Information About Raccoons
The two rarer species are the Tres Marias Raccoon (P. insularis), native to the Caribbean, and the Crab-eating Raccoon (P. cancrivorus) of the tropics. The word "raccoon" is derived from the Algonquian word aroughcoune, "he who scratches with his hands". The genus name, Procyon, comes from the Greek word for "pre-dog"; this term is also used for the star Procyon.
The fur of raccoons is of gray and brown hues with markings of black. Raccoons can be identified with ease by their black facial mask and their thick tail with four-six black rings. The general coloration features a brownish gray to a blackish color, with greyer sides compared to the back. The neck's nape can be a corroded or rufus color and the parts under brownish with a pale wash. Ears are bordered by white or gray hairs.
Coons make their shelter in empty trees, crevices in rocks, grottos, or burrows (regularly woodchuck, old fox or skunk burrows). These animals live almost always near a water supply but they are known to also move into other creatures' homes. These intelligent creatures are omnivorous and will eat just about anything, counting: nuts, leaves, berries, grasshoppers and other crickets, grubs, dragonfly larvae, worms, clams, wasps, frogs, salamanders, small snakes, turtles and their eggs, eggs of birds and nestlings, fish, and squirrels. They regularly consume garbage pieces and sometimes dead animals on roadsides.
The main predators take in raptors such as the horned owl and mammals like bobcats, foxes or coyotes. Coons have one litter each year, of 1 to 7 but regularly 3 or 4 young. The offspring are born in the summer time and will stay alongside their mother across the winter time until the next summer.
The male raccoon offers no parental care and is violently chased away from the lair area by the female.
Raccoons are known for their swiftness being able to climb trees, moving forward or backward on their way up or down the tree. They also have the capability of dropping, uninjured, from 35 to 40 feet. Coons are fast running creatures (reaching 15 mph) and brilliant swimmers. If cornered, coons are fierce fighters and are able to kill a mature dog. The little bandits are also known for their exceptional night vision as well as a keen sense of hearing. They range from 50 to 100 cm in length (including the tail) and weigh between 4.5 and 16 kg. The raccoon's tail ranges from 20 to 40 cm in length. Male raccoons are generally larger than females.
Due to their fast population growth in the last decades, intensive coon hunting has become a popular and, somewhat needed, practice in North America. This, however, does not threaten in any way the species' future if coon hunting is done according to the laws and in the time intervals mentioned by them. Nonetheless, knowing more about these animals can help us understand and appreciate them as they fully deserve.