This nocturnal and primarily solitary mammal spends its days sleeping in hollow trees, wedged between branches or, especially in cold weather, in a burrow.

An omnivore, it eats both plant parts and animals, such as fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.

It was once thought that raccoons washed their food — the scientific name lotor means "washer."

It is now known that they are pulling food apart to remove inedible bits.

The common name derives from the Algonquin word aroughcoune, meaning "he scratches with his hands."

Animal Facts

Name: Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Family: Procyonidae (Raccoons and Relatives)

Range: Southern Canada to Mexico and Panama; introduced in Asia and Europe

Habitat: Forest to city, wherever water is available

Diet: Fruits, nuts, crops, crayfish, insects, rodents, frogs, bird eggs, trash, and carrion

Head and Body Length: 16 to 24 inches (41 to 60 cm)

Tail Length: 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm)

Shoulder Height: 9 to 12 inches (22 to 30 cm)

Weight: 15 to 44 pounds (7 to 20 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating depends on locale, usually January to May; gestation 60 to 73 days, two to seven young born

Description: Gray to reddish-brown to buff fur; black eye patches; small eyes; short, rounded ears; slender forepaws; faint, dark rings on bushy tail

Conservation Status: Common