If you thought raccoons were omnipresent, you were right, at least partially. Raccoons are tenacious animals, and they have adapted extremely well to urbanization in North America. In fact, out here raccoons are more common in cities than in the country or the wild. What’s more, they eat just about anything and can live just about anywhere. Even in the wild, raccoons are equally at home in thick forests, wetlands, and grasslands. Raccoons can live almost anywhere because they are not fussy eaters. For instance, in the wild raccoons eat fish, frogs, varieties of other aquatic animals, mice, insects, eggs, fruits, berries, and plants. To be more precise, they eat what’s available.
Raccoons, moreover, are especially adept at thawing open their prey’s hiding spots; they are remarkably dexterous and possess strong front paws, which enable them to rummage efficiently. These qualities have enabled raccoons to thrive in urban areas, which, we must remember, is a nearly impossible feat for most other animals.
Their Original Habitat
Raccoons are known for their resilience and adaptability. They originally lived and thrived in deciduous and mixed forests in North America. However, they’ve gradually become adept at surviving in other, more harsher landscapes in the continent. Today, raccoons can be found even in Europe (including Russia, a country notorious for its harsh winters) and Japan. Interestingly, raccoons were introduced in these regions by humans during the mid-20th century. Raccoons also thrive in captivity; their life span increases rather dramatically: Some captive raccoons have been known to live well into their twentieth year, whereas raccoons in the wild have a life expectancy of only three years. Their foray into urban spaces is not without problems, however. Most raccoon deaths in urban areas, statistics show, are a result of road or automobile injuries. Hunting is another major cause. Humans, therefore, are responsible for a large number of raccoon deaths both in urban areas and in the wild. Nonetheless, raccoons continue to thrive: their numbers are on the rise, and the IUCN Red List Status puts them in the “Least Concern” category.
Some Interesting Facts
- Young raccoons are called “kits.”
- Most raccoons may not make good pets; even in captivity, raccoons tend to retain their wild instincts. Nonetheless, raccoons have been known to be extremely loving and attached as pets.
- What’s more, it is illegal in some states to keep raccoons as pets—mainly due to their vulnerability to rabies, their wild instincts, and the extent of care they require as pets.