Scientific Name: Procyon lotor
When is the best time to view raccoons in Monterey County and where is the best viewing?
Raccoons are nocturnal, so your best chance of seeing a raccoon is at night in woodlands, parks and residential areas. Raccoons are active year round but spend much of the winter asleep in a den. These masked bandits are a common sight in most neighborhoods as they are very adaptable at finding food and shelter. Raccoons can be found throughout the United States, including Monterey and Pacific Grove.
Raccoons are curious, persistent and will eat almost anything. The dexterity of their paws is matched only by their problem solving skills. Researchers have documented raccoons opening complex locks to locate food and remembering the solution to the problem for up to three years. Hence the ongoing battle when a raccoon decides to make your trashcan or fishpond part of its midnight snack routine. In their natural habitat, raccoons use their lightning-quick paws to grab aquatic creatures, mice and insects or raid nests for eggs. Hunting more in warmer months, raccoons build up their fat reserves to sustain themselves through winter.
Their scientific name translates to “before-dog washer”. These mammals sometimes wash, moisten or manipulate their food by rapidly dunking it in water before eating. Their front paws are extremely sensitive and the sense of touch is believed to increase when the outside layer of their paws soften in water.
Raccoons are also adaptable when choosing their denning site. Raccoons may inhabit a tree hole, fallen log or even your attic. Young raccoons will spend their first two months or so high in a tree hole. Then the mother and children will move to the ground so the cubs can begin to explore on their own.
Raccoon Fun Facts
- Christopher Columbus is the first known individual to write about raccoons
- Can survive a 35 foot drop from a tree
- Have excellent night vision
- Can run up to 15mph
- Will growl or snarl if feeling threatened
- Mothers will talk to her young by making squeaking noises
- Most raccoon species (the other six species) live on tropical islands
Habitat: Just about everywhere—forests, marshes, prairies and cities; Natural habitat: lower-elevation riparian areas; edges of forests and wetlands - forest streams, lakes, and ponds
Length: 26 – 38 inches; tail 7.5 – 16 inches
Weight: 12 – 35 pounds
Diet: clams, frogs, bird eggs, fish, mice, insects, stolen eggs, human trash, nestlings, berries, nuts, almost anything edible
Lifespan: Average 2-5 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity
Reproduction: Females have one to seven cubs, gestation is about 60 days