Are Raccoons Canines

Are raccoons related to canines ?

Wiki User
November 06, 2015 12:18AM

No, raccoons are procyonids, not canids.

Procyonidae is a New World family of the order

Carnivora. It includes the raccoons, coatis,

kinkajous, olingos, olinguitos, ringtails and cacomistles.

Facts About the Raccoon Dog – A Rare But Endangered Species

Raccoon dogs have a distinct and rare genealogy, which makes them unique from all other canines. These docile animals have several interesting characteristics, which make them special.

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Raccoon dogs have a distinct and rare genealogy, which makes them unique from all other canines. These docile animals have several interesting characteristics, which make them special…

Raccoon dogs also known as Nyctereutes procyonoides, belong to the Canidae family, which are known to have distinct dog and wolf like characteristics and appearance. These animals are both carnivorous and omnivorous mammals. The raccoon dog originated in east Asia, after which it was introduced into Central and Western Europe. This animal has been deemed as an invasive species because of the ecological destruction it causes to berry farming. The animal is also a carrier of rabies and tapeworms. It is the only subspecies remaining from the extinct group of animal genus, known as the Nyctereutes. The Nyctereutes became extinct long before the Pleistocene, thereby making the present day raccoon dog among the rarest animals in the world, for having withstood the extinction over these many years.

Generic Information About Raccoon Dogs

  • This animal is native to China, Japan and has been introduced into Siberia and Russia for hunting purposes, from where it has spread into France, Germany and Scandinavia.
  • Raccoon dogs look very similar to raccoons but have no genetic similarities between them. The raccoon dog has comparatively rounder and smaller ears, short legs and a longer body.
  • These animals prefer dwelling in dense woodlands, which is why their habitat has dwindled to a large extent. This has thus increased the instances of raccoon dogs invading into commercial human inhabited areas.
  • These animals prefer living near water bodies and are excellent swimmers. Fish and frogs make a major part of their diet.
  • These animals have a life span of 7-8 years in the wild and can live up to 11 years or more if bred in captivity.
  • A peculiar trait practiced by raccoon dogs is that they will defecate and urinate in one allotted spot alone, and will thereafter cover the place by piling mud. This trait is also practiced by dogs and some cats.
  • Wolves are the major predators of raccoon dogs. Red foxes are known to kill raccoon dog pups.
  • These animals do not bark, and will growl in a manner which will sound like the hiss of a cat. They have a very shrill call, but are predominantly quiet and docile in nature. A raccoon dog as a pet will be gentle and inquisitive. These animals rarely go into hibernation while in captivity. Since these animals are carriers of rabies and tapeworms, it would be advisable to get the pet vaccinated and duly treated for worms.

Feeding Habits & Hibernation

  • These animals are carnivorous and hunt smaller animals in order to survive. Animals such as lizards, rodents, frogs, spiders and snakes are all thoroughly enjoyed by the raccoon dogs. However these animals enjoy feeding on some fruits such as berries.
  • These animals have a thick coat of fur, which protects them during winters. They are the only canine like species which hibernate during winters. They will hibernate only if they do not have sufficient food to feed on or cannot hunt for lack of prey.
  • Raccoon dogs gain 50% more of their body weight before the onset of winter. Hibernating raccoon dogs become more active during early February, when the climate becomes relatively warmer. This is when they begin to shed all the excess weight.
  • These animals are monogamous and will mate for life. It is only if the mate dies or is killed, will the other search for a new mate. This monogamous relationship is practiced even during hibernation, as the two mates will hibernate in one den. During this period they will maintain close body contact to keep each other warm and will groom each other as well. This is a trait not practiced by canines, as dogs neither hibernate and nor are they monogamous in nature.

Reproduction Traits

  • Raccoon dogs are nocturnal and will forage for food with its mate during nighttime, while leaving the den for a few hours. The den is left unattended only if there are no pups to look after.
  • A female raccoon dog can give a litter of 6-8 pubs, each of which will weigh about 4 oz at the time of birth. These pups will be able to open their eyes only after the first week has lapsed. They will be fed milk until they are 5 weeks old, after which the mother will wean them. The pups being too weak to walk, will emerge out of the den after the 3 week.
  • The father raccoon dog will forage for food and bring it for the female and the pups. During the day the mother leaves the pups in the male dog’s care, while she goes for foraging, while during nights the male raccoon dog takes over the responsibility of bringing in more food.
  • Raccoon dogs reach their full growth at the age of 4.5 months. They become sexuallly mature at 8–10 months.

Raccoon dogs have been hunted all over Japan for its fur and body parts, which is believed to have medicinal value. In European countries these animals are hunted down because of their invasive nature and insatiable appetite for berries, which destroys the output for berry farmers.

Raccoon Teeth

These are genuine raccoon teeth (canines or incisors), professionally cleaned and in good quality. They come in varying lengths, ranging from 2.25 cm to 3.50 cm long on the outside curve. They are 0.5 cm wide. Ideal for craft and design projects.

Please note that we store the teeth in mineral oil to reduce the chance of cracking. All teeth may crack with the passage of time, especially if stored or used in a dry climate. To reduce the chance of cracking, apply a light coating of mineral oil to the tooth as needed. We cannot ensure that a tooth will not crack with time.

Order Code Description Price each
CR-174-770 Raccoon Tooth C$5.25

Genus and species: Procyon lotor. Wild

Raccoons are not endangered and are not subject to CITES controls.

What Family Are Raccoons In?

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Raccoons are cute and quirky creatures, what with their memorably dark-rimmed eyes and rather rotund physiques. The moderately sized mammals also look nothing like a lot of other animals you might frequently see scampering around, whether deer, rabbits or squirrels. Raccoons are part of a totally different family, after all.

What Family Are Raccoons In?

The omnivorous and mostly nocturnal mammals are part of the family Procyonidae, which also consists of coatis and other similar animals. Raccoons are also part of the order Carnivora.

Common Shared Body Traits of the Family Procyonidae

Although all of the animals within the family Procyonidae are different, as members of the same unit, they do also share a variety of key physical bodily traits. Some common characteristics of most Procyonidae animals are tails that are of moderate to extended length, relatively long bodies, short ears and curving claws. In general, the animals range from little to moderate size, reports the Animal Diversity Web website of the University of Michigan. Some can weigh less than 5 pounds, while others can even exceed 40 pounds.

Shared Facial Traits

Raccoons and other members of the family Procyonidae typically possess facial features that are reminiscent of foxes, notes the website for the University of Edinburgh’s Natural History Collections. Despite the facial similarities, foxes are members of a totally different family — the family Canidae. Family Procyonidae animals usually feature conspicuous marking patterns on their faces. These markings also appear on their tails, as well. The animals also usually have wide faces.

Specific Examples of Family Procyonidae Animals

Some of the various different animals that are closely intertwined with the raccoon within the family Procyonidae include the kinkajou, the ringtail, the white-nosed coati and the South American coati. Animals from the family appear in a diverse range of settings, which include tropical rainforest, desert and swampy areas. Raccoons are particularly prevalent in prairies, woodlands, swamps and urban regions, and are usually very adept at adjusting to new and unfamiliar living environments, reports the website for the Department of Environmental Conversation for New York State. The nimble animals also frequently reside by rivers.

Are Raccoons More Like Dogs or Cats?

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My wife and I left the city of Seattle and moved into a small suburb. Not too long ago, a family of trash pandas raccoons walked across our backyard deck, like they owned the place. (See photo.)

This got me thinking. Are raccoons more like dogs or cats? They certainly exhibit both kinds of behaviors. On the one hand, like dogs, they live in packs. But not always. Raccoons, especially males, go through a phase when they live alone, just like most cats. Other research has shown that raccoons form sex-specific groups. That’s right; raccoons have «boys only» and «girls only» clubs.

Raccoons are extremely intelligent, which (sorry cat lovers) makes them a bit more like dogs. (Dogs have twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortices than cats, the parts of the brain associated with higher level thinking.) Raccoons are omnivores, and though dogs are technically carnivores, they’ll eat just about anything you give them. Cats, on the other hand, are picky eaters.

So, that settles it. Raccoons are like dogs? Well, sort of. The term «trash panda» really is accurate; raccoons are most similar to bears.

Raccoons and Bears Share a Common Ancestor

Along with dogs and cats, raccoons are part of the order Carnivora. However, an evolutionary tree shows that they are most closely related to bears, sharing a more recent common ancestor with these burly beasts than with either of our domesticated friends.

Notice that the evolutionary tree splits earliest between cat-like species («Feliformia») and dog-like species («Caniformia»). So, the dog-cat division happened early in carnivore evolution. Raccoons arose within the Caniformia suborder. So, technically, the answer to our question is that raccoons are more «like dogs.» But there’s more to the story.

As evolution progressed, the ancestors of modern-day dogs and the ancestors of modern-day raccoons went their separate ways. Then, about 40 million years ago, the tree split again, with raccoon-like animals going one way and bear-like animals going another. (Here is a tree depicting the evolution of just bears and raccoons.)

There’s a Bear in the Woods

As it so happens, a few days after we bought our new house, a black bear wandered through our yard. (It climbed over our fence and its sizable rear end bent it.) Little did we know that the raccoon family that made an appearance a few months later were cousins. Distant cousins, but cousins nonetheless.

Are Raccoons Dangerous? 11 Questions To Get The Facts About Raccoons

Are Raccoons Dangerous? 11 Questions To Get The Facts About Raccoons

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  • Leptospirosis
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“Able to cause harm or death, likely to cause problems or have adverse consequences.” This is the definition of “dangerous” as found in the dictionary. Do raccoons fit this definition? Are raccoons dangerous?

The first part of the above definition is pretty drastic. To say that raccoons can cause death is probably not fair to the animal. When you have raccoons around your property, you don’t feel like they are about to kill you at any time, right? In some very rare cases, the presence of a raccoon can be fatal to humans, but we will explain that later. Generally, however, this is not the kind of “dangerous” we commonly have in mind when it comes to raccoons.

Raccoons are widespread in the U.S. and more and more people every year are likely to have a raccoon encounter. While some people welcome such a meeting, others may panic if the animal is spotted around their house. Which is the correct approach to raccoons?

As we often say, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Keep in mind this statement that encompasses an essential truth about raccoons: In most cases, are raccoons dangerous? As dangerous as you allow them to be.

Let’s look at some facts about raccoons and the reasoning behind this statement by answering the most popular questions that people ask when raccoons come too close.

1. Do Raccoons Kill Cats?

Raccoons are wild animals, and they behave as such. Incidents with cats are not frequent, but your pet and a raccoon could get into a conflict. This usually happens for one of two reasons. One, cats may chase raccoons. If the raccoon feels trapped, he will defend himself by attacking your cat. Two, raccoons love cat food. If they get used to feeding from your cat’s bowl, a fight could easily ignite.

Cats are by nature reserved and usually don’t pay much attention to raccoons. That’s why it’s not common for raccoons to attack cats. But if you aren’t careful about putting your cat’s food inside at night, you may be inviting raccoons to visit your property, a bad habit that could easily answer the question of are raccoons dangerous by putting your cat in harms way. If a fight breaks out between your cat and a raccoon, there will not be a happy ending for your pet. A raccoon can easily kill a cat, or at least inflict severe wounds.

As a preventive measure, make your house raccoon-proof and always keep your cat and its food inside at night.

2.Do Raccoons Attack Dogs?

There are reports of raccoons attacking dogs for no apparent reason. This is not the norm; raccoons do not usually attack dogs without cause.

If there are raccoons in your neighborhood, you should still be cautious. Dogs are curious but territorial creatures. If they see a raccoon in the yard, they may chase after him either out of curiosity or to defend their territory. The raccoon’s first reaction is to flee, but if he is cornered and feels trapped, he will attack your dog.

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Another potentially dangerous scenario is when the raccoon visits your house to eat your dog’s food. You know how jealous your dog is at mealtimes. If he spots the raccoon stealing his food, a fight will start in no time. When raccoons and dogs have a confrontation, pets are the ones who typically pay the consequences. A raccoon’s claws and teeth are sharp weapons, and they can kill small dogs. If your dog is big or medium-sized, he may survive the encounter, but he will come away severely injured.

You play a significant role in preventing raccoon run-ins. Always keep both your pet and its food inside at night and do all you can to keep raccoons away from your house altogether.

3. Do Raccoons Eat Chickens?

Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat anything, including chickens. The eggs in particular are a succulent meal for raccoons, who will venture inside your property looking for a treat. Once the raccoon is in your chicken coop, he may decide to kill the birds as a source of food.

It is vital to raccoon-proof the area where you keep your chickens. During the night, keep the coop closed. Raccoons are brilliant and have nimble fingers; for them, opening a lock is a walk in the park. For this reason, you need to use latches or locks that raccoons cannot easily open.

The area where the chickens are during the day needs to be protected by a fence. Raccoons are nocturnal animals, but it is not unusual for them to hang around your property during the day. Therefore, your chickens are a potential target all day long. Since raccoons are excellent climbers, an electric fence is the best solution to discourage the critters from nabbing your chickens.

4. What Other Dangers Do Raccoons Pose To My Pets?

In the first two questions, we considered why raccoons might attack cats or dogs. Here are some more facts about raccoons and your pets.

Besides the risk of violent encounters, raccoons are a threat to your pet’s health. The presence of raccoons often goes hand in hand with a flea, ticks or mites infestation, so your pet is at higher risk of contracting diseases if raccoons are around.

Another significant danger is raccoon droppings. Raccoon feces and urine are carriers of diseases like Leptospirosis and raccoon roundworm, some of which can be fatal to your pet or cause serious health issues. It is quite easy for your pet to come into contact with or ingest raccoon droppings.

Additionally, if your dog gets infected, his droppings will become dangerous as well, exposing you and your family to the same health risks.

5. Do Raccoons Have Rabies?

Raccoons, along with other wild animals like foxes, skunks and bats, are the primary rabies carriers in the United States. Even though contagion rarely happens, raccoons are potentially dangerous to the health of you and your pets. The disease is transmitted by a bite or a scratch. If you ever have such an encounter with a raccoon, you need proper medical treatment immediately. Even though post-exposure treatments are available and efficient, they are known to be very painful and highly expensive.

Not all raccoons have rabies. A 2013 survey revealed that about 32 percent of raccoons are rabies carriers. The percentage is still high enough to demand extreme caution. Close contact with raccoons, such as feeding them by hand, must be avoided so as not to expose yourself to potential bites.

6. Is A Raccoon Rabid If He Is Out During The Day?

This is a common belief. Raccoons are well known to be nocturnal, and it is not common to see them around during the day. But when a raccoon is rabid, his behavior changes. For instance, raccoons are usually shy, but a rabid raccoon may become unusually aggressive. And yes, he may wander around in the daytime.

However, sometimes non-rabid raccoons decide to deviate from their customary habits. If a mother raccoon is taking care of newborns, for example, she may be around in the daytime looking for extra food for her litter. In other cases, raccoons living in metropolitan areas have developed different habits from the ones living in the wild. These different habits may include looking for food during the day.

If you see a raccoon out in the daytime, do not jump to the conclusion that he is rabid. Observe his behavior instead. Besides becoming more aggressive, a rabid raccoon has difficulty walking straight, and his movements are somewhat impaired or unnatural. It is quite easy to recognize that something is wrong with the animal. On the other hand, if the raccoon is alert, quick and moving naturally, and if he can climb without any apparent problems, it means that everything is OK. He is probably just hungry and scrounging for food.

7. Are Raccoon Feces Dangerous?

We can’t answer the question, are raccoons dangerous, without talking about the dangers of raccoon droppings. This is one of the most serious and worrisome facts about raccoons. If the animals start using your yard as a latrine, or if they settle inside your house, their droppings need to be handled with extreme caution.

Raccoons feces can spread several serious and sometimes fatal diseases.

For instance, Leptospirosis is a bacteria found in raccoon urine. If the urine touches an open wound or is ingested accidentally, the disease may be contracted. If promptly treated, Leptospirosis can be cured. Otherwise, it can cause kidney failure or meningitis with fatal or devastating consequences to the human body.

Salmonella is another bacteria found in raccoon feces. Infection happens by incidental ingestion. Many people recover without any treatment, but sometimes hospitalization is necessary.

The raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is the most dangerous threat found in raccoon feces. To become infected, you don’t have to touch or ingest the droppings; it is enough just to inhale airborne eggs. That is what make this disease extremely dangerous. Once contracted, the roundworm will attack the brain, the eyes or the spinal cord causing permanent damage or in some cases death. To make matters worse, areas touched by raccoon droppings remain dangerous for several years.

Obviously raccoon droppings are a serious issue. Unfortunately, too often people underestimate the danger. When you consider that babies and young children are especially at risk, as are your pets, you should feel compelled to properly address the problem.

Click here to read a complete article on the many ways raccoon droppings are dangerous and how to remove them. In any case, the best option for removing the droppings is to call to a wildlife specialist like Get Raccoons Out. We will not only clean the area but sanitize it thoroughly to ensure total safety for your family.

8. Do Raccoons Attack Humans?

Generally speaking, raccoons do not attack humans. Raccoons are wild animals and as such they prefer to avoid any contact with humans, choosing to flee instead if they see you coming.

But there are situations that may push raccoons to attack humans. This is usually caused by taking a wrong approach to the critters. The primary mistake you should avoid, which is unfortunately all too common around the U.S., is making your house appealing to raccoons.

If a raccoon can easily find food around your property — for example, in an unprotected trash can or a pet’s outdoor food bowl — he may become overly accustomed to your house and your presence. A bold raccoon can get too close to humans, increasing the chances of a confrontation. If you try to chase away the raccoon and end up cornering him, you’ve set up a classic situation where a raccoon may attack you in self-defense.

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Following the same line of reasoning, intentionally feeding raccoons is something to avoid altogether. It is not beneficial for any wild animal to be fed by humans, and it is an excellent way to invite raccoons to enter your house. If you feed them by hand, the raccoons will not attack you, but they may bite you.

One of the most dangerous situations that can expose you to an attack is when a raccoon lives in your house, perhaps in your attic, chimney, garage or a crawl space. Oftentimes when raccoons settle in your house, it’s because the mother is about to give birth. A mother raccoon is very protective of her baby raccoons. If, in an attempt to get rid of the raccoons, you get too close to the pups, the mother may attack you.

For this reason, if raccoons are around your yard or inside your house, it is always a good idea to ask for the intervention of a raccoon removal expert like Get Raccoons Out. A professional approach to raccoon removal will prevent accidents and limit the damage the raccoon can cause.

9. Are Raccoons Dangerous To Human Health?

Yes, raccoons are dangerous to human health in several ways.

As aforementioned, raccoons are rabies carriers. Cases of a human contracting rabies from a raccoon are very few; however, the possibility is still there. Rabies is a life-threatening disease in humans, but it can be easily cured if you contact your doctor immediately. The price you pay is enduring a series of painful, costly injections.

A lesser known but more serious threat to human health comes from raccoon droppings. Raccoon feces and urine can spread some dangerous diseases, including Leptospirosis, Salmonella and raccoon roundworm. Of these diseases, raccoon roundworm is especially worrisome since transmission doesn’t happen by contact but by inhalation. An area that has been touched by raccoon droppings can remain infected for years after the droppings are removed if it’s not sanitized properly.

If you have children, you need to be super careful. Kids like to play on the ground and are notorious for putting things in their mouths. For this reason, they are at high risk if there are raccoon droppings in your yard.

Your pets are also exposed to the danger. Additionally, a pet that has been infected by raccoon droppings becomes a carrier. As a result, his droppings are now dangerous too, further heightening the risk to your family’s health.

A word of caution if you have raccoon droppings in your yard or house: Before removing them, wear disposable clothing, gloves and a professional respirator. All the tools you use need to be disposed of or, even better, burned.

Due to the high and often underestimated risks posed by raccoon droppings, the intervention of a wildlife specialist is always the wisest choice.

For more information about the risks posed by raccoon feces and urine and how to handle them, read this article on the dangers of raccoon droppings.

10. Are Raccoon Dangerous In My Yard?

It is never a good idea to have raccoons roaming around your yard. They may not be dangerous at first, but they may become so in time. That is why it’s important to take every preventive measure to keep raccoons away from your garden.

Among the problems a raccoon can cause in your yard are broken bird feeders, stolen vegetables and fruit, raided trash cans, destroyed flowers and so on. All of these are nuisances that may cost you a little money but are not real dangers.

A greater danger is to your pets. A raccoon visiting your yard may have an encounter with your pet sooner or later. If they start a fight, make no mistake — the raccoon will be the winner. A raccoon can easily kill a small cat or dog, and larger pets may come away severely injured.

Don’t underestimate the danger of raccoon droppings in your yard. Raccoon droppings are highly hazardous to humans and pets. The diseases carried in raccoon feces and urine are sometimes easily treatable but other times incapacitating or even fatal. Children are particularly exposed to the dangers of raccoon droppings, which should make it a matter serious enough to deserve your attention.

A raccoon that grows accustomed to your yard may in time decide to enter your house and make his den inside. This is a scenario to avoid at any cost. Once the raccoon is inside your house, the damage he can cause is unlimited. If you do not get rid of the raccoon promptly, the cost for repairs may amount to several thousand dollars.

If you have raccoons around your yard, do not hesitate to contact a raccoon removal specialist like Get Raccoons Out before it is too late. We will be glad to help you not only in removing the critters but also in wildlife-proofing your property. Most important, if the raccoons have already damaged your property, we will help you file a successful claim with your insurance company.

11. Are Raccoons Dangerous In My House?

When dealing with raccoons, having them inside your house is the most worrisome scenario.

The critters may decide to make a den in the crawl spaces underneath your house or deck. But it is more serious when a raccoon enters your house and makes himself at home in your attic, garage or walls. If you are not alert in detecting signs of a raccoon’s presence inside your house, the animal will use the opportunity to destroy your property.

Typical damage caused by raccoons includes trampled insulation, chewed pipes and cables, torn apart ducts, destroyed wall insulation and so on. Sometimes, to find a way into your house, a raccoon will even damage the roof or the walls, tearing apart shingles and wood planks.

All this destruction may result in increased heating bills due to the damaged insulation or water leaks through raccoon-made holes in the roof. Damaged water pipes and electric cables are also very dangerous as they can cause flooding or fire.

The area where the raccoon decides to make a den will be contaminated by his feces and urine, which are hazardous to human health. Removing the droppings and sanitizing the area is a dangerous task if not done carefully and while wearing the proper protection gear.

If you hear the critters moving inside your house or if you suspect they may be around, immediately call a raccoon removal service like Get Raccoons Out. Time is crucial when dealing with raccoons. You cannot afford to give the raccoon any extra time to wreak havoc on your property. Addressing the problem by yourself can be partially or totally ineffective, whereas a professional service will remove the raccoons quickly and safely. Additionally, a wildlife professional will help you handle your insurance company. Most insurance companies cover the damage caused by raccoons if you know how to correctly file your claim.

Final Thoughts On The Dangers Posed By Raccoons

There is one thing that all the above facts about raccoons have in common: You always have a chance to prevent raccoon problems.

If you take preventive measures and do not allow raccoons to come near your house, you will rarely have issues with these creatures. It is critical for you to make your house uninviting to raccoons before it’s too late.

If you want to know all the steps for keeping raccoons away, contact us and we will assist you in making your house raccoon-proof.

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