Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are common throughout BC. The fur has a salt and pepper appearance with a black mask on a whitish face. They are medium sized mammals weighing 5 – 14 kg and 65 – 100 cm long, including a long bushy tail with four to seven black rings.
The tracks of the Raccoon are very distinctive. The hind foot is long, narrow, and rests flat on the ground like those of a bear. The front paw is hand-like, with toes that are long and well separated. This permits the use of the front paw with almost the facility of a monkey's hands.
Raccoons breed mainly in February and March, but mating may occur from December through June. The gestation period is about two months with most litters born in April or May. However, some late breeding females may not give birth until June, July, or August.
Raccoons produce one litter per year. The average litter size is three to four young. The offspring are weaned between two and four months of age and usually stay with the mother until the following spring. Yearling females do not always breed but adult females normally breed every year, especially if food is plentiful.
The diet of the Raccoon is extremely diverse. They will eat fruit, berries, grain, eggs, young rodents and birds, vegetables, nuts, mollusks, fish, insects, rodents, carrion, pet food and garbage. Contrary to popular myth, Raccoons do not always wash their food before eating, although they frequently play with their food in water.
Raccoons are nocturnal or night-time active animals. Urban Raccoon populations are frequently underestimated because people seldom see them traveling during the day. They are also territorial, particularly the males. Adult males may occupy areas of 8 – 52 km2; females have a much smaller territory of 3 – 16 km2. Raccoons den up in hollow trees, drain pipes, homes and buildings, under decks and storage buildings, brush piles and abandoned burrows.