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Common Raccoon

Scientific name: Procyon lotor

Raccoons are some of the most prolific mammals in the world. They owe this success to their ability to find a meal in almost everything they come across; especially in their ability to exploit human leftovers. Often considered pests, raccoons have adapted to city life by depending on trash bins, dumpsters, bird-feeders and other sources of food left by us in our daily activities. They do so well living amongst us that raccoon populations tend to be more dense in urban areas than they are in their natural habitat.

photo by Darkone


11 to 57 pounds


16 to 28 inches

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All members are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders that eat whatever they can when the moment arises.

Many are seemingly friendly to people, since they may view us as a known source of food. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t aggressive wild animals that can claw or bite you if you get too close. Feeding raccoons, or leaving food or trash accessible to them is not recommended. Keeping them as pets is against the law in New York state.


Deciduous and mixed forests, with high moisture and close proximity to water; suburban and urban areas where they live in dense population in close proximity to humans; farmland. Raccoons are arboreal (live in trees). Dens are usually constructed in hollowed-out trees or logs, but they often seize an opportunity to make a home out of another animal’s burrow, crawlspaces in homes, garages, vacant structures, sewers, and piles of junk.

Life Cycle

Most wild raccoons rarely live over 3 years. Most are either hunted or trapped by humans, or killed by cars. In colder regions they often succumb to malnutrition in the winter months.

Family Structure

Mating season is from February to March. Males greatly extend their home territory to increase the potential of finding a female. Females find or expand their dens. Males leave immediately after mating. The young are born in early spring and are dependent on the mother for roughly 1 year. Raccoons mate once a year and have litters of 3 to 7.

Raccoons are nocturnal; usually solitary, but sometimes observed in groups. They do not hibernate, but may have longer sleeping periods in winter.

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