The raccoon looks very cute and cuddly, but they will often bite if approached by a human. Let’s find out what is so cool about this animal.
- What’s for dinner?
Raccoons are omnivores, which means they like to eat both meat and plants. They are very good at catching fish and frogs straight out of the water! They also enjoy eating mice, insects, bird eggs and fruits and nuts.
2. Handy paws
Something that makes the raccoon very special is his little front paws, which work a lot like human hands. Just like us, they have five fingers, and they use their paws to very quickly grab fish from the water. They can also do things that other animals can’t do, like untying shoelaces!
3. Look where you’re going!
Sadly, raccoons in the wild don’t live for a very long time. They live for around two to three years. This is because of hunting, and also because they often get run over by cars. In captivity they can live much longer – up to 20 years.
4. Presidential pet
President Calvin Coolidge, the 30th American president, had a raccoon named Rebecca as a pet. It would not be a good idea to follow his example though. While young they might get along well with a human owner, but as they grow up they become aggressive and dangerous to people. It’s always best to leave wild animals in the wild.
5. Strict mother
Baby raccoons are born with closed eyes, and their eyes only open when they are about 20 days old. They stay in their den for eight to 10 weeks, and in this time the mother is very protective of her babies. So much so that she wouldn’t even allow their father near them!
6. Top of the class
An amazing thing about raccoons is that they are more than just pretty faces! Raccoons are one of the most intelligent mammals, and studies have found that they are more intelligent than cats. In a study to test this, 11 out of 13 raccoons were able to memorise the code to a combination lock, as well as open the lock! They learn very fast, and can remember some of the things they learned for up to three years.
7. What’s in a name?
The raccoon’s scientific name is Procyon lotor, and this means ‘washer dog’. He is, however, not related to the dog family and is a closer relative of the bear family. The word ‘racoon’ is derived from the word arakun, which means ‘he scratches with his hands’.
8. Big talker
Raccoons can make a lot of different noises to communicate with one another. According to scientists, they can make more than 51 different sounds! These include purring, whistling, growling, hissing and screaming.
9. What’s my size?
While the raccoon isn’t a member of the dog family, he is about the same size as a small dog. He can grow to be 60-95cm long and weighs between 2 and 10kg.
10. Winter snooze
Raccoons are nocturnal animals, which mean that they are more active during the night than during the day. They do not like cold temperatures much! They do not hibernate like some other animals do, but during winter they can spend weeks sleeping in their dens. In this time they survive on stored body fat, and they can lose up to 50% of their body weight.