11 Fun Raccoon Facts

In order to know my new neighbor a bit better (before he gets evicted), I decided to learn something about raccoons. Here are the fruits of my labors.

Photo by Tobias Mercer.

Photo by Tobias Mercer.

11 Fun Raccoon Facts

  1. The raccoon’s scientific name, Procyon lotor, means “washer dog” although it is a closer relative to the bear family.
  2. Raccoons have a large array of vocalizations. Scientists have determined that they can make over 51 different sounds! They purr, whistle, growl, hiss, scream and even whinny.
  3. Raccoons have been kept as pets (President Coolidge and his wife had one named Rebecca), and while young, seem happy to be in human company. As they mature, especially during mating season, they can become increasingly destructive and aggressive.
  4. A raccoon’s hands are so nimble they can unlace a shoe, unlatch a cage and deftly retrieve coins as thin as dimes from your shirt pocket.
  5. In spring, female raccoons give birth to three or four young. The baby raccoon’s eyes do not open until 20 days or so after birth. It won’t have rings on its tail, or a mask around its eyes, until it’s older. Baby raccoons stay in the den for eight to ten weeks. The mother raccoon is very protective of her babies—she won’t even let the father near them.
  6. On the mammal IQ scale raccoons rank higher than cats and just below monkeys.
  7. Christopher Columbus is the first individual we know of to have written about the species.
  8. The raccoon has the ability to rotate their hind feet a full 180 degrees to allow for their ability to climb down from trees head first.
  9. The word raccoon, derived from the Algonquin Indian word “arakun” means “he scratches with hands”.
  10. Raccoons are more likely to be killed by an automobile than by another predator.
  11. A raccoon can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.

Thanks for reading!