17 Facts About Raccoons That Everyone Should Know

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Raccoons are adaptable and clever creatures that live in both urban and wild environments nationwide. Despite being viewed as an annoyance, they are an interesting species with very distinct characteristics. Here are 17 facts about raccoons everyone should know.

They Are Omnivorous 

Raccoons have a wide range of dietary preferences, this includes nuts, fruits, insects, small mammals, and birds in the wild.

Source: AdobeStock/Edwin Butter

It also isn’t uncommon to find a raccoon feasting on trash left out by people.

Their Unique Appearance 

As explained by A-Z Animals, their distinctive “mask functions much like a football player’s glare-reducing eye black.”

Source: Unsplash/Alan Alquist

Their black fur allows the animal to absorb light, making it easier to see in bright light and reducing the glare at night, improving their nocturnal vision. 

Love Of Water 

Despite the fact that they aren’t aquatic animals, raccoons are exceptional swimmers and can often be found living near water sources in the wild.

Source: Unsplash/Dim Hou

Water is imperative for a raccoon’s diet, giving them access to fish, snails, and worms.

Social Dynamics

Raccoons are typically solitary animals, but females will live in small communal groups, especially while raising their young.

Source: Unsplash/Maddy Weiss

Males are solitary, with larger territories that may overlap with several females, and they tend to avoid other males.

Sounds Racoons Make

Racoons actually have a pretty large vocal range, with the ability to make over 200 sounds. They can hiss whistle, scream, growl, and much more, each sound serving a specific communication purpose.

Source: Shutterstock/dangdumrong

They can also make a purring sound much like a cat, and they can bark like a dog when they are excited or stressed out. 

Their Life Cycle 

Raccoons breed in the late winter and have one litter annually. After a 60-day gestation period, they usually give birth to two to five kits in the early spring. 

Source: Unsplash/Simon Infanger

The kits are born deaf and blind and are completely dependent on their mother for the first few months.


Racoons are mostly nocturnal, with heightened senses of touch and hearing that help them  navigate and forage in the dark.

Source: Wikimedia/w:User:Bowlhover

However, according to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, they can also be active during the day. 

Predatory Hazards 

In wildlife settings racoons need to be aware of bears, owls, coyotes, wolves, snakes, and bobcats, all of which will prey on raccoons if given the opportunity.

Source: Unsplash/Chandler Cruttenden

In urban areas they need to be more concerned about human activities and cars.

Tracks Made By Raccoons 

Racoon tracks are very distinct because their front paws resemble tiny human hands.

Source: Naturetracking

Tracks are typically found near bodies of water and garbage sources.

Rabies And Raccoons 

Raccoons are notorious for being one of the main carriers of rabies in the wild of North America, making up 35% of all rabid animals.

Source: Shutterstock/Julija Ogrodowski

Sadly they typically pass away within 1 to 3 days of being infected. 

Adapted To Urban Areas  

Urban areas in North America have successfully provided raccoons with ample food sources, leading to a much larger racoon with a higher survival rate.

Source: Unsplash/Gabriel Tovar

National Geographic makes the argument that raccoons “possess many qualities suited to city life, from their nocturnal nature, which helps them avoid run-ins with people, to their wide-ranging diet.”

Their Dens

Raccoons exhibit adaptability when choosing their dens, which can be anything from a tree hollow, abandoned burrows, or even attics in more urban areas.

Source: Instagram

They also typically have more than one den at a time.

Their Behavior Throughout the Year

Raccoons don’t hibernate in the winter, but they can enter torpor, a dormancy state where they slow their metabolism and sleep in their dens.

Source: Shutterstock/Vladimir Turkenich

Torpor only lasts a few weeks, unlike hibernation. In spring and summer, rearing young takes precedence for females.

Human Interactions With Raccoons 

Racoons can be viewed as a disturbance in urban areas, they make themselves at home in human occupied houses and are known to pull down trash cans when they are searching for food.

Source: Unsplash/Quentin Bounias

Buying a lock for garbage can lids, placing heavy weights on them, and storing them in garages or sheds can help deter raccoons.

Extremely Intelligent 

According to Britannica,“raccoons are intelligent and inquisitive animals.” 

Source: Shutterstock/Pratish Halady

They are excellent problem solvers and can draw from past experiences to help them adapt to new ones. 

Managing Raccoon Populations 

According to the IUCN racoons are the least concerned species in North America.

Source: Pinterest

Urban wildlife management strategies in the U.S. include sterilization programs and habitat modification to limit their spread.

Pop Culture And Raccoons 

Raccoons have been a part of Native American mythology, and are subjects of many folk tales all over the nation.

Source: Shutterstock/Lauren Elisabeth

They are often portrayed as cunning but endearing characters, and in the past decade, Rocket Raccoon has been a prominent character in Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Athena Hallet

Written by Athena Hallet

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