The raccoon is curious, clever, and deceptively cuddly-looking, which makes it a favorite among kids. These unique creatures are incredibly adaptable with so many fun facts for kids to learn.
So, if your kids are animal lovers, you can impress them with all of these interesting facts about raccoons. I have a great list of fun facts about their habits, breeding, human interaction, and more!
Raccoons have long had a bad reputation as pests, but there are lots of preventative measures humans can take to prevent raccoon damage. It is my hope that the better kids (and adults) understand these intelligent animals, the more they can appreciate them. We can each do our part to respect these wild animals as our neighbors.
Interesting Facts About Raccoons’ Habitat & Origins
- The scientific name or Latin name for raccoon is procyon lotor, which means “one who washes.”
- Raccoons have an extremely flexible diet, which is why they can survive in a variety of habitats.
- Raccoons live across North America, except for areas of the Rocky Mountains, Utah, and Nevada.
- Raccoons are also found in parts of Canada, throughout Mexico, and most of Central America.
- Raccoons are related to pandas and coatimundis (no wonder they’re so cute!).
Interesting Facts About Raccoons’ Habits
- Raccoons are largely solitary animals, which means they like to live by themselves.
- However, sometimes raccoons do group together, especially when they are young. A group of raccoons is called a graze or a nursery.
- Raccoons are quite grumpy, and often fight with other raccoons, and even their own family members
- Close contact with humans does not bother raccoons. They often nest in garages, sheds, empty buildings, attics, and even in crawl spaces underneath houses.
- Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, which means they are most active at night.
- Raccoons do not hibernate in the winter, but those that live further north where it’s colder, grow thick coats and sleep for long periods of time.
Interesting Facts About Racoons’ Food & Hunting
- Raccoons do not have opposable thumbs. However, they do have very nimble fingers that make their front paws work similarly to hands. They can even open doors!
- Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat plant foods and meat.
- Raccoons are also opportunistic eaters, which means they will eat almost any food that is available to them.
- In their natural habitat, raccoons normally feed along waterways and lakes.
- Raccoons are excellent swimmers and hunt as they swim. They look for fish, crayfish, frogs, turtles, and turtle eggs.
- These small mammals like to eat insects, nuts, and fruits.
- Raccoons will also catch mice, muskrats, young birds, and eat bird eggs.
- Contrary to popular belief, not all raccoons wash their food. Captive raccoons are more likely to wash their food than a wild raccoon.
- In fact, “washing” their food isn’t entirely accurate. Raccoons dip their food in water to wash away sand and debris, but also to soften food for easier eating.
- Raccoons are often considered pests in urban environments. They get this reputation from knocking over trash cans and raiding garbage cans and pet food. But as we learn in Elliot’s and the Raccons’ Wild Party, there are lots of things humans can do to avoid a raccoon problem. After all, the raccoons don’t know any better and shouldn’t be blamed for their natural antics!
Interesting Facts About Raccoons’ Breeding
- Adult raccoons usually mate in winter months, peaking in February and March. Sometimes mating continues until early summer.
- Mommy raccoons are pregnant for only 9 weeks (not 9 months like human mommies!). This is called their gestation period which is 60-73 days long
- Female raccoons can have 1-7 young in each litter. Although, 3-4 babies is most common
- Baby raccoons are called kits.
- Female raccoons are extremely protective of their kits, like a little mama bear with her cubs.
- Kits are born in a nest of leaves that the mother raccoon typically makes in hollow trees, log, or rock crevices.
- Raccoon babies are blind for the first 3 weeks of their life
- Only the mother raccoon cares for her kits, teaching them to hunt and to climb trees.
- Kits normally stay with their mother through their first winter. Then, each kit gradually leaves the nursery.
- Young raccoons do not have a mask of black fur until they are a few weeks old.
- Female raccoons will carry her kits in her mouth, moving them one at a time as needed to keep them safe.
- Female raccoons reach sexual maturity around 1 year old. Whereas male raccoons reach it around 2 years old.
Interesting Facts About Raccoons and Humans
- Some cultures eat raccoon, and the meat is said to taste like lamb.
- In 1955, a movie about Davey Crockett was released and the main character wore a hat made from the coat of a raccoon. This started a fashion trend that thankfully is not as popular today.
- Humans have long hunted and trapped raccoons for their fur. Their “coonskins” were once so prized in the United States that they were used as currency.
- Raccoons have also been killed for damaging crops and poultry. However, their population numbers remain strong.
- Raccoons are protected in national parks and nature preserves.
- Many humans fear raccoons because they are a primary carrier of rabies in the U.S. However, according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), only 1 human has ever died from the raccoon strain of rabies. Cases of raccoon rabies are more common on the East Coast than on the West Coast.
- Though raccoons are nocturnal mammals, it’s not uncommon for them to be seen during daylight hours. If a raccoon is out during the day, it does not mean it’s rabid! The raccoon may just be moving to or exploring a new location or foraging for extra food.
Miscellaneous Interesting Facts About Raccoons
- Head and body size: 18-30 in.
- Tail Length: 8-13 in.
- Weight: up to 46 lb.
- Lifespan: 10 or more years in the wild. Life expectancy is longer in captivity.
- Raccoons are very vocal creatures. They make more than 200 different sounds, including purring, growling, hissing, whimpering, and even screeching.
Elliot and the Raccoons’ Wild Party
In the second book of the Elliot’s Adventure series, Elliot follows a group of raccoons all around Sag Harbor the night before the town’s annual HarborFest celebrations.
He watches the plump little comedians feast on a buffet of discarded food as they run from place to place, leaving messes in their wake. If only the owners of those trash bins learned what Elliot had learned from a wildlife expert at school! Then the messes could have been easily avoided.
Elliot is just a secret observer until he has the chance to help and forms a bond with the adorable group of raccoons!