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Raccoons

The raccoon is abundant throughout much of North America and is an inhabitant in the Laurel Lake area. This mammal grows to a lengthof 38 inches including its tail and to a weight of 25 pounds.

Raccoons have black markings that resemble masks and a long,fine coat with a bushy tail. The tail has 4 to 7 very dark rings.In captivity, raccoons have been known to live up to 12 years.

Raccoons live both in trees and on the ground. They are excellent climbers. They live alone or in small family groups.Raccoons are nocturnal and travel within a range of 200 acres.

Raccoons that live in the Laurel Lake area most likely live instumps of trees or in hollow logs.

Raccoons breed once per year between January and June.Nine weeks following mating, the female gives birth to 1 to 7 offspring.Most, however, have 3 or 4 per year. Some females mate at 12 months ofage.

The newborn raccoons have no masks nor do they have tail rings.When they are 4 months old, they are completely weaned. Their eyes are open after 21 days and their hearing arrives shortly after that.Babies remain in the den 8 to 10 weeks and follow their motheron hunting excursions after that. Raccoons remain with their motheruntil winter. In winter, they find their own dens.

The raccoon is an intelligent omnivore and will eat practically anything edible including insects, frogs, fruits,fish, small mammals, eggs, birds, and nuts. The raccoon uses its forepaws to manipulate food. It often washes what it eats.

The raccoon has few natural predators in the Laurel Lake area.Birds of prey are major predators to baby raccoons. Raccoons inthe wild have been known to carry rabies.