Common Name: Raccoon.
Scientific Name: Procyon Lotor.
What to look for? A conniving thief with a bandit’s mask! Raccoons are distinguished by a black mask across their eyes with white fur around the mask. Raccoons have a muzzle that is fairly pointed. Its ears are prominent, rounded and furred. And they have a bushy tail with anywhere from four to ten black rings. Raccoons have some of the most dexterous hands in nature. Their forepaws resemble slender human hands. The coloration of the raccoon varies with habitat, and ranges from grey to reddish brown to buff.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Sightings will be random and mostly after dark around the wooded area north of the ponds or roaming the pond rim.
How big are they? The Raccoon averages 24 to 36 inches in length and weigh 10 to 20 pounds.
How else do they behave? Raccoons are nocturnal but can occasionally be seen during daylight hours. They are solitary animals 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 can withstand a drop of 35 feet from a tree. Raccoons are excellent climbers and strong swimmers.
What’s for dinner? Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic. Raccoons snare many of their meals around ponds, marshes and other bodies of water. They use lightning-quick paws to grab crayfish, frogs, and other aquatic creatures. On land, they grab mice and insects from their hiding places and will raid nests for scrumptious eggs. Raccoons also eat fruit and plants. They will even open garbage cans to dine on the contents.
Where do they take up residence? 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.
When and where do they breed and nest? Raccoons will den in a tree hole, fallen log, or even a house's attic. Raccoons generally mate from January through March. Females have one to seven cubs several months later. The young raccoons often spend the first two months or so of their lives high in a tree hole. Later, mother and children move to the ground when the cubs begin to explore on their own. (Photos of raccoon family courtesy of Tom S. Photography.)
Where do they migrate? Raccoons do not migrate nor do they truly hibernate in the winter. Rather they may sleep for several weeks at a time. Raccoons in the northern parts of their range gorge themselves in spring and summer to store up body fat. They then spend much of the winter asleep in a den.
Do they make any interesting sounds? The Raccoon makes a variety of sounds including hisses, whistles, screams, growls, and snarls.
Interesting Facts About Raccoons:
The English word raccoon comes from the Powhatan word “aroughcun”, which means "animal that scratches with its hands."
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.
Raccoons are good swimmers.
For more information on Raccoons and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit National Geographic, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Nature Works and National Wildlife Foundation.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!