Our Masked Mammals

The raccoon (Procyon lotor) has grayish brown fur, a black “mask” and a bushy ringed tail. It’s dexterous, intelligent and shy by nature, although individuals can become bold when near humans.

Raccoons are considered “opportunistic feeders,” which means they’ll eat just about anything they can find, including insects, crayfish, fish, turtles, mice, young birds, eggs, acorns, nuts, fruits and berries, garbage, and pet food.

They're nocturnal and prefer woodlands near water but are common in cities and suburbs that provide adequate food and shelter. They normally den in hollow trees or abandoned woodchuck burrows but also use chimneys, attics, or the space under garages, decks and porches. Communal dens are common, but only one adult male is usually present. They do not hibernate but may stay in their dens for long periods of time, especially in bad weather.

Raccoons mate between January and March and have one litter of three to four young. The young leave the den after two or three months but may stay near the female until the next spring.