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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Procyon
Species: Procyon lotor
Meaning of name:
Procyon (pro = before + cyon = dog)
lotor (washer)



The mask this little bandit wears is its most outstanding feature. The mask extends across the cheeks, eyes and nose. There is also pale grey bars above and below the large eyes to complete the "mask" affect. The raccoon has a long fine coat and a busy tail with 4 to 7 prominent dark rings. The general colour is a grizzled gray to a blackish color, with the sides greyer than the back. The nape of the neck can be a rusty or rufous colour and the underparts brownish with a whitish wash. The ears are edged with white or grayish hairs.


This intelligent omnivore will eat almost anything edible including fruits, insects, frogs, fish, small mammals and birds, including their eggs. The raccoon uses its forepaws and its great manual dexterity to manipulate even the most complex food sources, including garbage cans, into its diet. In fact raccoons can and do live well in close contact with humans in urban areas. In Alberta the numbers of raccoon in cities are not large enough to be considered a problem. It seems that while raccoons can be found throughout the province, our cold winters are the biggest controling factor for Alberta raccoon populations. For the most part raccoons will den near water in hollow trees, rock cavities, abandoned animal burrows or any other crevice that will provide some protection. The major predators include raptors like the great horned owl and mammals such as bobcats, foxes, coyotes.or fishers. Raccoons have one litter a year, from 1 to 7 but usually 3 or 4 offspring. The young are born in the summer and will stay with the mother during the winter until the next summer. The male raccoon provides no parental care and will be aggressively chased from the den area by the female.

© 2001 University of Alberta Museum of Zoology