic Peninsula and western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, extending from north of the Canadian border to the lower Columbia River along the Oregon border. The portion of this forest ecoregion within British Columbia includes the Fraser Valley lowlands, the coastal lowlands locally known as the Sunshine Coast and several of the Gulf Islands. This ecoregion is within the Nearctic Realm and classified as part of the Temperate Coniferous Forests biome.

The Puget lowland forests have a Mediterranean-like climate, with warm, dry summers, and mild wet winters. The mean annual temperature is 9°C, the mean summer temperature is 15°C, and the mean winter temperature is 3.5°C. Annual precipitation averages 800 to 900 millimeters (mm) but may be as great as 1530 mm. Only a small percentage of this precipitation falls as snow. However, annual rainfall  on the San Juan Islands can be as low as 460 mm, due to rain-shadow effects caused by the Olympic Mountains. This local rain shadow effect results in some of the driest sites encountered in the region. Varied topography on these hilly islands results in a diverse assemblage of plant communities arranged along orographically defiined moisture gradients. Open grasslands with widely scattered trees dominate the exposed southern aspects of the islands, while moister dense forests occur on northern sheltered slopes characterized by Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), Grand fir (Abies grandis), and Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) communities.

There are only a small number of amphibian taxa in the Puget lowland forests, namely: Cope's giant salamander (Dicamptodon copei); Monterey ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii); Long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum); Western redback salamander (Plethodon vehiculum); Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile); Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla); Coastal giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus); Rough-skin newt (Taricha granulosa);  the Vulnerable Spotted frog (Rana pretiosa); Tailed frog (Ascopus truei); and Northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora).

Likewise there are a small number of reptilian taxa within the ecoregion: Common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis); Western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis); Northern alligator lizard (Elgaria coerulea); Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis); Northwestern garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides); Sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis); Yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor); and Western pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata).

There are numberous mammalian taxa present in the Puget lowland forests. A small sample of these are:Creeping vole (Microtus oregoni), Raccoon (Procyon lotor), Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris), Mink (Mustela vison), Coyote (Canis latrans), Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus), and Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina).

A rich assortment of bird species present in this ecoregion, including the Near Threatened Spotted owl (Strix occidentalis), Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura), Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus), as well as a gamut of seabirds, numerous shorebirds and waterfowl.

Range description 20

Originally a North and Central American species, occurring from the Canadian prairies southwards across the United States (except for parts of the Rocky Mountains and the deserts) to Panama. Introductions since the 1930s of animals into Germany the Russian Federation, and many subsequent escapes by farmed animals across Europe, have resulted in expanding European and Central Asian populations of this species (Mitchell-Jones et al., 1999). Individuals have also been recorded from Denmark, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Regional distribution in the western united states 21

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

Rio negro rio san sun mangroves habitat 22

This taxon occurs in the Rio Negro-Rio San Sun mangroves, which consists of a disjunctive coastal ecoregion in parts of Costa Rica, extending to the north slightly into Nicaragua and south marginally into Panama. Furthermore, this species is not necessarily restricted to this ecoregion. Mangroves are sparse in this ecoregion, and are chiefly found in estuarine lagoons and small patches at river mouths growing in association with certain freshwater palm species such as the Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera), which taxon has some saline soil tolerance, and is deemed a basic element of the mangrove forest here. These mangrove communities are also part of a mosaic of several habitats that include mixed rainforest, wooded swamps, coastalwetlands, estuarine lagoons, sand backshores and beaches, sea-grasses, and coral reefs.

The paucity of mangroves here is a result of the robust influx of freshwater to the coastline ocean zone of this ecoregion. Among the highest rates of rainfall in the world, this ecoregion receives over six metres (m) a year at the Nicaragua/ Costa Rica national border. Peak rainfall occurs in the warmest months, usually between May and September. A relatively dry season occurs from January to April, which months coincides with stronger tradewinds. Tides are semi-diurnal and have a range of less than one half metre.

Mangroves play an important role in trapping sediments from land that are detrimental to the development of both coral reefs and sea grasses that are associated with them. Mangrove species including Rhizopora mangle, Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa, Conocarpus erecta and R. harrisonii grow alone the salinity gradient in appropriate areas. Uncommon occurrences of Pelliciera rhizophorae and other plant species associated with mangroves include Leather fernsAcrostichum spp., which also invade cut-over mangrove stands and provide some protection against erosion. In this particular ecoregion, the mangroves are associated with the indicator species, freshwater palm, Raphia taedigera. Other mangrove associated species are Guiana-chestnut ( Pachira aquatica) and Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis).

Reptiles include the Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). The beaches along the coast within this ecoregion near Tortuguero are some of the most important for nesting green turtles. The offshore seagrass beds, which are among the most extensive in the world, are a source of food and refuge for the endangered Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Several species of frogs  of the family Dendrobatidae are found in this mangrove ecoregion as well other anuran species and some endemic salamander taxa.

Mammal species found in this highly diverse ecoregion include: Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), primates such as Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), Geoffrey's Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), White-faced Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), Brown-throated Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) and Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus).  Also found in this ecoregion are carnivores such as Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis),  Central American Otter (Lutra annectens), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Northern Racooon (Procyoon lotor), and Crab-eating Racoon (P. cancrivorus).

Size in north america 23

Sexual Dimorphism: Males are 10%-30% larger than females.

Length:
Range: 603-950 mm

Weight:
Range: 1.8-10.4 kg

Taxonomy 24

The currently accepted scientific name for the northern raccoon is Procyon lotor
(Linnaeus) [16]. It is a member of the Family Procyonidae [16,30].
North America subspecies of northern raccoon are listed below:

P. l. auspicatus Nelson (Key Vaca raccoon)
P. l. crassidens Hollister
P. l. dickeyi Nelson and Goldman
P. l. elucus Bangs
P. l. fuscipes Mearns
P. l. grinnelli Nelson and Goldman
P. l. hernandezii Wagler
P. l. hirtus Nelson and Goldman
P. l. inesperatus Nelson
P. l. incautus Nelson (Key West raccoon)
P. l. litoreus Nelson and Goldman
P. l. lotor (Linneus)
P. l. marinus Nelson
P. l. maynardi Bangs
P. l. megalodous Lowery
P. l. mexicanus Baird
P. l. pacificus Merriam
P. l. pallidus Merriam
P. l. psora Gray
P. l. pumilus Miller
P. l. shufeldti Nelson and Goldman
P. l. simus Gidley
P. l. solutus Nelson and Goldman
P. l. vancouverensis Nelson and Goldman
P. l. varius Nelson and Goldman

Timing of major life history events 25

More info for the terms: cover, litter, polygamous

Breeding season - Northern raccoons are polygamous. Throughout most of their
range northern raccoons mate from January to March, with a peak in February. In
the extreme southeastern United States mating typically occurs later
than it does farther north and continues later into the summer. In
South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana most northern raccoons mate in March. In
Alabama mating occurs from March to June or later, with the peak in
April. Adult females that fail to become pregnant during their first
estrus in the spring may breed again 2 to 4 months later [6]. Northern raccoons
may breed in their first year or not until their second year [26].
Yearling females that fail to conceive during their first cycle probably
do not breed until the next year [6].

Gestation and litter size - Gestation usually lasts from 63 to 65 days,
with reported extremes of 54 and 70 days. Litters of one to eight have
been reported, with mean litter sizes ranging from two to five.
Generally only one litter is produced per year [6,26,30].

Development of young - Northern raccoons begin walking 4 to 6 weeks after birth,
and can generally walk, run, and climb when they are 7 weeks old.
Weaning begins when the young leave the den and begin to forage for
themselves. Most are weaned by the time they are 16 weeks old, but some
may continue to nurse occasionally for several months more. Dispersal
of young from their natal den generally occurs in the year following
their birth; however, some litters may disperse the fall of their first
year [6].

Social organization - Except for females and young, which tend to move
as a family group, northern raccoons are usually solitary. Several northern raccoons
often den together during extremely cold weather; however, and
individuals may feed together at a concentrated food source. Northern raccoons
pair only during the breeding season [30].

Activity - Northern raccoons are typically nocturnal. The peak of feeding
activity generally occurs before midnight. Activity rarely begins more
than 1 hour before sunset, but return to the daytime resting site is
occasionally delayed for several hours after sunrise. Where
sub-freezing temperatures and permanent snow cover prevail during the
winter in northern latitudes, northern raccoons typically sleep for several
months during the winter. Snow cover is more important than low
temperatures in initiating dormancy. Later in the winter, however, 1 to
3 days of temperatures above freezing may bring northern raccoons out to forage
even in deep snow. In the southern states northern raccoons are generally active
throughout the winter [6].

Life span - Most northern raccoons in the wild live less than 5 years. Mean life
spans of 3.1 and 1.8 years have been reported [6]. Northern raccoons in
captivity have lived as long as 13 years [2].

Use of fire in population management 26

More info for the term: mast

Areas supporting fire-sensitive mast and fruit producing hardwood
species (e.g., large oaks and persimmon) should be protected from
burning until they have established [19,24].

Uses 27

Raccoons may be a nuisance to farmers. They can cause damage to orchards, vineyards, melon patches, cornfields, peanut fields, and chicken yards. Their habit of moving on to the next ear of corn before finishing the first makes them especially damaging to fields of both sweet corn and field corn. Raccoons also carry sylvatic plague, rabies, and other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest; causes or carries domestic animal disease

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Kim A. Cabrera, all rights reserved, uploaded by Kim Cabrera, www.bear-tracker.com
  2. (c) Josh More, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), http://www.flickr.com/photos/41837219@N00/2729562910
  3. Adapted by Kim Cabrera from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procyon_lotor
  4. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645247
  5. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/23421178
  6. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645250
  7. (c) Smithsonian Institution, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://eol.org/data_objects/16146953
  8. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24258269
  9. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645251
  10. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/25066547
  11. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645253
  12. (c) SPIRE project, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://eol.org/data_objects/10543200
  13. (c) SPIRE project, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://eol.org/data_objects/10543199
  14. (c) Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://eol.org/data_objects/6705720
  15. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645252
  16. (c) World Wildlife Fund & C. Michael Hogan, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/26748176
  17. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24258279
  18. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645249
  19. (c) World Wildlife Fund & C.MIchael Hogan, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/32145361
  20. (c) International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31223653
  21. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24052234
  22. (c) World Wildlife Fund & C. Michael Hogan, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/26793806
  23. (c) Smithsonian Institution, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://eol.org/data_objects/6625434
  24. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/23421177
  25. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645248
  26. Public Domain, http://eol.org/data_objects/24645254
  27. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31417803

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