Raccoons are unusual, for their thumbs (though not opposable)
enable them to open many closed containers (such as garbage cans
and doors). They are omnivores with a reputation for being
clever and mischievous; their intelligence and dexterity equip
them to survive in a wide range of environments and are one of
the few medium-to-large-sized animals that have enlarged its
range since human encroachment began (another is the coyote).
Raccoon hindfeet are plantigrade similar to a human's. Raccoons
are sometimes considered vermin or a nuisance, and are common in
campgrounds of North America, especially in the Midwest. Many
people are surprised when a creature that they usually think of
as cute or cuddly raids their campsite at night and makes odd
growls and fights viciously over scraps of food left out by
Although there is some variation depending on the species in question, raccoons range from 20-40 inches in length (including the tail) and weigh between 10 and 35 lbs. The raccoon's tail ranges from 8 to 16 inches in length. Male raccoons are generally larger than females. A baby raccoon is called a kit.
There are three species of raccoon. The most widespread is the
Common Raccoon, also known as the Northern Raccoon, which has a
natural range of Southern Canada to Southern Mexico and has been
introduced to Continental Europe. Raccoons can live in the city
or in the wild, and while they are not domesticated they are on
rare occasion kept as pets.
The two rarer species are the Tres Marias Raccoon (P. insularis), native to the Tres Marķas islands off the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and the Crab-eating Raccoon (P. cancrivorus) of tropical Central and South America.
Some raccoons once considered separate species are now thought to be the same as or subspecies of the common raccoon, including the Barbados Raccoon (P. gloveralleni), Nassau Raccoon (P. maynardi), Guadeloupe Raccoon (P. minor), and Cozumel Island Raccoon (P. pygmaeus) (Helgen and Wilson 2005).
This Raccoon Page is Copyright The Animal Web Guide © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub