Turkey Leg

Porch Friends – North American Raccoon

All information from the surprisingly fascinating wikipedia article on raccoons.

The word “raccoon” was adopted into English from the native Powhatan term, as used in the Virginia Colony. It was recorded on Captain John Smith’s list of Powhatan words as aroughcun, and on that of William Strachey as arathkone. It has also been identified as a Proto-Algonquian root *ahrah-koon-em, meaning “[the] one who rubs, scrubs and scratches with its hands”.

Among others, the Dakota Sioux believed the raccoon had natural spirit powers, since its mask resembled the facial paintings, two-fingered swashes of black and white, used during rituals to connect to spirit beings. The Aztecs linked supernatural abilities especially to females, whose commitment to their young was associated with the role of wise women in the tribal society.


In a study by the ethologist H. B. Davis in 1908, raccoons were able to open 11 of 13 complex locks in less than 10 tries and had no problems repeating the action when the locks were rearranged or turned upside down. … Studies in 1963, 1973, 1975 and 1992 concentrated on raccoon memory showed they can remember the solutions to tasks for up to three years. 

Captive raccoons douse their food more frequently when a watering hole with a layout similar to a stream is not farther away than 3 m (10 ft). The widely accepted theory is that dousing is a vacuum activity imitating foraging at shores for aquatic foods. This is supported by the observation that such foods are doused more frequently. 

For climbing down a tree headfirst—an unusual ability for a mammal of its size—a raccoon rotates its hind feet so they are pointing backwards. Raccoons have a dual cooling system to regulate their temperature; that is, they are able to both sweat and pant for heat dissipation… The penis bone of males is about 10 cm (4 in) long and strongly bent at the front end and is often used by biologists to classify reproductive status of specimens. 

On April 12, 1934, two pairs of pet raccoons were released into the German countryside at the Edersee reservoir in the north of Hesse by forest superintendent Wilhelm Freiherr Sittich von Berlepsch, upon request of their owner, the poultry farmer Rolf Haag. He released them two weeks before receiving permission from the Prussian hunting office to “enrich the fauna”… A second population was established in East Germany in 1945 when 25 raccoons escaped from a fur farm at Wolfshagen east of Berlin after an air strike. The two populations are parasitologically distinguishable: 70% of the raccoons of the Hessian population are infected with the roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, but none of the Brandenburgian population has the parasite. The estimated number of raccoons was 285 animals in the Hessian region in 1956, over 20,000 animals in the Hessian region in 1970 and between 200,000 and 400,000 animals in the whole of Germany in 2008.

While primarily hunted for their fur, raccoons were also a source of food for Native Americans and Americans and barbecued raccoon was a traditional food on American farms. It was often a festive meal. Raccoon was eaten by American slaves at Christmas, but it was not necessarily a dish of the poor or rural; in San Francisco’s The Golden Era of December 21, 1856, raccoon is among the specialties advertised for the holiday, and US President Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoon Rebecca was originally sent to be served at the White House Thanksgiving Dinner… its culinary use is mainly identified with certain regions of the American South like Arkansas where the Gillett Coon Supper is an important political event.

Copulation, including foreplay, can last over an hour and is repeated over several nights. The weaker members of a male social group also are assumed to get the opportunity to mate, since the stronger ones cannot mate with all available females. In a study in southern Texas during the mating seasons from 1990 to 1992, about one third of all females mated with more than one male… After usually 63 to 65 days of gestation (although anywhere from 54 to 70 days is possible), a litter of typically two to five young is born.