Raccoons typically have greyish-brown fur on top and light gray fur underneath. The tail has 5 -7 complete dark rings, alternating with broader brown or gray rings. One hypothesis for the dark fur that covers its eyes is that it may help reduce glare and enhance the nocturnal animal’s night vision. Because its hind legs are longer than the front legs, they often appear hunched when they walk or run.
Common predators they may encounter include coyotes, wolves, hawks, and owls.
In the wild, they will live an average of 2-3 years, but in human care they have been known to live up to 20 years.
Females are more monogamous, while males tend to be polygamous and don’t help raise their young. Their gestation period is approximately 63 days and litter size will be 1-7 kits. Kits are 3-5 oz at birth, have little fur, no teeth, and their eyes are closed.
- Their front paws are incredibly dexterous and contain roughly four times more sensory receptors than their back paws. This allows them to differentiate between objects without seeing them, which is crucial when feeding at night.
- Raccoons are not very social and are typically solitary. Females will raise their young, but once the kits reach 10 months old they are ready to leave mom
Raccoons are often seen as pests since they will go through your garbage, get close to humans, and sometimes scavenge throughout the day.
The common misconception with raccoons is that they have rabies if seen during the day and will attack you if you are near which is actually not true. Raccoons will flee a situation if they feel scared as long as they have an exit. So please keep your distance from them to allow them that opportunity to flee. Also just because you see a raccoon during the day, does not necessarily mean they have rabies, are sick or dangerous. Raccoons are opportunistic so they may be looking for food to support young, taking advantage of a garden while the dogs are inside, or trying to move to a new location to call home.
Ways to co-exist safely with raccoons are to keep your outside trash lids secure and keep trash inside your car while driving. Often time’s raccoons are killed when trying to eat such things as banana peels or apple cores on the side of the road and often get hit by cars. No matter where you are, always “Leave No Trace.”