Physical Characteristics of Raccoons

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Raccoons are warm-blooded, nocturnal creatures found in parts of Canada, throughout the United States and even into areas of South America. They can live alongside humans in cities, suburbs and farmland, as well as farther away in forests and marshes. Though sometimes confused with opossums and skunks, raccoons have several easily identifiable characteristics.

Prominent Traits

The raccoon got his reputation as a bandit from the black coloring across the area surrounding his small, black eyes. This resembles the masks criminals would wear to hide their identities. Another raccoon characteristic is his large, bushy tail. Depending on his size, a racoon's tail can feature four to 10 black rings.

Size

A raccoon's weight varies depending on the region. He can be slim in warmer climates at 4 pounds, or weigh 23 pounds in cooler regions, with up to 50 percent body fat. From nose to tail, raccoons can measure 23 to 37 inches in length. Males are typically larger than females.

Additional Appearances

Raccoons sport grey or brown fur over the majority of their bodies. White areas appear around the brow and nose area as well as along the edge of rounded ears. Up close, you may notice a stripe running from the brow to the snout-like nose, which is surrounded with white whiskers.

Details

Though the raccoon walks around on all fours with a hunched lower back, he can stand up on his hind legs. His small, flexible and dexterous front paws with long fingers resemble a furry human hand. They allow him to climb, hold or pry things open, further pushing the bandit reputation as he can open garbage can lids and scale fences to reach food. The teeth of the raccoon are short and sharp with the exception of two long fangs on both the top and bottom rows. These make it ideal for this omnivore to eat a variety of prey and vegetation.

Photo Credits

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Author

Pam Smith has been writing since 2005. In addition to her work for Demand Media, her articles have been published online at CBS Local. She also wrote for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book's Literary Map while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the Pennsylvania State University. She is currently an editorial assistant for Circulation Research.