Raccoon
 

Procyon lotor

   
  1 15/16 - 4 in. L x 1 7/16 - 2 15/16 in. W 1 9/16 in. - 3 1/8 in. L x 1 9/16 - 2 7/8 in. W  
 

LH

RF

 
 

Raccoon Tracks

 
       
 

(To see an animation of how this pattern is made, click on the picture.)

 
       
       
       
       

 

Natural History of Raccoons

Raccoon in tree. Phpto by Kim A. Cabrera 2002

Raccoons are familiar animals with masked faces and ringed tails. They have five toes on both the front and hind feet. Their long, dexterous fingers enable them to open latches, untie knots, turn doorknobs, and open jars. Their prints look like tiny human baby handprints and footprints.

They are primarily nocturnal and thrive in many cities as well as wilderness areas. In fact, the densest population of raccoons in New York is in New York City. They are very intelligent and adaptable animals.

 

Raccoon trail in sand, showing perfect gait. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

They are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including frogs, fish, amphibians, shellfish, insects, birds, eggs, mice, carrion, berries, nuts, vegetation, salamanders, insects, berries, corn, cat food, and human garbage.

Their tracks are commonly found near water. Where you find water, you find mud, which is an excellent medium for studying tracks. The hind feet in the picture on the left sunk deeper into the mud due to the heavier hind end of the raccoon’s body. It is widely believed that raccoons always "wash" their food. This is not true. They exhibit a behavior called "dabbling" in which they dunk their food in water. This helps enhance their sense of touch and helps them find food underwater by feeling with their sensitive fingers. It also enables them to sort out items that are not edible.

During cold weather, raccoons will sleep for several days, but do not hibernate.

Raccoon scat is tubular and blunt on the ends.

WARNING: Raccoon scat may contain the eggs of raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, which can be fatal to humans, so handling it is not advisable. If you do find a raccoon latrine in your attic or near your home, get professional help with the cleanup. If you clean it up yourself, you risk exposing yourself to the disease. Baylisascaris procyonis "is a well-known cause of visceral, ocular, and neural larva migrans in humans and other animals."**

Three to six young are born in a hollow tree den in April or May. Their eyes open at three weeks. They remain in the den for two months. Young stay with the mother until the following spring.

Raccoons are well known for their curiosity and mischievousness.  

Raccoon kit. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This raccoon kit is only a few weeks old. It became separated from its mother when I walked out a door and startled it. I shooed it back toward her.

 

Raccoon kit. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Raccoon kit. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Photos of the raccoon kit that got separated from its family. I snapped these photos before shooing it back toward them.

 

Left front track of a raccoon. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Left front track of a raccoon on a mud flat next to a river.

Left hind track of a raccoon. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Left hind track of a raccoon on a mud flat next to a river.

 

Raccoon with food in her paws. Phoyo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Raccoon near an outdoor deck. A bit of food is gripped in her paws.
Raccoons near my porch. Phoyo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005. Raccoons near my porch. Phoyo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

A pair of raccoons who visited me. They were in search of food, of course.

 

Right hind track of a raccoon in mud. The hind feet have a longer heel. It does not always make an imprint though.

 

Raccoon track from hind foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Perfect hind track of a raccoon in mud. This one shows very complete details, including some claw marks. Claw marks don't show in all tracks.

 

Right front track of a raccoon. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A track from the right front foot of a raccoon.

 

Raccoon track from left front paw. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The left front pawprint of a raccoon. This print lacks claw marks, which do not always show up in the tracks.

Raccoon track from left hind foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A nice left hind footprint in muddy sand. There are few claw marks, even though the coon sunk into the sand a bit.

Raccoon track pair. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A very nice set of raccoon tracks on a mud flat. This is a perfect location to find their tracks, as they are generally near water, but not always.

Raccoon track pair. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A perfect set of raccoon tracks. The front print shows the claw marks.

 
raccoon and striped skunk tracks
Perfect raccoon track with a right front striped skunk track.
 
raccoon track on table
Raccoon track made by dirt deposited on a wet table surface following rain. Left hind foot.
 
 
raccoon trails in sand
Trails of several raccoons in sand on river bar
 

Raccoon gait pattern. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A trail along the edge of a river. This is the typical raccoon gait pattern. Hind and front paws are placed next to each other.
 

Raccoon trail pattern. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Another nice trail showing the raccoon's typical gait. Hind track is next to front track.

 Raccoon, killdeer, and gray fox tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This muddy river bank yielded many fine tracks, such as these raccoon, gray fox, spotted sandpiper, and killdeer prints. The gray fox traveled from right to left. The raccoon went from bottom to top. The killdeer and sandpiper meandered all over.

Raccoon trail pattern in sand.  Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Another good raccoon gait pattern, in wet sand.

 

raccoon scat

The photo above shows typical raccoon scat. Droppings are often left in "latrines" which the raccoon will repeatedly visit. This may be a way of staking out a territory.
 

Raccoon scat. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

Another raccoon scat. This one has some berry material in it. It was found among gravelly rocks on a river bank.

 

Raccoon and gray fox latrine. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 1999.

Latrine on a water meter cover used by raccoon and gray fox. This latrine is near a food source - a dumpster behind a cafeteria at a school.

 

Raccoon scats in latrine. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 1999.

Close up of the raccoon scats deposited in the latrine. Berry seeds from nearby blackberry plants are evident.

 

Raccoon scat composed of berries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Raccoon scat composed of berry seeds. The purple color is due to the color of the blackberries the animal had been eating.
 

Raccoon scat near a campground. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005

Raccoon scat on a bridge just outside a campground. This one contains larger seeds.
 

Tracks of multiple animals. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The tracks of a raccoon, gray fox, and opossum cross this mud flat.

 

Raccoon track pair in mud. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Raccoon tracks in mud. Notice that the hind track is deeper because it supports more of the animal's weight.
 
Raccoon hind track in dust. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A nice raccoon hind track in dust. although faint, the details of the foot pads can be seen here.
 
Raccoon scat with berries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A raccoon scat composed of various berries.
 
Two raccoons watching me from a tree perch. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.
Two raccoons look at me from their perch in a tree.
 
Raccoon tracks on wood deck. Phoyo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Raccoon tracks on a wooden porch.
 
Raccoon tracks on wood deck. Phoyo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Set of raccoon tracks on my porch.
 
Raccoon tracks on wood deck. Phoyo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A nice front and hind raccoon track set on a wooden deck.
 
 
Raccoons as predators on domestic cats
WARNING: This page has graphic photos of cats killed by raccoons.
 
 
 

Personal Notes on Raccoons

Raccoon sniffs the air. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002. I have tracked many raccoons in different environments. They seem to be found almost everywhere I’ve lived, from the desert to the northern California redwood forests. The raccoon is one of my favorite animals.

The coon to the left was in a tree outside my house one night. He sniffed the air, hoping I would toss him something good to eat.

   

Here is a picture of a raccoon print on my truck window.

Raccoon print on my window.

 

I was camping at Patrick's Point State Park and had some food in the car. When I looked around the campsite in the morning, I found raccoon tracks all over my truck. This print was on a window. Looking for a way to get to the food, the 'coon had tried every window to see if any were open. Pretty smart raccoon!


 

I have had the opportunity to see them up close, feed them, and even touch a baby raccoon. They are intelligent animals and learn quickly how to get food from gullible humans such as myself. I lived near one family of raccoons who learned to come by my place just after dark for a handout. When I wasn’t waiting for them, they would scratch at the door and bang things around outside to get my attention. The following summer, a new raccoon family showed up. They must have been the children of one of the first raccoons because they knew how to get my attention when they wanted food. These were the raccoons who let me touch them. Maybe, after two years of getting handouts from me, they decided to trust me enough to let me get that close.

Treed raccoon. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.
Raccoon in a tree.

 


Here are some pictures of the raccoon family.

Shy raccoon at Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Raccoon raid at Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

The first raccoon was camera shy, but the others thought nothing of raiding my picnic table with me standing right by it. They are now the most famous raccoons in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. (Probably the only park raccoons on the Web.)

As I stated earlier, I have found raccoon tracks in numerous places. Two of the most unlikely places were the backyard of my home in Whittier, California, and in the riverbed of the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles. Both locations were far from the wilderness areas we usually expect to see these animals in.

coon

I was a young naturalist when I found the prints in Whittier. The raccoon had climbed over a cinderblock wall to get into our backyard. It left several good prints in the soft garden soil. It then went over to the plastic swimming pool cover, which was full of water because it was winter. In the dirt that had accumulated under the water on top of the pool cover, I found the trail of the raccoon. All five toes were clear. The animal had walked around, curiously investigating this new body of water. Perhaps it took a drink before it climbed back over the wall and went on its way. I had a hard time convincing people that those really were raccoon tracks. They couldn’t believe that such animals were found in the suburbs. They, like most of us, believe that animals live in the wilderness, that the city is too sterile for animals to live there. (As a side note, no one believed me when I saw a coyote run down the street in front of the house either. Neither did they believe that there were opossums climbing around on the telephone lines outside.)

But, the animals are there. If you know what their tracks look like and learn a little bit about their habits, you may be able to find them near your home too. In the bed of the Los Angeles River, with a busy freeway overpass humming with traffic above, train tracks along both banks, and cars and people everywhere, I found the tracks of a raccoon. The trail led to a culvert, which I assumed was the animal’s home. There were other raccoon tracks as well. These animals were living surrounded by humanity and civilization, yet their existence was secret. Why? Because most of us don’t know how to recognize the signs of their presence. Hopefully, this web page will help you learn how to recognize those signs.


Raccoon Track Gallery

I really like raccoon tracks. Those long fingers have led my raccoon neighbors into some pretty nifty adventures. They also seem to get the 'coons in trouble from time to time. (Like when they try to get into campers' food.) I included this gallery of raccoon tracks to show some of the neat features of their dexterous hands and feet.

Raccoon track pair.

Here is an example of the longer heel on the hind foot. (The one on the left.) Part of the front wrist left an imprint on the print on the right. The inner toe is a bit smaller than the others.
 

In this picture, the raccoon had been walking along the river bank. It decided to sit here for a moment before continuing on. The two longer prints in the upper right of the photo are the hind feet. The other two are the front feet. I didn't find any indication of why the 'coon decided to sit here. Maybe it just wanted to rest or check out the river, looking for something to eat.

Raccoon track.

 

The tips of the toes are bulbous. Claws may or may not leave marks.

 

The palms have an almost C-shaped appearance. The claw marks in this print appear almost round. It's easy to see the resemblance to human baby hands.

Typical raccoon front track.

Raccoon looking for food.

This raccoon visited my door in search of cat food.

The raccoon above walked off a short distance when I opened the door.

Raccoon running away.

Raccoon hind track.

A hind track that shows all the details.
This baby raccoon was with the bigger raccoon above. The youngster hid under the porch while the older raccoon checked out the situation.

Raccoon baby.

Raccoon bounding gait. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

In the photo at right, the raccoon is using a bounding gait. This is a faster gait than a walk. The raccoon may have been running to catch something or running from a predator. The direction of travel is toward the camera and there are two complete sets of all four footprints.
This little handprint was left on my wooden porch. The raccoon stepped in some water, then walked across the wood, leaving this nice imprint. It shows all five toes and nice details of the shape of the foot too.

Raccoon track on wood. Wet hand. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

Pair of raccoon tracks in mud. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

A pair of raccoon tracks in mud. The surrounding soil shows pock marks indicating that it has been rained on. The raccoon tracks do not have any marks in them, so they were made after it rained.
This raccoon track was found at dusk. I could not get a photo due to lack of light, and a flash photo would have completely washed out the details of the track. I took this photo using a flashlight held low to the ground and at the best angle to enhance the shadows in the track. This is a technique that trackers use to track at night. When you can control your light source, you can actually pick out tracks much easier.

Raccoon track photo taken at night using flashlight for illumination. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Raccoon tracks in typical gait pattern. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2001.

A raccoon trail along a muddy river bank. Notice that the prints are paired in the typical raccoon walking pattern.
   
Raccoon and feral cat tracks on a dune. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Raccoon and feral cat tracks on a coastal dune.
   
Raccoon kit pawprint. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
The track of a raccoon kit in mud.
 
Raccoon mother and three kits tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
These are the tracks of ther three raccoon kits and their mother. The mother raccoon's tracks are the larger ones starting at the top and ending at lower right. The three kits' tracks go from left to right.
 
Raccoon kit track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Raccoon kit track. Penny for scale is 3/4 inch across.
 
Raccoon footprint pair in sand. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A very perfect pair of raccoon tracks in wet sand along a river.
 
Raccoon trail on a sand dune. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Even if you couldn't see the details of individual prints, the trail pattern here is so distinctive it can only belong to a raccoon. This is the typical gait that results in sets of paired prints.
 
Raccoon kit tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Very nice set of young kit tracks in mud.
 
Raccoon kit tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
These beautiful kit tracks were next to the river.
 
 
Raccoon and gray fox scats. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A raccoon scat (A) and gray fox scats (B) on a deck. Raccoons and gray foxes will often both deposit their
scats in the same latrines, especially near food sources.
 
Reference for Raccoon Roundworm

**
Raccoon Roundworm Eggs near Homes and Risk for Larva Migrans Disease, California Communities
Gabriel P. Roussere, William J. Murray, Caroline B. Raudenbush, Michael J. Kutilek, Darcy J. Levee, and Kevin R. Kazacos
Emerging Infectious Diseases www.cdc.gov/eid Vol. 9, No. 12, December 2003

 


 

Find raccoon posters, greeting cards, postage stamps and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store online store at: www.dirt-time.com   Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

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Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!

 

 

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