18 Real Facts About Raccoons Everyone Should Know

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By Jonathan Trent

Raccoons are often known as nature’s bandits, stealing food, breaking and entering homes, and being a general nuisance when in residential areas. However, there is more to these creatures than their misdemeanors. Here are 18 facts about raccoons that everyone should know.

They Can Survive Anywhere

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Raccoons are incredibly versatile animals; because of their physical abilities and non-fussy eating habits, they can survive in a multitude of different surroundings, including mountainous areas, urban areas, and tropical areas. As National Geographic reported, they are even set to move to new areas as a result of climate change!

Raccoons are Excellent Climbers

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Raccoons are highly skilled climbers, able to scale a range of surfaces, including trees, brick walls, roofs, gutters, and downspouts. This ability helps them gain access to homes and causes damage, but thankfully, steps can be taken to limit this, such as trimming back trees away from the house or lubricating downspouts.

They’re Nocturnal

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One of the main reasons why raccoons can go undetected in residential areas is that they are nocturnal. This means that they tend to operate in the dead of night, causing havoc without the risk of being spotted by humans.

They Eat Anything

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One of the raccoons’ strong points is their desire to eat anything and everything that they can get their hands on. They are omnivores who don’t rely on successful hunting trips for survival. This means they’ll look through your trash, rip up your homegrown plants, and attempt to steal from your kitchen.

Raccoons Carry Harmful Diseases

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If you see a raccoon on your property, it’s recommended that you don’t try to touch it. They may be kind of cute, but raccoons can carry diseases such as rabies, salmonella, and leptospirosis, which humans can transmit through scratches, bites, and feces. Stay away!

They Have a Complex Language

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Compared to most other animals, the raccoon’s language is fairly sophisticated. They can make over 50 different sounds, using hissing, purring, and growling sounds to communicate with their fellow raccoons when alerting them, warning them, and trying to mate with them. That’s pretty clever!

They Love Cities

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Despite hailing from more natural areas, raccoons thrive in cities, with the Canadian city of Toronto being most heavily affected by their presence. According to NPR, the council authorities have become so aggravated by the animals that they once spent 31 million Canadian Dollars on the introduction of raccoon-proof waste bins!

They Have Effective Paws

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The two front paws of a raccoon contain five dexterous toes, which work in a similar manner to the human hand. These toes help the raccoon grasp things, open food containers, and lift things up. The paws also rotate 180 degrees, which allows the raccoon to climb up and down trees and downspouts headfirst.

Raccoons Can Safely Fall From Height

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Raccoons never have to worry about falling out of the trees they climb, as they can survive unharmed from heights of around 40 meters! This is because they relax their muscles when they fall, causing their bodies to spread out, absorbing damage without breaking any bones.

They are Natural Problem Solvers

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Raccoons are highly intelligent creatures and are natural problem solvers. If they discover that tipping over a trash can gives them access to food, they will frequently return to the same spot. It’s this problem-solving ability that helps them break into homes and survive so easily!

The Lifespan of a Raccoon Varies Greatly

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In the wild, a raccoon’s average lifespan is just two to three years, although this number is greatly affected by unnatural risks like vehicles rather than natural predators. In captivity, however, things are different, as they can live for up to 20 years.

Raccoons are Promiscuous

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Unlike many animals, raccoons don’t tend to settle for a life partner, with male raccoons mating with multiple females in the same mating season. Male raccoons are also absent fathers, having nothing to do with the raising of their young. Oh dear!

There are Raccoons in Europe

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Despite being native to the Americas, raccoons are an ever-growing population in Europe. They were initially brought over in the 1920s for fur farming, with many escaping in the following years. Newsweek estimates that there are between 60,000 and 70,000 raccoons in Belgium alone, causing havoc to native wildlife species.

Japan’s Raccoon Problem was Self-Inflicted

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Japan is another nation with a self-inflicted raccoon problem. After the anime series ‘Rascal the Raccoon’ came out in 1977, the show’s popularity prompted the government to import hoards of raccoons for people to keep as pets. However, raccoons are not domesticated animals, leading many to find their way into the wild.

They Are Not Endangered

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Raccoons are one of the relatively few species that thrive because of the rising human population due to their incredible versatility. It is estimated that there are between five and 10 million raccoons in North America, with the global population estimated at around 20 million. Maybe they’ll take over the world!

Raccoons Cover Almost the Entirety of the USA

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So huge is the spread of raccoons that they now exist in 49 of the 50 states–that’s crazy! The only state they haven’t managed to take over is Alaska, despite attempts by fur traders to transport raccoons to the area. The attempts were unsuccessful, and the species has not been seen in Alaska for decades.

They Can Grow to be Large

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Despite their nimbleness, raccoons can grow to become large, measuring 20 to 30 inches in length and weighing 10 to 20 lbs, as the State of Connecticut points out. The largest ever recorded raccoon weighed 75 pounds, although he was kept domestically and fed frequently.

Raccoons Don’t Hibernate

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Finally, while they don’t exactly thrive in cold weather, raccoons are not natural hibernators. However, during the spring and summer months, they will build up their body fat, which allows them to fall asleep in their dens for weeks at a time. That’s just another example of how versatile these mischievous creatures are!