Raccoon

Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is the only Canadian member of the Procyonidae (a primarily tropical New World family of carnivores). Raccoons are distinguished by their black facial mask and ringed tail, and vary from almost black to light brown. They usually weigh 5-12 kg (maximum 22-26 kg before hibernation). Raccoons are found in south coastal area of British Columbia and parts of the Okanagan Valley, the southern halves of Alberta (excluding the ROCKY MOUNTAINS) Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, southern Québec, and the Maritimes.

Reproduction and Development

Raccoons have a nest only when nursing young. Breeding begins at one year. Usually 4 kits are born, in March to May, after 63-65 days gestation. Young become independent in autumn. They may foul their nest when adult.

Habits

Known as agile climbers, raccoons are also strong but reluctant swimmers. They may carry rabies and thus form a reservoir for the disease. Raccoons are vocal and can whistle, shriek, chatter, click their teeth, snarl, growl and make other sounds.

Diet

Raccoons are omnivorous. They manipulate their food in water but do not strictly wash it. They have sensitive hands for use in foraging, as when capturing crayfish.

Relationship with Humans

Raccoons coexist with humans in urban areas and, with sufficient food, will remain active all winter. Young raccoons enjoy human company but they become independent and asocial when mature. Their pelts are used to make coats. Recently a high incidence of rabies has been found in the raccoon of Eastern Canada. Raccoon flesh is edible when the scent glands are removed.