A ubiquitous species throughout the forests of North America, Raccoons are easy to identify due to their uniform coloring and distinctive markings. Their fur is reddish brown along the upper body and a lighter gray underneath. Black coloration around the eyes can give the impression that the animal is wearing a mask. (Due to this mask-like feature and the animal’s tendency to scavenge for food, raccoons are often erroneously depicted as thieves or bandits in popular culture.) The raccoon’s bushy tail is its most distinctive feature with its four to six alternating rings in black, brown or brownish-gray.
The animal is largely sedentary and may sleep for several consecutive days during cold weather although they do not hibernate. As a general rule, these animals are solitary and prefer to stay in a small geographical area and may only go wandering when in search of a mate. They are most active at night when they will forage for food. They are omnivorous and will often seek out human habitations in order to procure an easy meal by raiding trash cans or gardens. As a result, many people consider them a “nuisance animal.”
Historically, Raccoons were confined to the deciduous and mixed forests of North America. But their adaptability, especially in human-occupied areas, has allowed them to expand into mountainous, coastal and urban areas. They prefer areas with lots of trees, which they use to escape danger, provide shelter and forage for food.