Map Of Where Raccoons Live
Raccoon Nation — Raccoon Facts
- 1 Raccoon Nation — Raccoon Facts
- 2 Where Do Raccoons Live?
- 3 Where Do Raccoons Live? Raccoon Range and Raccoon Habitat
- 4 Where Do Raccoons Live in the World – Raccoon Range
- 5 Raccoon Habitat
- 6 On Which Continents Do Raccoons Live?
- 7 Video of the Day
- 8 The Common Raccoon
- 9 North American Range
- 10 Other Parts of the World
- 11 Conservation and Management
Species: Procyon lotor
Size and Weight: The adult raccoon is a medium-sized mammal and the largest of the Procyonidae family. It averages 24 to 38 inches in length and can weigh between 14 to 23 lbs., or more, depending upon habitat and available food. The male raccoon, or boar, is slightly larger than the female, also referred to as sow. The young are called kits.
Physical Features: The mask of black fur that covers its eyes is its most characteristic and familiar feature. One hypothesis for the dark fur is that it may help reduce glare and enhance the nocturnal animal’s night vision. The species has grayish brown fur, almost 90% of which is dense underfur to insulate the animal against the cold. Five to eight light and dark rings alternate on its tail. Because its hind legs are longer than the front legs, a raccoon often appears hunched when they walk or run. The five toes on a raccoon’s front paws are extremely dexterous, functioning essentially as five little fingers which allow it to grasp and manipulate food it finds in the wild as well as a variety of other objects, including doorknobs, jars, and latches. A raccoon’s most heightened sense is its sense of touch. It has very sensitive front paws and this sensitivity increases underwater. When able, a raccoon will examine objects in water.
Life span: In the wild, a raccoon has a life expectancy of about 2 to 3 years, but in captivity a raccoon can live up to 20 years.
Diet: The raccoon is an omnivorous and opportunistic eater, with its diet determined heavily by its environment. Common foods include fruits, plants, nuts, berries, insects, rodents, frogs, eggs, and crayfish. In urban environments, the animal often sifts through garbage for food. The majority of its diet consists of invertebrates and plant foods.
Geography: The raccoon is native to North America and can be found throughout the United States, except for parts of the Rocky Mountains, and southwestern states like Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. It can also be found in parts of Canada, Mexico and the northern-most regions of South America. During the 20 th century, the species was introduced to other parts of the globe, and now has an extensive presence in countries like Germany, Russia, and Japan.
Habitat: Originally raccoons lived in the tropics where they could be found foraging along riverbanks. Over time they moved north up the continent, successfully adapting to new territories and expanding their diet. Traditionally, they live in tree cavities or burrows emerging at dusk to hunt frogs and crustaceans while keeping an eye out for predators such as coyotes and foxes. Barns have aided their northern migration, offering refuge from cold northern winters, and now, raccoons have been found as far north as Alaska. The species originally kept to the deciduous and mixed forests of North America, but its impressive ability to adapt has enabled the animal to move into a wide range of habitats, from mountainous terrains to large cities. The first urban sighting was in Cincinnati during the 1920s. Raccoon populations do very well in urban areas, primarily due to hunting and trapping restrictions, a general lack of predators, and an abundance of available human food. The size of a raccoon’s home range varies depending on habitat and food supply. In urban areas, its home range generally spans about one mile.
Breeding and Social Structure: The animal is nocturnal, mostly foraging and feeding at night. Though previously thought to be quite solitary, there is now evidence that the species congregates in gender-specific groups. Mating season for raccoons falls generally anytime between January and June. Most females begin reproducing around the age of one. The female has a 65-day gestation period and gives birth to two to five kits, usually in the spring. A mother usually separates from other raccoons to raise her young alone. The male does not participate in the raising of the kits. The black mask is already visible on newly-born kits. The kits stay in the den with their mother until they are between 8-10 weeks old, and will stay with their mother until they reach 13-14 months of age.
Risks: A raccoon has few predators though the animal has been known to be attacked by cougars, bobcats, and coyotes. Disease, infection, and run-ins with cars are generally the primary risks for the species. Some of their diseases, including roundworm, trichinosis and rabies, also place people and pets at risk.
- The raccoon’s scientific name, Procyon lotor is neo-Latin and translates to “before-dog washer.”
- Christopher Columbus is the first individual we know of to have written about the species.
- The raccoon’s taxonomy has been debated over time. Carl Linnaeus placed the raccoon in the Ursus genus—first as Ursus cauda elongate (“long-tailed bear”) and then as Ursus lotor (“washer bear”). In 1780, Gottlieb Congrad Christian Storr created a separate genus for the species, Procyon, meaning doglike.
- The English word “raccoon” is an adaptation of a native Powhatan word meaning “animal that scratches with its hands.”
- In the winter, the raccoon does not hibernate, but can sleep in its den for weeks.
- A raccoon can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.
- The raccoon is a good swimmer and can stay in water for several hours.
- The species makes a variety of vocalizations including hisses, whistles, screams, growls and snarls.
- A series of studies in the mid-to-late-twentieth century show that a raccoon can remember solutions to tasks for up to 3 years.
Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
What they look like: Raccoons are distinguished by a black mask across the eyes and bushy tail with anywhere from four to ten black rings. The forepaws resemble slender human hands and make the raccoon very dexterous. The coloration of the raccoon varies with habitat, and ranges from grey to reddish brown to buff.
Raccoons have a stocky build and typically weigh from six to seven kilograms (avg. 6 kg or 13.2 lbs). Males are usually heavier than females. The body length ranges from 603 to 950 mm (2 to 3 ft)
Where they live:
Raccoons are found across southern Canada, throughout most of the United States, and into northern South America. Raccoons prefer to live in moist woodland areas. They can also be found in farmlands, suburban, and urban areas.
Click the range map to learn more about the distribution of Raccoons in Washington.
What they eat: Raccoons are omnivorous animals (they eat plants and animals). Plant foods vary from fruits to nuts, including wild grapes, cherries, apples, berries, and acorns. Raccoons may also eat peaches, plums, figs, citrus fruits, watermelons, and walnuts. They also forage for crayfish, insects, frogs, fish, and bird eggs. Raccoons have adapted to eat trash and other food available in urban areas.
Behavior: Raccoons are nocturnal (active at night), but can sometimes be seen during daylight hours. They are solitary animals (live alone) and the only social group raccoons form consist of a mother and her young.
Although they move slowly, with a shuffle like walk, they can reach speeds of 15 miles per hour on the ground. Raccoons climb with agility and are can withstand a drop of 35 feet from a tree. Raccoons are excellent climbers and strong swimmers.
Reproduction: Raccoons mate between late January or early February.
Lifespan/Longevity: Raccoons have been known to live a maximum of 16 years in the wild. A captive animal was recorded living for 21 years. The life span of raccoons in the wild is estimated at three to five years.
Did you know?
- Raccoons live an average of 5 years in the wild.
- They are very agile climbers.
- They are preyed on by coyotes, wolves, hawks, and owls.
- Raccoons are nocturnal animals, so they are rarely seen during the day.
- Raccoons have excellent night vision.
Photo Credit: Tim Knight
Animal silhouettes available to purchase »
Where Do Raccoons Live?
Generally speaking, raccoons tend to favor wooded areas close to water, often making their dens in trees and logs. However, they can also be found in a variety of other habitats, from prairies to marshes and even cities, wherever there is a ready source of food.
Raccoons are common throughout the United States, although they are rare in the desert regions of Nevada, Utah and Arizona as well as some parts of the Rocky Mountains. They can also be found in Mexico, Central America and southern parts of Canada.
Unless the mother raccoon is caring for her young, raccoons tend to be solitary creatures, living and hunting alone.
Where Do Raccoons Live? Raccoon Range and Raccoon Habitat
Raccoons are found throughout most parts of the United States and southern Canada. They also occur in South America i.e. from Mexico to its northern areas. Apart from the U.S., they were also introduced in various other continents i.e. Europe and Asia. Now let’s take a deep dive into the animal’s range and habitat and find out where do raccoons live in United States, Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.
Where Do Raccoons Live in the World – Raccoon Range
Raccoons are native to the United States. They are normally found throughout the continent, except for few states. Apart from Procyon lotor (North American or Common raccoon), the remaining six species occur all over Central, South and North America. Besides, they are also found in the Caribbean Islands. The common raccoon is found from Canada to Panama.
Raccoons in Europe
Outside the United States, raccoons were introduced in various countries across the world. In the 1930s, the Soviet Union and Germany imported these mammals. Some of the other European countries where they occur today include West Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Today, the largest number of raccoons in the world (outside the U.S.) exists in Germany. In Europe, the German city called Kassel (at the northern Hasse) holds the densest population of raccoons i.e. every square kilometer hosts 50 to 150 raccoons. Likewise, they are also present in good numbers in northern France.
In Asia, they were successfully introduced in Japan as well.
Image copyright Wayne Wetherbee
Where Do Raccoons Live in Canada
In Canada, raccoons live throughout the country, except Labrador and Newfoundland. With time, as more and more area is cleared, the range of these mammals expand toward the north.
Raccoons do not restrict themselves to any specific habitat. Instead, they often occupy variety of habitats thanks to their ability to adapt perfectly to the surroundings. Since raccoons are extremely adaptable animals, they tend to occur in grasslands as well as tropical areas. Moreover, they are one of the few animals that also thrive on urban settings, including farmlands and suburbans.
These mammals inhabit swamps, forested areas and agricultural lands. Normally, they den in abandoned holes of trees and attic of urban houses. But they are mostly found living near ponds in moist woodlands.
Like us, they also require water, shelter and food sources to occupy any habitat. However, they usually prefer living in floodplain forests, marshes and hardwood swamps. They can also thrive on prairies and farmlands.
The range of these animals expands with the availability of food as well as growing number of people in a particular area. In winter when the food is in short supply, they move back to their dens and sleep for longer periods to conserve energy.
Image copyright Richard T.
The specific kind of habitat also determines raccoon population in a certain area. In agricultural areas, there are almost 5 to 10 raccoons in every square kilometer. On the contrary, each square kilometer in urban areas holds up to 100 raccoons.
Generally, raccoons do not prefer living in the open terrain. The winter denning of these mammals occurs mostly on hollow trees and logs. In places where such dens are unavailable, raccoons live in abandoned burrows of other mammals.
They seem to have little fear of humans which is why they usually settle in urban areas. In Canada and the U.S., they are present in suburbs like Toronto, Washington and Chicago. They are also found in Albuquerque, a city in the state of New Mexico. In the cities, the denning sites of raccoons occur in the nearby forested areas.
Since raccoons are nocturnal animals, they are rarely visible in daytime. For that reason, most people are curious about where do raccoons go during the day? Do they go to sleep in daylight hours or remain active and search for food all day long?
On Which Continents Do Raccoons Live?
Video of the Day
The raccoon was one of many exotic new species discovered by explorers to the New World. According to PBS, Christopher Columbus was the first person to write about the species Procyon lotor, which is native to the North American continent, but can also travel as far south as the northern countries of South America. In recent years, raccoons have also been imported to parts of Europe and Japan.
The Common Raccoon
Racoons are medium-sized nocturnal mammals covered in grayish-brown fur, with bushy tails covered with several dark rings. Their faces are marked with dark rings around the eyes that resemble a bandit’s mask, which is appropriate considering that these opportunistic omnivores have an affinity for stealing food from campsites, garbage bins, outdoor pet dishes and anywhere else they can find it. Raccoons are also notable for having five dexterous toes on each of their front paws. These are capable of grasping like fingers, allowing raccoons to be excellent climbers.
North American Range
Raccoons can be found natively throughout most of the US and Canada, as well as in parts of Latin America, from Mexico extending down to the northernmost regions of South America. They are typically found in woodlands and grassy areas, and are not found in the high Rocky Mountains or in the Southwestern desert. In the 1930s, they were also introduced into Alaska as part of the fur trade. According to PBS, raccoons originally inhabited the tropical regions of South and Central America and gradually migrated north, becoming acclimated to the cooler climates and food choices of what is now the US and Canada.
Other Parts of the World
In the early 20th century, raccoons were imported to parts of Europe, including Germany and Russia, as part of the fur trade. Later, in the 1970s, more raccoons were imported as pets in both Europe and Japan, where unfortunately many were abandoned and released into the wild as they grew up and lost some of their cuteness. As a result, both Europe and Japan have since become overrun by their respective raccoon populations.
Conservation and Management
Although the high demand for raccoon hats and coats severely depleted the native raccoon population in the early 20th century, the species has since rebounded, thanks in part to breeding efforts by the US Department of Conservation. Today, this species is abundant in North America, and management efforts are underway to prevent them from becoming overpopulous. Raccoon hunting is legal with a permit in many states, along with live-trapping raccoons that enter your property. Hunting of raccoons is also encouraged in many parts of Europe, where officials are still seeking solutions to getting the exploded raccoon population under control.