You must have seen raccoons in the attic or chimney or around garbage cans. They can be found anywhere, wherever food and water is available. Raccoons are medium-sized mammals which are commonly found in North America. Their size is similar to that of a normal dog. They look somewhat like a baby bear or badger. Their face resembles that of a fox, but their eating habits match that of a squirrel. The salt and pepper appearance of the fur, the black mask on a whitish face, and a ringed tail make them look cute.
Eating Habits of Raccoons
In the Wild
Raccoons found in areas like southern Florida are smaller than those found in the northern regions. Their average weight can be between 3.5 to 9 kg, depending upon the habitat. The lifespan of a wild raccoon is about 3 years while in captivity, it can be about 13 years. These animals are present in mountainous areas or coastal marshes. Studies show that they are omnivorous and eat both plants and animals. In the wild, they eat all types of berries, acorns, grapes, and other fruits. They also eat baby mice, baby birds and eggs of birds, or other animals. They can catch and eat frogs, crayfish, fiddler crabs, fish, and even some snakes or small reptiles. They are considered as 'pests' by farmers as they eat almost anything. With the availability of enough food, adult females usually breed every year.
They belong to the group of nocturnal animals. They are active throughout the night. Their food consists of various types of nuts, mollusks, fish, insects, rodents, carrion (dead and rotten animal body), etc. It is believed that they wash their food before eating because they have been noticed playing with their food in water. However, this is not true as they are also seen eating food when it is dirty.
In the City
As they enjoy easy accessibility to food, water, and shelter, they tend to dwell in urban areas and that is the reason you see them in your surroundings. Since human beings have encroached their territories and destroyed their habitat, they have adapted themselves to live in urban areas. These wandering creatures can open garbage cans, jars, and even latches. They can eat poultry, corn, garbage, pet food, almost anything that they come across. They can eat small animals like cats, birds, bird eggs, kittens, insects, frogs, fish, or grains. They are not good hunters and prefer to eat what is easily available or easy to catch. They can damage a lawn and turf while searching for worms or insects. Trapping raccoons becomes essential in such cases. They are good climbers and can easily seize, push, or pull objects by applying considerable force. They like to eat peanuts, sweets, fruits, bread, peanut butter, etc. They love cat and dog food too.
Wild raccoons can carry diseases and parasites. If threatened, they can bite human beings. People who have been bitten are likely to carry rabies. So, you should never touch or feed a wild raccoon. Children and pets are more at risk, so proper precautions should be taken. You should check whether the garbage can has a tight-fitting lid. You should always feed your pets during daylight as raccoons can be waiting around for the pet-food. Cats and small dogs should be kept inside. Leftovers should be removed immediately and even the water bowl should be emptied or taken inside. The lawn should be mowed properly and windfall fruit should be collected and taken inside immediately. As wild raccoons get attracted to food, food should never be left in the open.