- Common Name(s): Raccoon, Northern Raccoon
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Procyonidae
- Common Species: Procyon lotor
- Commonly Confused With: N/A
How to Identify?
Raccoons have gray or black fur, usually with a lighter colored belly. Their ears are triangular in shape and topped with lighter color hair. They have black and gray rings/bands running the length of the tail. They are bald on the bottom of their feet and possess five toes, each ending in a claw. The face is lighter in color with two black circles around the eyes. This mask is one of the key features used for identifying a raccoon. Raccoons can range anywhere between 10-28 pounds depending on age, sex, time of year, and availability of food.
Where do they live?
Raccoons live outdoors in forests, wooded areas, fields, grassy areas, farmland, and even residential neighborhoods. They usually nest in tree holes or burrows in rocky outcrops but they can also be found in buildings and caves on occasion. Their nests are usually near water sources like swamps, rivers, creeks, streams, etc.
What do they eat?
These animals eat plant or animal material. They are highly adaptable and can find food in most locations. They eat foods such as berries, nuts, grains, vegetables, young animals, animal remains, trash, crayfish, insects, reptiles, and much, much more. During the fall, they may be seen eating more than normal in preparation for the winter months.
What do they do?
Raccoons become a pest when they live in close proximity to people. They can nest in attics or chimneys, mess up gardens and lawns, get into the trash or outdoor feeders, carry numerous canine and human diseases (including rabies), and they can get into farmers’ eggs and chicken coops.
There are no other animals in Georgia that have a black mask on their face and a banded tail except the raccoon. Raccoons also have a habit of washing their food. They do not always perform this behavior, but it is not uncommon to see a raccoon dunk their food before enjoying it. This may not always be in the best interest of the raccoon as seen by the events in the following link: HERE (Don’t worry, no raccoons are harmed in the video)!
- University of Georgia Museum of Natural History. (n.d.). GAWW: Species Description–Northern Raccoon. Retrieved December 21, 2018, from http://fishesofgeorgia.uga.edu/gawildlife/index.php?page=speciespages/species_page&key=plotor
- Craven, S., & Drake, D. (2012). Raccoon Ecology & Damage Management [PDF file]. Retrieved December 21, 2018, from http://wildlifedamage.uwex.edu/pdf/Raccoon.pdf
Author: G. Wyatt West–A University of Georgia Graduate of Entomology
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