About Raccoons: Appearance, biology, life cycle, habitat, diet, behavior

Raccoon is a wild animal and belongs to the species close to that of rats. There are many different names of this animal in different areas like North American raccoon or simply Northern raccoon. It is also sometimes called as coon. This is basically native to North America and is a medium sized animal.

Appearance and Biology
Among other member animals of its family, raccoon is the largest animal. The length of the body of raccoon is about 40 cm minimum to 70 cm at maximum. Similarly the body weight of raccoon also varies from young ones to adults which are in the range from 3.5 kg to 9 kg. The coat color of a raccoon is grayish in color and has got a thick fur. Basically the thickness of the fur is due to the dense fat present beneath and this fat is meant for providing insulation against cold to the animal.

Originally the raccoons are found in the deciduous and mixed forests. However this animal has adapted to other habitats and environments as well. Due to this adaptability, these animals have also established their habitats in the coastal areas and marshy places, mountainous areas and even near the domestic populations. There these animals are regarded by the residents as pests because they not only cause damage to infrastructure but also spread infestations. Other than North America, the raccoons are now also found in other continents of the world like Europe, Caucasia and Asian countries like Japan.

Raccoons are usually omnivores and they feed on both the insects and invertebrates as well as on the plant materials. Usually the raccoons are nocturnal and they come out at night for hunting or feeding. Among the whole diet of an average omnivore raccoon, Almost half ratio is found consisting of the invertebrate animals, about 30 percent on plants and approximately 27 percent of invertebrates.

Previously it was assumed about raccoons that they live alone. Later on certain evidences were found showing the gender specific social behavior of the raccoons. It has been observed that the females of the same tribe or area live in a common area. On the other hand the unrelated males live in the groups of up to four animals. This is done to maintain their posts so that they can define their territory against the foreign males during the breeding season.

Life Cycle
The total gestation period of a raccoon is about 65 days and they give birth to 2 to 5 young ones at a time in spring season. The young ones are nursed and reared by the mother till fall.

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