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Location, Habitat and Diet

Raccoons can be found all across the United States, and can be found as far north as central Canada and extending south as far as Argentina. Their habitat in Canada has extended northward in recent years. This is believed to be because of increased agricultural activity in Canada. They prefer to build their dens in buildings or hollow trees. They are nocturnal, which means they are most active at night. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to view them in the wild.

Raccoons are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet that includes insects, small birds, eggs, nuts, fruit, grains, and small vertebrates. They are also known for foraging for food in trash cans, and often scatter trash that is not tightly sealed.

Size and Description

Adult raccoons weigh on average about 10 to 30 pounds and are usually between two feet and a little over three feet long. Their coarse fur ranges from gray to black, with lighter colored underbellies. Their tails are generally gray with black rings. They are easily identified by their black mask-like markings around their eyes. These markings help to promote the raccoon's reputation as being sneaky and mischievious.


Raccoon cubs or kits are usually born in the spring, following a gestation or pregnancy period of about 63 days. Cubs stay in their dens with their mothers until they are about two months old. After this time they will begin to explore their world by following their mothers out of the dens. In colder climates, cubs may stay with their mothers until the next litter is born. In warmer, southern areas, they may disperse as early as three to six months.


Raccoons are one of the few animals that have adapted extremely well to humans invading their territory. Their broad diet allows them to eat almost anything that is available. They often forage through trash for food and their hand-like paws make this task much easier. They are able to easily grasp objects such as trash can lids. Although they do not technically hibernate, they do put on extra weight in the fall that helps them make it through the winter. When it is extremely cold outside, they will sometimes stay in their dens for extended periods and burn the fat that they have stored.

Special Facts

Raccoons are known for a peculiar habit of dunking their food as if to wash it before eating. The name "lotor" actually means "washer". However, this behavior does not seem to have much to do with hygiene. Raccoons seem more likely to exhibit this behavior when in captivity, but they will not hesitate to eat when there is no water nearby.

©Photographer: Alain
    Kingdom: Phylum: Order: Class: Family: Genus: Species: Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Procyonidae Procyon lotor
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