The Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is native to North and South America having a range that extends from Southern Canada to the northern reaches of Argentina. Raccoons have feral populations in Europe, especially Germany, where they escaped from fur farms and were set loose to be hunted for sport during the time of World War II. The raccoon gets its name from the Algonquin word arakun which means “one who scratches with his hands.” Raccoons are plantigrade animals, walking on the entirety of their foot – heel to toe. Bears and humans do this as well.
Raccoons are highly intelligent and have a manual dexterity that comes close to that of apes. Their long delicate fingers easily open clam shells, trash cans and doors. They are true omnivores and are opportunistic in their diet. They will eat fruit, insects, berries, nuts, eggs, small rodents, grapes, corn, crabs, crayfish and anything edible you may have left in the backyard. It was once thought that raccoons washed their food. They do not. Raccoons have a highly sensitive sense of touch which water helps to enhance. Even when water is unavailable, raccoons will use the same motions while they manipulate their food or objects they are interested in.