The Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Updated: Sep 7, 2019
The raccoon is a cute and highly intelligent animal that is often spoken of poorly in casual conversation. Many people believe that this little guy is far more of a vermin than the fascinating animal that it truly is. So let's get into learning more about them and reveal little known facts about this species.
Behavior and Physical Characteristics
One of my favorite things about the racoon is the fact that it has pseudo-opposable thumbs. This means that they can use their thumbs in a similar way that we humans can use them. As a result, they are fairly good at doing things like picking locks and untying knots.
Their hands are used to help them get information about the world around them. They are most famous for dipping their food in water. This helps the raccoon increase sensitivity in their hands. This process helps them to find out if there are any sharp or inedible objects in the food before they eat it. Watching videos of them doing this with cotton candy is a guilty pastime of mine.
Raccoons are well known for breaking into houses and trashcans to avoid negative environmental impacts. With their black "mask" coloration around their eyes, they are often colloquially known as 'Trash Bandits'. They have rings around their tails as well, which might help them to confuse predators.
Habitat and Location
While they are native to forests and other heavily wooded areas, they are extremely adaptable. As a result, they have been able to adapt to city life fairly easily, and are known as a pest in cities and neighborhoods.
They are native to the Americas but have been able to get to and adapt to places in Europe, the Mediterranean sea, and Japan. While several other species have been on the decline due to industrialization, deforestation, and climate change, the raccoon population is increasing.
There is a lot to learn about the raccoon; and since it lives so close to humans, it is well studied. So check out some more about it in the video below.