Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.
What Is a Raccoon?
It has a dark mask and creeps around at night, but it's not a burglar. It's a raccoon! Raccoons are famous for clanging around in trashcans after dark, looking for a snack, and they aren't picky about what they eat, but there is much more to these interesting animals!
Raccoons are animals with grayish-brown fur, ringed tails and a mask of dark fur on their face. They are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. That doesn't mean that you won't see one during the day, however.
Most of their fur coat is made up of a thick undercoat, which keeps them warm when it gets cold. Raccoons have anywhere from five to eight dark and light rings on their tail and black fur on their face that looks like a mask.
Raccoons can weigh up to 23 pounds, run up to 15 miles per hour on land, are good swimmers and usually live about 2 or 3 years in the wild.
The male raccoons are called boars and females are called sows, just like pigs!
They have five very sensitive toes on each of their front paws that act like fingers. These toes help them get food. In fact, their toes work so much like fingers that they can open things like doorknobs, gate latches and even unscrew lids off jars. If you leave your door unlocked, you could find a raccoon running around in your house looking for food!
Not only do they have finger-like toes, they are very smart! Their intelligence has been compared to that of monkeys, and they are known to be clever and curious. Don't be fooled, though. They might look cute, but they will attack and bite to defend themselves, so they should be left alone.
What Do Raccoons Eat?
Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. Their food includes frogs, crayfish, mice, insects, eggs, berries, fruit and plants. They also don't care if it comes from your garden or your trash, which is why some people think of them as pests.
They aren't fussy eaters and will eat most anything they find. Remember their toes that act like fingers? Raccoons can use those toes to easily open a trash can lid, and will happily grab any leftovers you might have thrown away, scattering trash everywhere and leaving a mess.
Where and How Do Raccoons Live?
Raccoons are originally from North America and can be found throughout most of the United States. However, they are some places in the U.S. where they aren't seen, such as areas of the Rocky Mountains and in some southwestern states like Utah, Arizona and Nevada. They can also be found in the northern part of South America and have also been taken by people to other countries around the world.
They make their dens in tree holes, burrows in the ground and even sometimes a house's attic. A mother raccoon will have two to five kits, or babies, and raises them alone.
Raccoons who live farther north where the weather is cold may sleep most of the winter in their den after eating a great deal of food to add body fat.
Raccoons are nocturnal, usually coming out at night to search for food. They are also omnivores, meaning they eat plants and meat. Raccoons aren't fussy eaters and have finger-like toes that let them get into things like trash cans. They are common in most parts of the United States and live in dens for shelter.
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