The raccoon is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. It is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm and a body weight of 5 to 26 kg. Its grayish coat mostly consists of dense underfur which insulates it against cold weather. Three of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws, its facial mask, and its ringed tail, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for at least three years. They are usually nocturnal and omnivorous, eating about 40% invertebrates, 33% plants, and 27% vertebrates.
The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where some homeowners consider them to be pests. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across much of mainland Europe, Caucasus, and Japan.
Though previously thought to be generally solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in sex-specific social behavior. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four raccoons to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders. Home range sizes vary anywhere from 3 hectares for females in cities to 5,000 hectares for males in prairies. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young, known as "kits", are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersal in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas, hunting and vehicular injury are the two most common causes of death.
Which is a characteristic of a raccoon?
a) distinguished by having an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage
b) distinguished by the secretion of milk by females for the nourishment of the young
c) distinguished by having a dry scaly skin and typically laying soft-shelled eggs on land
Where do raccoons usually live?
a) in areas where there are trees and shrubs and marshes
b) in ponds and marshes
c) in the seas and rivers
What are omnivores?
a) those who feed on animals alone
b) those who feed on plants and animals
c) those who feed on plants alone
How long do raccoons normally live?
a) about 12 years
b) about 2 years
c) more or less 3 years
How do some people consider raccoons?
a) as pets
b) as destructive animals
c) as ornaments