2013 Envirothon

Where are raccoons found?
woodlands; farms; suburban neighborhoods
always near water
How do raccoons walk?
amble like a bear
Is a raccoon a plantigrade?
What is a plantigrade?
Yes, a raccoon is a plantigrade; this means they can walk partly or wholly on the soles of their feet with the heel touching the ground
Can raccoons stand on their hind legs?
yes
Are raccoons fast runners?
no
What happens when raccoons are confronted?
they put up a fierce fight; especially females with young
How strong of a swimmer are raccoons?
very; so strong they have drowned dogs in the water
What noises do raccoons make?
barks, hisses, wails; piercing scream when alarmed
Describe a raccoon’s senses.
Raccoons can see, hear and smell very well; acute sense of touch, allowing them to catch fish and other small quick prey; long sharp claws help them grasp slippery prey
Why do raccoons seem to “wash” their food?
No one knows; maybe to decide if they will keep the prey they just grabbed
What do raccoons need to live comfortably?
they prefer woodlands that offer plenty of den sites; hardwoods are favored over coniferous forests because of the fruits and nuts from trees; they also need the cavities and hollow limbs for shelters
What do raccoons hunt?
Water is essential for them for hunting opportunities; crayfish, minnows, aquatic insects
Are raccoons carnivores, or omnivores?
Omnivores
What do raccoons eat that are not caught in water?
wild cherries and grapes; berries; persimmons; apples; beechnuts; corn; acorns; melons; grass; leaves; worms; crickets; grasshoppers; beetle grubs; frogs;mice; carrion; eggs. They also raid fields, gardens and trash
Why is variety in habitat important?
Trees of different types and ages and low brush and grassy openings provide food throughout the year
What benefits raccoons?
management plans that improve habitat for other animals like turkeys, squirrels, and deer; and beaver dams that provide habitat for aquatic creatures raccoons like to eat
What type of species are raccoons?
common, found state-wide in PA
Where do raccoons spend the day?
holed up in a tree cavity; sunning while stretched out on horizontal limbs
What do raccoons do during the night?
begin hunting on the ground, or eat eggs or hatchlings
Describe the feeding range/dens.
One main den with others scattered around the feeding range which is one mile in diameter
Describe an ideal den.
hollow in a large tree trunk or limb is ideal; but raccoons will also use old groundhog burrows, caves, rock crevices or abandoned farm buildings
Are raccoons true hibernators?
No; they den up and sleep through much of the winter when air temperature falls below 25*
How do raccoons survive the winter?
They eat so much during the summer and fall they can sustain themselves; they wake and search for food during the warm spells
Why is hunting so important in the spring?
Much of a raccoon’s body fat is gone; raccoons are thinner
When do raccoons breed?
January or February
Describe young raccoons.
~Born in March and April
~litter of 3-5
~Cubs weigh about 3 ounces at birth
~Covered with yellow-gray hair and tails faintly banded
~eyes open after 19 days
When do young raccoons accompany females on feeding forays?
4 weeks
When can raccoons be on their own?
three to four months old, cubs are large and independent enough to be on their own
Do male raccoons help raise the young?
Sometimes, but they leave once young are mature
What is rabies?
a serious disease that attacks the nervous system; caused by a virus
What type of animal can get rabies?
only mammals
Do birds, snakes and fish get rabies?
no, only mammals
How is rabies spread?
through saliva, usually through a bite; blood does not spread rabies
How do you know if an animal has rabies?
they act differently; wild animals move slowly and act tame; tame animals may try to bite; general illness; problems swallowing; drooling
What should you do if you are bitten?
rabies can be prevented by immediate cleansing of the wound and getting a series of rabies shots in your arm; see a doctor right away
What is the best way to avoid rabies?
avoid contact with wild animals; vaccinate pets and livestock; get rid any pet dishes outside
Why should you get rid of outside pet dishes?
raccoons may think of pet food as a food source and this puts them in close contact with people and pets; this eliminates their fear of people, which is dangerous should they become rabid.