North American Raccoon

Procyon lotor

Ronnie and Reggie are always surprising the keepers with their whacky behaviours! These two sweet raccoons enjoy playing on their furniture and in their play pool, climbing all over the place, and grooming with Kevin the coati!

Species Information

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They originally inhabited forested areas but can now be found on the coast, mountains, and urbanised areas in North America. But they have been introduced to other countries across Asia and Europe

The English word raccoon originates from the Native American word meaning ‘animal that scratches/takes with its hands’. These hands – where their name derives from – are very sensitive as they have 4-5 times more sensory cells in their paws and 75% of their brain’s sensory processes is devoted to touch. Although they have not got thumbs, but 5 fingers, their sensitive paws helps them to ‘see with their hands’ which is beneficial as they can find potential food in hidden places. The mask-looking, black patches around their eyes is thought to help raccoon’s recognise each other as well as reducing glare by absorbing incoming light; enhancing their vision at night.

The diet of the raccoon often depends on the environment they live in. If they live in rural areas then they eat fruits, plants, nuts, smaller animals, fish and eggs. But if these ‘trash panda’s live in urban areas they often eat whatever they can scavenge.

2-5 years in the wild but up to 20 years in human care.

A raccoon will often ‘wash’ their food in water. They wet and rub their food as the water increases a raccoon’s tactile ability by stimulating their nerve endings and so they can better understand what they are handling. These nocturnal mammals are also very intelligent, possessing sophisticated problem solving skills to access food. They are also excellent climbers, evading predators and foraging for food in trees as well as sleeping in dens within hollow tree trunks.

After a gestation period of about 63 days, the female will begin to rear a nursery of 3-5 kits. From about 8-12 weeks, the raccoon kits will be weaned and begin to forage with the mother, but will not be independent until about 6-12 months.

Least Concern

Their incredible dexterity gives them the ability to manipulate combination locks, windows, and latched doors to find food – often tasks they have had no prior experience with! They can also run 15mph!