E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Procyon lotor (Linnaeus, 1758)
Raccoon
Family: Procyonidae
Photo of species

© David Nagorsen  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #17083)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Procyon lotor in British Columbia
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Introduction


The Raccoon is probably one of the most common mammals we see in southern British Columbia. It is a medium-sized mammal 40 to 70 cm in length (Wikipedia 2011) with a distinctive black mask around the eyes, and four to seven dark rings around its tail. It has whitish patches across the forehead and 'eyebrows', and around its muzzle, a long and bushy tail, a black nose-pad, pointed snout, and black ears. Black and white guard hairs give it an overall grayish, grizzled appearance, although some individuals are more brownish in colour. A blonde colour variation is found in BC on islands near Nanaimo (Hatler et al. 2008). The forepaws are very hand-like. Body weight ranges from 3.5 to 9 kg, and males average 10-15% heavier than females (Hatler et al. 2008, Wikipedia 2011).

Two subspecies of Raccoon are recognized in BC, although genetic studies have not yet verified their validity: 1) Procyon lotor pacificus (southern BC) and 2) Procyon lotor vancouverensis (Vancouver Island and adjacent islands) (Hatler et al. 2008).

In 2011, predatory behaviour in a family of raccoons in Richmond, British Columbia was reported, with several incidents of killing and feeding on domestic cats and attacks on dogs.

Species Information

The Raccoon is probably one of the most common mammals we see in southern British Columbia. It is a medium-sized mammal 40 to 70 cm in length (Wikipedia 2011) with a distinctive black mask around the eyes, and four to seven dark rings around its tail. It has whitish patches across the forehead and 'eyebrows', and around its muzzle, a long and bushy tail, a black nose-pad, pointed snout, and black ears. Black and white guard hairs give it an overall grayish, grizzled appearance, although some individuals are more brownish in colour. A blonde colour variation is found in BC on islands near Nanaimo (Hatler et al. 2008). The forepaws are very hand-like. Body weight ranges from 3.5 to 9 kg, and males average 10-15% heavier than females (Hatler et al. 2008, Wikipedia 2011).

Biology


Life expectancy for wild raccoons is 1.8 to 3.1 years (Wikipedia 2011).
Reproduction

Litters with 1-4 kits are born in April and May in our region (Hatler et al. 2008). Kits are born without teeth and weigh about 75 grams. The young leave the den in June/July, and travel and forage with the mother until the fall and sometimes through the winter (Hatler et al. 2008).
Diet

The Raccoon is an omnivorous opportunist and a scavenger, so feeds on a wide variety of plants and animals. Food can include crabs, crayfish, fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates (including insects). They are significant predators of waterfowl and shorebird nests. Plant food includes corn, grains, nuts and berries. Raccoons also forage in human garbage and eat pet food, making them a significant urban pest.
Behaviour

Raccons are primarily nocturnal although they are sometimes observed during the day. Home range size is tied to food supply and richness, and they may have small ranges of less than 0.1 km2, or very large ranges of up to 50 km2 ,with males having the largest ranges (Hatler et al. 2008). Communal denning of family groups occurs in the winter (Hatler et al. 2008). Once thought to be primarily solitary, the evidence now supports some social interaction: "Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders." (Wikipedia 2011).

Habitat


The Raccoon is found in a variety of habitats across its range, but shows preference for forested areas near water. It is not found at high elevations or high latitude areas (Hatler et al. 2008). It also adapts well to suburban areas. Most dens, which provide protection against weather and predators, are found in hollow trees and logs, although they can occur in rock crevices, caves and debris or brush piles.

Distribution

Global Distribution

Globally the Raccoon is found in Canada, the United States and Central America (Canadian Wildlife Service 2011). The Raccoon has expanded its range in North America and is found in all 48 continental US states and in southern areas of all provinces that border the US plus Nova Scotia and PEI (Hatler et al. 2008). The Raccoon has been introduced in other regions and is now found in Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, France), the Caucasus region, the Soviet Union and Japan (Canadian Wildlife Service 2011, Wikipedia 2011).
Distribution in British Columbia

In British Colmbia, the Raccoon was formerly found primarily on Vancouver Island and the south mainland coast. It has expanded its range since the 1970's, however, and is now found in the Okanagan, in the Thompson River and Shuswap watersheds. Raccoons were introduced to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Hatler et al. 2008).

Taxonomy


Two subspecies of Raccoon are recognized in BC, although genetic studies have not yet verified their validity: 1) Procyon lotor pacificus (southern BC) and 2) Procyon lotor vancouverensis (Vancouver Island and adjacent islands) (Hatler et al. 2008).

Comments


In 2011, predatory behaviour in a family of raccoons in Richmond, British Columbia was reported, with several incidents of killing and feeding on domestic cats and attacks on dogs.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
COSEWIC
NativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Hatler, David F., David W. Nagorsen and Alison M. Beal. 2008. Carnivores of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum Handbook, Victoria.

General References


Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2022-01-16 4:34:30 PM]
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