General Raccoon Facts
The raccoon is a native mammal, having a body that can reach a length of 16-28 inches and a weight of 11-57 lbs. which is typically the result of genetics, age, geographic location and available food sources. Its grayish coat consists of dense underfur which helps to insulate it against the cold in winter months. Three of its most distinctive features are its dexterous front paws, facial mask and its ringed tail. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs, which is why they have a hunched appearance. Raccoons are known for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for at least three years. They are generally nocturnal critters and feed on practically anything but most often eat fruits, fish, birds eggs and vegetables. They are, however, known to get into people’s trash cans and pet food.
A Raccoons Habitat
Originally, in the Pacific Northwest, raccoons were found in deciduous and mixed forests. Hunting and trapping restrictions, fewer predators and human supplied food have allowed for raccoons to populate in urban environments where homeowners often find them to be a pest. Mountainous areas and coastal marshes are some of the other areas you will find these critters as they prefer living close to water sources.
A Raccoons Social Life
Though previously thought to be generally solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender specific social behavior. Females that are related 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.
A Raccoons Life Span
It’s said that a raccoon in captivity has been proven to live over 20 years, but in the wild a raccoons life expectancy is only about 1.8 to 3.1 years. This is usually due to hunting and vehicular injury. When mother raccoons are pregnant, they carry their young through a gestation period of about 65 days at which point 2-5 babies or kits are then born in the spring season. The kits are raised by their mother until around late fall when the mother will then send them on their way.
Two Types of Raccoons in the Pacific Northwest
The Ringtail Raccoon
The ringtail raccoon is named for its tail which has eight dark bands that alternate between seven buffy bands. Their body and tail are almost equal in length and like the common raccoon, they have a face mask that is white but fringed with a narrow band of black. Because of their hind feet which can rotate 180 degrees, they can descend trees or rocks head first. They are strongly nocturnal but are known to be active during their reproductive season. Being avid climbers, they make use of their ability to rock climb and have adopted many climbing techniques.
The Common Raccoon
Most people in the Pacific Northwest think of the common raccoon when they think of raccoons. This raccoon is often noted for its facial features which give this critter the impression of wearing a black mask. Its striped tail consists of five to seven dark rings separated by light gray or tan rings that alternate with the black. When its on all fours, its head is lower than its backside as the front paws are shorter than its hind legs. Moderate in size and fluffy in appearance, these raccoons are often thought of as cute and normally don’t pose any danger unless provoked or threatened. More often, they are considered a nuisance or pest in comparison to other types of raccoons.