When I came home tonight, my friends decided to be funny, and drop me off on the road. I live on a pretty busy road, so this is not very funny. However, since it was night, not too many cars were driving by.

Anyway, as I walked up the driveway, I heard an animal noise. Since my yard is very wooded, this is nothing new. However, on this particular night, this animal had no intention of moving out of my way to allow me to get into my house. This raccoon, who was pretty big and very furry and bushy, was probably as scared as I was, and didn't know what to do either. So he/she just sat there, in the middle of my walkway. Now, I am not the bravest person, and being stopped by a raccoon is not my idea of fun. Since I am sure not anyone with any sense of bravery, this is no large feat. But, apparently, I have not met with the Wizard of Oz yet; thus, I lack all courage with such things. So, I stood there, waiting for this creature to move. All the while, it sat there, waiting for me to move. It was a true face off of nature and man, or woman in my case.

So, after what seemed like forever, this monsterous raccoon who looked like he could eat me for dinner moved.... two feet. It went towards my door, not quite getting the picture that that is where I needed to be. As my patience began to run out, and my fear-factor began to increase, I plotted as to what exactly I could do.

I could run around the house; but then, Fear stepped in, making me wonder if the rest of his friends were waiting for some dinner as well. I could slowly back up, hoping he would carry on with his other "dinnerly" plans; but then, Impatience stepped in, recognizing the fact that it was already evident that Mr. Raccoon had no intention of hurry for the likes of me. So, Reality jumped in, alerting me that this was silly. I took one step forward. Mr. Raccoon took a couple swaggers to my left. Progress finally. I took another step. So did he. Finally, the walkway was clear from the beast, and I ran the rest of the way like a true girl!!!

As I grabbed for the doorknob, I realized it was locked. As I rang the bell to attempt to wake up my parents, Mr. Raccoon made his way around the bushes, and came up on the side of our porch. He was a sneaky little creature, who seemed intent on finding dinner. After what seemed like years, and several little raccoon scampers closer, my mom finally rescued me from the wrath of this nocturnal animal. I was safe inside, escaping a night of dinner from Mr. Raccoon and the rest of his eagerly awaiting family. Whew!

The raccoon, Procyon lotor, is native to North and Central America. They're omnivorous, eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and invertebrates. Their five-toed front paws look a lot like human hands and allow them to clasp food items; those in captivity often dip food items in water before eating them, but this is rarely observed in the wild.

Raccoons are nocturnal and fairly intelligent; those who live in human-populated areas do things like getting into trash cans by opening the lids. They are generally brownish to gray with a "mask" of black fur on their eyes and black rings around their bushy tail, and weigh six to seven kilograms. They climb well, and swim when forced to (but they prefer to avoid this because their fur is not waterproof). They prefer to live in woodland near water but are pretty adaptable. Humans are nearly their only remaining predator.

And you thought only felines purred! Poor, jaded person that you are - let it be known to you that raccoons too purr.

Yes, these cute food-washing creatures exhibit a purring means of communication. It differs from cat purring in that racoon purring is more acoustic than tactile. Cat purring functions mainly in a vibrational way - you can feel a cut purr as it presses against you, and kittens purr against their mothers. A raccoon purr is more involved with sound than vibration.

Another difference is that a raccoon's purr is audible only on exhaling, wheras a cat can purr continously.

Baby raccoons tend to purr more, and the purring's association with contentment might arise form the fact that raccoon babies tend to purr a lot when suckling, and this association may linger till adulthood, when raccoons will purr right after meals.

Many digital .wav files of raccoon purring can be found around the net. However they may be misleading in that they might sound a little like growls, whereas one would never confuse a gentle racoon purr with a growl in real life.

Kingdom:  Animalia 
 Phylum:  Chordata 
  Class:  Mammalia 
  Order:  Carnivora 
 Family:  Procyonidae 
  Genus:  Procyon 
Species:  Loctor, Insularis, and Cancrivorus
And now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
only to find Gideons Bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky's revival
Ah, oh yeah, yeah
Da, da, da, da
Rocky Raccoon - The Beatles

Raccoons are a smallish, intelligent nocturnal, omnivorous mammal, native to North and Central America. They have also been introduced into central Europe, especially Germany, having been initially introduced there by Luftwaffe general Hermann Goering. While there are three species of Procyon, Insularis lives only in the Caribbean, and Cancrivorus to the tropics. I shall be focusing on Loctor, the common raccoon. They range in colour from grey to reddish brown. They have rather distinctive black markings outlined in white upon their face, around their eyes and the nose, which really resembles a mask. As well, they have black "rings" upon their tails.

Their name comes from the Algonquin word arakun, which translates to "he scratches with his hand." The Latin name Procyon Loctor translates to Washing Pre-dog. Both of these refer to the raccoon's habit of "washing" food in water before they eat it. What they're really doing is softening up the edible parts of their food, making it easier for the raccoon to discard the inedible bits.


The naturally range from Panama, up to southern Canada, with the exception of the Rocky Mountains. They are one of the wild animals best able to adapt to life in urban areas. Their paws are quite nimble, allowing them to get into stuff like garbage, and sometimes allowing them to open doors. Many times they are considered quite the pest.

As adults, they measure between 20 to 40 inches in length, with a tail of 8 to 16 inches, and weigh between 10 to 35 pounds. Then generally only reach the upper end of the scale around fall, when they gain a lot of fat, in preparation for the winter. During this time, while they do not hibernate, they can sleep for up to a month at a time, although usually it's only a few days at a time. During warm spells, they will usually be active, venturing forth from whatever hollowed log, cave, or burrow they're living in at the time. During summer days, they'll sleep more in the open, under a pile of leaves, or on a log, or something like that.

As omnivores, they eat pretty much anything. Eggs, corn, grapes, nuts, rodents, cherries, fish, frogs, turtles. The list goes on. And as many of you may well know, they can get into humans garbage.


While they are solitary animals, they are not particularly territorial. When two raccoons meet, they'll generally growl at each other, but very rarely will they actually get into a fight. The size of their home range depends greatly upon ready availability of food, from as low as 0.1 km2 in urban areas, up to 50 km2 in the prairies. They prefer areas such as marshes, forests, and farmland.

Mating generally takes place between January and March, with a gestation period of a little over two months. The females are monogamous, only mating with one male per season. The males however, will stick around with a female for a couple weeks, and then move on to find himself a new woman. Litters average around 4 to 5. The mother will care for the young, carrying them around by the scruff of the neck, much like is done with kittens. They will generally be taught everything needed to survive by their mother by the time Autumn rolls around, and will definitely be pushed out by their mother by the next spring, when she's expecting a new litter.

In the wild, they live an average of 3 to 5 years, although exceptional cases of up to 16 years have been reported.

Now a days, their main predator is human beings. Shocking, eh? They both become roadkill as they scamper across roads, and and hunted, for food, for their pelts, or just for fun.

Without humans in the equation, they do fall prey to animals such as mountain lions, coyotes, and owls. This is a fairly small percentage of raccoon mortality, with a much larger number falling prey to starvation and disease, especially during their first year.


While there are some places where it is legal to keep raccoons as pets, they are not really domesticated. In captivity, they are susceptible to a variety of health problems, from disease, to obesity. Veterinarians tend not to be trained to treat raccoons, and it is very hard to find one who is willing to. And of course, they make a mess. Not only are they messy with their food, but they are very curious, which means they have a strong tendency to climb on things, and crawl or scratch their way into things, causing a deal of damage as they progress. As well, many of them tend to "revert" as they get older, becoming violent towards humans. So yeah, don't get one. Even if they are cute.


Sources:
Canadian Wildlife Service & Canadian Wildlife Federation. "Raccoon," Hinterland Who's Who. 2006. <www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?id=101> (July 1, 2006).
University of Alberta Museum of Zoology. "The Raccoon at the UAMZ," University of Alberta Museum of Zoology. 2001. <www2.biology.ualberta.ca/uamz.hp/coon.html> (July 1, 2006).
Joe McDonald. "Common Raccoon," eNature: America's Wildlife Resource. 2001. <www.enature.com/flashcard/show_flash_card.asp?recordNumber=MA0029> (July 1, 2006).
Interactive Broadcasting Corporation. "Raccoon - The Raccoons of British Columbia, Canada. Raccoons in BC," British Columbia travel information, BC Canada. 2006. <www.bcadventure.com/adventure/wilderness/animals/raccoon.htm> (July 1, 2006).
Wikipedia. "Raccoon," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 29 June 2006. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon> (July 1, 2006).
Wikipedia. "Common Raccoon," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 16 June 2006. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Raccoon> (July 1, 2006).
New Hampshire Public Television. "Raccoon," NatureWorks. 2006. <www.nhptv.org/natureworks/raccoon.htm#7> (July 1, 2006).
Patty's Wildlife Rescue. "Twenty reasons not to have a pet raccoon...," Patty's Wildlife Rescue. 2002. <www.pattyswildliferescue.com/20_reasons.htm> (July 1, 2006). www.loomcom.com/raccoons/

Rac*coon" (rak*kOOn"), n. [F. raton, prop., a little rat, fr. rat rat, perhaps of German origin. See Rat.] (Zoöl.)

A North American nocturnal carnivore (Procyon lotor) allied to the bears, but much smaller, and having a long, full tail, banded with black and gray. Its body is gray, varied with black and white. Called also coon, and mapach.

Raccoon dog (Zoöl.), the tanate. --
Raccoon fox (Zoöl.), the cacomixle.

 

© Webster 1913

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