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Latin name: Procyon lotor
English name: Racoon
French name: Raton laveur
Family: Small bears
Size: 40-60cm, max.22kg
The raccoon has a rounded body shape, the rear part appears slightly elevated. The pointed muzzle is black, a striking feature is the black and white banding on the face. The black face mask below and between the eyes is almost continuous, while it is clearly interrupted in the similar raccoon dog. The omnivorous bite is made up of 40 teeth. The gray-brown fur is variable, with four to six black rings often found on the tail. The ears are outlined in white. The four feet have five freely movable fingers or toes. The raccoon has an unusually good sense of touch. He examines objects of all kinds with his front paws, including under water. The protective cornea on the balls of the feet softens under water, which increases the tactile sensitivity considerably. But their hearing is also very sensitive, the raccoon can even hear insects and worms in the ground. The sole walker is not that fast in the race, but he can stand on his hind legs and climb trees. Swimming is also not a problem, a raccoon can withstand many hours in the water, as the thick fur provides good protection against the cold.
The raccoon was originally native to North and Central America. In Europe, the first specimens were exposed in Hessen around 1930. Since then it has expanded. Today the small bear lives in Germany and the neighboring countries in forests with small ponds or slowly flowing waters.
During the day the raccoon sleeps in trees or in tree hollows. Large, old trees such as oaks are preferred. Sometimes an old quarry, a crevice, a high seat or dense undergrowth is enough for him. When looking for fish and crabs, he feels the water with his paws and spreadable fingers. In the city at dusk he searches for garbage, grain products and fruits are eaten with pleasure. He does damage when he pokes at bird nests. Typical of a raccoon is washing food in the water when the food is found in or near the water. The animal got its name because of this behavior, which is easy to observe in captivity.
During the mating season in February or March, a male mates with several females. After nine weeks, it gives birth to two to four young. In individual cases it can also be seven. In the first month they are suckled by the mother, after five weeks they leave the sleeping cave for the first time. The young raccoons are accompanied and looked after by their mother until they are finally weaned after four months.
Raccoons do not hibernate in winter, when it is very cold they spend several weeks mostly asleep. Your heartbeat does not slow down; in the event of a malfunction, they become active immediately. Some young animals starve to death in particularly cold winters. Distemper, which occurs in dogs, martens and small bears, is a viral disease that threatens entire raccoon populations. Raccoons can live up to 16 years in captivity, but typically the average life expectancy in the wild is only a few years.
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