By Vern and Lori Gieger
is no doubt about it! Baby raccoons are among the most adorable wild
animals. With their unmistakable bandit mask and bushy,
ringed tail they are easily identified.
Raccoons are among the most intelligent
animals, sometimes too smart for their own good. They are noted for
their inquisitive curiosity. While it does get them into trouble, its
their nature to touch and investigate everything they come in contact
with. Being true to their nature, they seldom pass up the opportunity
to investigate an interesting smell or crevice. A raccoons nimble
fingers can easily turn doorknobs and even open refrigerators. Anything
that can be opened, will be. Raccoons have learned to benefit from man
to a degree; our trash is a treasure pile for them. In raccoon
country, putting a full trash can out at night is like taking
out a full-page ad. To a raccoon, it just has to be investigated. Who
can blame them? A very tempting menu, not to mention an array of interesting
objects just begging for a closer inspection.
Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic
eaters enjoying a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as well as crayfish,
insects, birds, rodents, fish, etc. The myth that they wash their food
is just that, theyre not really washing their food
but rather they are kneading and tearing at it, feeling for inedible
parts that should be discarded. However, this does not work well with
sugar cubes or cotton candy! Hygienically speaking, they are very clean.
However, give them a bowl of water and a bowl of food, and they will
create a mess of epic proportions!
They are stocky-bodied, usually solitary,
and nocturnal mammals of the genus Procyon in the family Procyonidae.
(No, I cant pronounce that, either.) Adult raccoons are 9"
to 12" high at the shoulders, 18" to 26" long, plus a
9" to 12" tail. Its weight is usually between 16 and 22 lbs.,
though occasionally one may exceed 30 lbs. They are great climbers and
have strong feet, but they are flat-footed like humans and bears and
therefore are slow runners. While raccoons will not attack unprovoked,
if they are cornered and feel threatened, they are a formidable opponent.
Raccoons are found primarily along streams
and lakes near wooded areas. However, they are opportunists and may
inhabit urban and recreational areas. Raccoons are not particular about
den sites and may use tree hollows, hollow logs, caves, rock crevices,
holes in the ground, and sometimes even storm sewers. They do not dig
their own burrows; they prefer to let someone else do the
While raccoons are quite willing to peacefully
co-exist with man, man cannot say the same. Learning to live in harmony
with wildlife takes more work and patience on our part than theirs.
We must learn to appreciate them for what they are, and how they do
benefit us. By understanding them, we better understand the world around
us. For those of us who have pets, how many times have they made you
laugh until your sides hurt? Or, on the other hand, made you cry? Getting
to really know, appreciate, and love wildlife brings about the same
emotions. Like children, animals can make us angry or fill our hearts
with joy, make us laugh, or make us cry, but where would we be without
If you encounter a wild animal that needs
help, call L.W.R.R. 765-4916 (yep, all types of snakes, too).