Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Raccoons are known for surviving in city and country alike and state officials fear it will introduce a new strain of rabies from Ohio. In Michigan, officials say the raccoon’s statewide population is several million and threatens humans and animals with rabies and other diseases.
Raccoons are known to raid garbage and live inside attics, chimneys, and garages. They are excellent climbers and once a raccoon is on a roof, it can rip open vents or find construction gaps in soffits, which will lead the raccoon to the attic. When you have a raccoon problem in attics or walls, insulation will be damaged and become contaminated with urine and feces.
Raccoons are extremely adaptable, being found in many kinds of habitats and easily living near humans. They require ready access to water. Raccoons prefer to live in moist woodland areas. However, they can also be found in farmlands, suburban, and urban areas. Raccoons prefer to build dens in trees, but may also use woodchuck burrows, caves, mines, deserted buildings, barns, garages, rain sewers, or houses. Raccoons can live in a wide variety of habitats from warm, tropical areas to cold grasslands.
The most distinguishable characteristics of the raccoon are its black mask across the eyes and bushy tail with anywhere from four to ten black rings. The forepaws resemble slender human hands and make the raccoon unusually dexterous. Both their forepaws and hindpaws have five toes. Coloration varies with habitat, but tends to range from grey to reddish brown to buff. Raccoons are stocky in build and generally weigh from six to seven kilograms. Weight varies with habitat and region, though, and can range from 1.8 to 10.4kg. Raccoons are capable of acheiving body masses made up of 50% body fat, but it is mostly raccoons in the northern parts of the range that become this fat. Males are usually heavier than females by 10 to 30%. Body length ranges from 603 to 950 mm. Their tails comprise about 42% to 52% of their length, from 192 to 405 mm.
Raccoons are nocturnal and seldom active in the daytime. During extremely cold, snowy periods raccoons have been observed sleeping for long periods at a time, but do not hibernate.
Their common gait is a shuffle like walk, however, they are able to reach speeds of 15 miles per hour on the ground. Raccoons climb with great agility and are not bothered by a drop of 35 to 40 feet. As well as being excellent climbers, raccoons are strong swimmers, although they may be reluctant to do so. Raccoons don’t travel any farther than necessary; they travel only far enough to meet the demands of their appetites.
Raccoons are a nuisance to farmers. They can cause damage to orchards, vineyards, melon patches, cornfields, peanut fields, and chicken yards. Their habit of moving on to the next ear of corn before finishing the first makes them especially damaging to fields of both sweet corn and field corn. Raccoons also carry sylvatic plague, rabies, and other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals.