State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Procyon lotor (Linnaeus, 1758)

  • Ursus lotor Linnaeus, 1758
  • Procyon insularis Merriam, 1898
  • Procyon maynardi Bangs, 1898
  • Procyon minor Miller, 1911
  • Procyon gloveralleni Nelson & Goldman, 1930
Vernacular Name
Northern Raccoon
Conservation status
No status defined
Value of species
Includes the Caribbean introduced populations of gloveralleni, minor, and maynardi after Helgen and Wilson (2003); includes insularis after Helgen and Wilson (2005). Originally a North and Central American species, occurring from the Canadian prairies southwards across the United States of America (except for parts of the Rocky Mountains and the deserts) through all Central America down to northern Panama (Helgen and Wilson 2003, 2005). Southern limits for the species are still not clear with the current most comprehensive revision considering Panama as the limit (Helgen and Wilson 2003, 2005). More recent craniometric evidence suggests is also present in Colombia (Marín et al. 2012), but there has been no comparison directly with North American individuals, so some uncertainty persists (González-Maya et al. 2011). Introductions since the 1930s of animals into Germany, the Russian Federation, and many subsequent escapes by farmed animals in various parts of Europe, have resulted in expanding European and Central Asian populations of this species (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999, Winter 2006, Beltrán-Beck et al. 2012, García et al. 2012, M. Winter pers. comm. 2015). Individuals have also been recorded from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and U.K. although populations are yet to be established in these countries (M. Winter pers. comm. 2015). It has also been introduced to Japan where it is expanding rapidly (Ikeda et al. 2004). The Northern Raccoon is generally quite common and very adaptable to the human environment and populations are likely to be increasing in size in suburban areas (Gehrt 2004). This species is very adaptable and is found almost anywhere water is available, along streams and shorelines. Dens under logs or rock, in tree hole, ground burrow, or in bank den (Armstrong 1975). In some areas it has adapted to city life and is commensal with the human population. However, raccoons are most abundant in hardwood swamps, mangroves, flood forests, and marshes. Average home range is 90-150 acres (Baker 1983). Population density was reported as one individual per 10-16 acres by Baker (1983). Typically solitary except female with young. This raccoon is nocturnal, foraging either singly or in groups. It is an opportunistic omnivore, eating fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, birds' eggs and nestlings, reptile eggs, frogs, fishes, aquatic invertebrates, worms, and garbage. It obtains most food on or near ground near water.
Book reference

Taxonomic branch