Raccoon, Procyon lotor
The Raccoon is a familiar masked, nocturnal mammal is found state-wide in Tennessee.
Description: A medium-sized, stocky mammal with a distinctive black mask, outlined in white, over the eyes. Another distinguishing feature is the bushy tail with 4 to 7 alternating rings of black and yellowish-gray, which is about half the total body length. Fur color is a grizzled brown and black with grayish below. The snout is pointed, but the head widens towards the body. The front feet are slender and delicate, and used to bring food to their mouth.
Length: 26 - 38 inches
Tail: 7.9 - 12 inches
Ears: 1.9 - 2.5 inches
Weight: 8 - 25 pounds
Similar Species: None.
Habitat: Raccoons are found in various rural and urban habitats, but are partial to hardwood swamps, marshes, and bottomland forests. Dens are usually located in hollow trees, caves, rocky ledges, old woodchuck burrows, squirrel nests, or abandoned farm buildings.
Diet: They have an omnivorous diet eating both plants and animals. Plant foods can include persimmons, grapes, blackberries, acorns, pecans, grasses, and corn. The animal material includes insects, small rodents, crayfish, frogs, snakes, fish, squirrels, rabbits, and eggs and young of birds.
Breeding information: The peak of the breeding season is in February, but may last into the spring. Females produce a single litter per year with 1-7 (average 3-4) young. The gestation period is 63 days. Newborn Raccoons are blind, but have fur and the mask is visible, or soon will be. At 8-10 weeks they begin to eat solid foods and forage outside the den with their mother.
Status in Tennessee: Raccoons are a hunted species in Tennessee. They may be abundant in many areas of the state.
•The Raccoon's Latin name lotor means "a washer," referring to the habit of washing their food before they eat it.
•Raccoons can sleep for days or weeks, but are not true hibernators.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Along wooded streams.