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Description :

It is easy to distinguish the Raccoon from other animals by its back and white ringed tail, as well as its characteristic black mask.
The raccoon is a robust animal of medium size,
Measuring between 65 and 96 centimeters in total length
It can weigh between 6.5 and 16 kg.
However, adult weighing up to 28 kg have been witnessed in the fall.
Males are generally larger than females.
Its small delicate hands are extremely sensitive and very adept at manipulating small objects.
It has short legs with strong feet sporting claws, making it an excellent tree climber as well.
In addition to being very comfortable in the trees, the raccoon is a good swimmer.
On the ground, it is most vulnerable because it is somewhat slow.
Molting (fur change) begins annually in spring and lasts for about three months.

Reproduction:

Mating occurs mainly in March. The young are born mostly in May.
Polygamous, the male will fertilize several females in succession.
The female, on the contrary, is monogamous and, having mated with a male, it will repel all others.
Most of the time, young females will mate during their first year.
Young males, however,  even if they are able to reproduce, do not usually have the opportunity before their second year because of the rivalry of their elders.
Litters tend to be larger in northern areas since it is not uncommon to have between three and seven young, while they are limited to two or three further south.
Gestation (period during which the mother carries her young) lasts for 63 days.

At birth, the young have no teeth, their eyes are closed and they weigh about 75 g.
The teeth will come 19 days later while their eyes will be open at the age of two and a half weeks.
About ten days after birth, the young already wear the mask and the characteristics colors of the species.
The young will remain in the mother’s den for about eight weeks: they will accompany their mother on her food foraging quests, even if they are not fully weaned before the age of two months.
The male does not participate in raising the young.

The family consists of the mother and her cubs. They are rather sociable, looking for food all night and sharing the same lair during the day.
During the first summer, the young mother shows her offspring how to climb, hunt and swim. The families usually do not dissolve before the arrival of the next litter, normally in the following spring.
Young males often leave the mother’s territory while young females can stick around.
The longevity of the species varies between three and five years in the wild; the majority of the population is completely replaced in seven years

Habits:

Raccoons can live in a variety of habitats. It seems they only need a source of water, food and a bed. Hollow trees, stumps, logs, caves, unoccupied groundhog or fox burrows and barns or other buildings of the same kind are among the favorite shelters raccoon. In urban areas, it may opt for a house chimney, a sewer pipe, a garage, an attic or a tree.

The movement and territory of the raccoon vary widely depending on habitat, population density and food sources. The territory is the area where the animal finds food, water and shelter during his daily foraging. In agricultural areas of eastern North America, their territory varies between 1 and 4 km2 while up to 50 km2 in the grasslands. In contrast, it was established that it covers less than 0.1 km2 in urban areas. Usually, these areas overlap and there was little territorial behavior, especially in cities.

Population density also varies widely depending on the type of habitat. It is estimated that agricultural areas are often home to five to ten raccoons per square kilometer, while we can find up to 100 individuals per square kilometer in urban areas.

Omnivore, raccoons eat almost anything, this food can be both plant and animal in origin. They prefer corn, crayfish, fruits and nuts, but their diet varies seasonally. In the spring, it is the animals, invertebrates (small animals without backbones) and insects that make up most of its diet. He especially likes to eat crayfish, but it also eats muskrats, squirrels, rabbits, aquatic bird eggs and freshwater clams. In summer, plants like fruits and nuts to sate its appetite. He will then revel in wild cherries, currants, elderberries, wild grapes, strawberries, potatoes and sweet corn when they get ripe. It also feeds on frogs, small fish, turtles, beetle larvae, earthworms, grasshoppers, crickets and snails when it can.

In most areas where corn grows, the cereal is the main element of their regime, but acorns, beechnuts, hazelnuts and raisins are also sought after. The animal will not hesitate to plunder insect nests such as hornets, bees, termites and ants to devour the larvae (first stage). Its thick fur protects it against their sting.

The autumn diet is extremely important for the raccoon in northern regions because they must accumulate sufficient fat reserves for the winter. The entire body, including the bones of the tail is covered with a layer of fat up to 2.5 cm thick on the back. It may compose more than half of the total weight of the animal at the end of fall. In northern regions, raccoons live off their fat reserves during winter, while farther south, where nuts and corn abound, he continues his search for food throughout the year. On the outskirts of cities, it is often seen digging in trash cans or digging through lawns in search of earthworms, beetles and larvae. It can also be harmful to farmers because they sometimes grab chicken and eggs.

During the winter torpor, their body temperature does not drop and the room temperature seems to govern the animal’s activity. Adult males are often alone in their lair, but it is not uncommon for a family to spend their first winter together.
Communities of up to 23 individuals in the same burrow but the usual number is closer to four or five.
Although it uses only one burrow during winter, the raccoon has several shelters for the other seasons.

Prevention:

As the raccoon does not have many predators, it is difficult to prevent it from coming around our homes if they find shelter and food.

In urban areas,it is accused of ravaging garages, gardens, lawns and attics.

To get rid of an individual that would have chosen your house as a shelter, the only solution is often to trap them and to release it elsewhere.

We recommend you leave that job to a specialist because these animals, who might seem very calm and peaceful, are often aggressive when they get cornered.

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