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Raccoons (Procyon lotor)
When the sun goes down and the stars come out, young raccoons head out from their dens in hollow trees, rock piles, and cozy attics to make mischief. Watch out! These bright, playful juveniles have good table manners and sometimes wash their food, but that doesn’t stop them from raiding bird feeders, prying into garbage cans, and sneaking through open doors. Like humans, they’ll eat anything. Fish, frogs, small mammals, and wild berries catch their interest, as do pizza, potato skins, and pretzels.
Young raccoons are known as cubs. They usually arrive in litters of four. The name raccoon probably derives from an American Indian word of similar pronunciation, variously spelled. Raccoon is said to mean "animal that washes (or scratches) with its hands."
In winter, raccoons enjoy lives of leisure. Their tracks are found only occasionally in snow because on most days, the masked bandits are curled snug in their dens, not quite hibernating, but snoozing, conserving energy, living off their body fat, and awaiting the arrival of spring.
artwork by Linda Matusich © 2002
text by Edward Kanze