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Other name(s): Common North American Raccoon; Northern Raccoon; Coon

Scientific name: Procyon lotor

The basics:
There are few creatures as entertaining and resourceful as the Raccoon, and in North America their charming babies have been adopted as pets since colonial times. Unfortunately, Raccoons invariably become dangerously aggressive as they mature, and they are also capable of infecting people with several deadly diseases. Recent population explosions enable raccoon fans to observe Raccoons even in the heart of New York City, and that is how they are best enjoyed. Folks seriously interested in close contact should seek training as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

The Raccoon’s enormous range extends from Alaska and northern Canada to northern South America. In the USA, they are absent only from portions of the Rocky Mountains and several southwestern states. Fur farm escapees and released pets have established populations in Japan, Russia, and several European countries.

This consummate survivor is at home in a habitats, including forests, brushy meadows, woodlots, swamps, coastal marshes, seashore dunes, farms, suburban yards, and the streets of Manhattan and other urban centers.

Appearance / health:
Raccoons are sometimes compared to bear cubs in build, and measure 24-40 inches in length. Their weight ranges from 12-45 pounds, with some hefty captives having topped 60 lbs. The dense fur is a grizzled salt-and-pepper in color, the tail is encircled by 5-8 black rings, and the eyes are surrounded by their classic “burglar’s mask”. A Raccoon’s hands are as dexterous as a monkey’s. White, black, cinnamon, and other strains have been produced by fur farms.

The average lifespan is 8-15 years, with some captives reaching age 20. Raccoons are common hosts of the parasitic raccoon roundworm, which when transferred to humans can cause paralysis and/or death. Strict precautions must be taken when working with raccoons. As few veterinarians treat Raccoons (ownership is prohibited in much of the USA), roundworm fecal tests may be difficult to arrange. There is no approved rabies vaccine for Raccoons.

Behavior / temperament:
Raccoons are solitary animals and, except when young, do not bond with humans. Upon maturity they become dangerously-aggressive, well able to inflict severe, permanent injuries with their razor-sharp teeth and claws. Raccoons cannot be housebroken or trained not to damage furniture and other household items.

A custom-made outdoor enclosure of at least 20x20x12 feet (L x W x H), but preferably larger, would be required to house an adult Raccoon. Stout tree trunks, branches, and platforms must be provided as climbing surfaces. A small dog-house style retreat, preferably above-ground, should be available. Raccoons can tolerate sub-zero to very warm temperatures if provided shelter from wind, rain, snow and sun.

Raccoons are consummate omnivores, with urban individuals subsisting on refuse often out-weighing their country cousins. Zoos provide canned and dry carnivore diets (similar to dog food) supplemented with pre-killed mice and chicks, whole fish, crayfish and a wide array of fruits and vegetables.

Raccoon breeding is a dangerous affair for both Raccoon and Raccoon owner, and is best left to professionals. Sexual maturity is reached by age 1-2 years. Females give birth to 1 annual litter of 1-8 kits after a gestation period of 9 weeks. The youngsters go off on their own at age 4 months or so, but in the northern portions of the range may remain with the mother over their first winter.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


intelligent, amazing animals, licensed rehabber, professional rehabilitator, exotic animals specialist


sexually mature, wild animals, Destructive Behaviors, illness, digestive problems, bite, proper enclosure


deadly parasite, rabies vaccine

Helpful Raccoon Review


From michele609 Sep 29 2015 10:31AM


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