- Size: About 40 to 70 cm long, plus a tail of 20 to 40 cm
- Color: Silvery gray to dark brown with a distinctive black mask around the eyes
- Appearance: Robust body, short legs, bushy tail with black and white rings
- Attractions: Easily accessible food (garbage, compost, pet food), shelters such as attics, sheds, chimneys
Appearance of Raccoons
Raccoons are easily recognizable by their distinctive appearance. They have thick fur, typically gray with shades of brown. Their most notable feature is the black “mask” around their eyes, contrasting with their whitish face. Their ears are also black and medium-sized. These mammals have a robust body and a bushy tail, striped alternately black and white. Raccoon paws are notable for their “hands” with five fingers, allowing them to grasp and manipulate their environment with astonishing dexterity.
Habitat in Quebec
In Quebec, raccoons are commonly found in various habitats. They prefer wooded areas near water, such as riparian forests, for their abundance of food and shelter. However, they have adapted well to urban and suburban environments, where they can often be found rummaging through trash for food. Raccoons typically use tree hollows, abandoned burrows, or even attics and basements to nest and raise their young.
Raccoon behavior is marked by adaptability and intelligence. They are primarily nocturnal animals, spending most of the day resting in their shelters. Their diet is omnivorous and opportunistic, including fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, and even human waste. Raccoons are also known for their “washing” behavior of food, though this action is more a way of using their tactile senses to explore objects. They are also known for their curiosity and problem-solving skills, which allows them to adapt easily to changing environments.
Distinguishing Raccoons from Other Species
Raccoons and skunks can be easily differentiated by their appearance and behavior. Skunks are recognized for their distinctive white stripes on primarily black fur, while raccoons have a black mask and a striped tail. In terms of droppings, skunk droppings are generally smaller and often contain remnants of insects and small rodents, whereas raccoon droppings are larger and can contain a variety of food waste.
Groundhogs are distinguished from raccoons by their more massive body and shorter legs. They have a uniform brown fur, without the distinctive patterns of raccoons. Their droppings are smaller and cylindrical, differing from raccoon droppings which are larger, irregular, and contain varied remains from their omnivorous diet.