Are Raccoons Nocturnal? Interesting Facts You May Not Know

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 19, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 28, 2021
Close up of raccoon sniffing for food.

Raccoons are North American mammals that are best known for their bandit-like black mask and very similar behavior as well.

Raccoons are very easily recognizable. You may find raccoons really cute creatures, but they can be fearsome when actually approached.

Raccoons are nocturnal creatures who are active during the night but if there is a need to feed the young, the mother raccoons can forage for feed during the day hours as well, as a nursing mother requires more food for the benefit of the young.

Raccoons are very intelligent and curious animals, but they can be troublesome for any house. You can see raccoons destroying urban gardens, making a mess by flipping over garbage cans, and causing damage in the area while they are searching for food.

Raccoons and bears have a common ancestry.

They also happen to be omnivorous and could be seen eating anything available. Raccoons have acute senses of hearing and sight. People underestimate a raccoon’s intelligence.

They are the smartest animals in urban areas who can survive every single human death trap like traffic, trains, dogs, and enough to find food for themselves! They are an important element of wildlife around us. Read below to know more about raccoons and the life of these little bandits.

After reading all about the sleeping habits of a raccoon, do check that are rabbits nocturnal and are pigs good pets.

What does nocturnal mean?

If something is nocturnal, that means they are active during the night and not during the day.

Animals that are active during the night and rest during the day are called ‘nocturnal animals.’ Similarly, the animals who are active during the day and sleep at night are called ‘diurnal’. The senses of nocturnal animals are heightened to a great extent due to their activities in the dark.

These animals are able to smell, see and hear much better when compared to diurnal animals.

Being active at night, when their main threat is sleeping, allows some species to survive. Nocturnal animals have less competition for food, and the conflict is much less between these animals. Certain nocturnal animals such as bats use echolocation to navigate and find food for themselves. Examples of nocturnal animals include owls, bats, foxes, hedgehogs, leopards, mice, and raccoons.

When do raccoons sleep?

Raccoons are nocturnal animals, they are usually active during the night, and they spend the daytime resting.

During winters, raccoons sleep more than usual, but they do not hibernate like in the traditional sense. While they are sleeping during this time, their body lives off the fat stored.

Around the time of winters, raccoons lose more than 50% of their body weight. It is thought that a raccoon who walks during the daytime is usually sick or has rabies.

Raccoons might be active during the daytime if there is some kind of food source available nearby at a particular time.

They might be busy during the daytime if there is high competition at night for food. Mother raccoons have their usual patterns disrupted during the spring and summer when they are forced to look out for food in the morning while they are nursing a litter.

However, what is not normal is an adult raccoon showing symptoms like loss of balance, lethargic behavior, and difficulty In walking. If you ever see a raccoon with those symptoms, call wildlife services or animal control immediately, as these are the signs of a sick raccoon.

Homeowners find signs of raccoons around their home troublesome; if your house gets a lot of raccoons, seal your chimneys immediately, doors, and other entry points. Removal of garbage around the house is also important. Sealed doors and chimneys would keep them away.

How long do raccoons sleep?

Raccoons are primarily omnivores that typically search for food during the night. You may have heard them knocking down your trash cans as these furballs could be seen eating everything from fruits to garbage. Local homeowners are always furious because of them!

Raccoons are nocturnal, which means a raccoon will search for his food when the dusk sets, and their search is usually complete by dawn. Male raccoons live alone, while female and raccoon babies stay together in dens and feed. The consumption pattern of raccoons is usually heightened up during the fall.

Raccoons generally sleep within cracks of old trees. That is because they feel protected from predators in these spaces. Wild raccoons are extremely protective of their territory.

Woody plants and forests are places where young raccoons sleep during the day. Whenever the weather is more pleasant to them, they are usually found resting on trees, whereas on warmer days, you can find raccoons sleeping in open shelters. Raccoons always have a plan ‘B’; there is always another raccoon den if something happens to the first one.

Facts About Raccoons

Here are some interesting facts about raccoons. These cute and curious animals have a lot behind them. Read the raccoon facts below!

You may find it surprising, but raccoons are super introverted animals! They prefer to spend a lot of time instead with some other raccoon.

Males only live with females during the mating season, and after that, they leave. Females stay with young raccoons till the end of their first winter. You can only see a group of raccoons together in a harsh winter.

This group consists of many females but only one male raccoon. The group is likely to share a den, but as soon as spring arrives, they all separate.

Raccoon’s fingers are flexible and long. They are placed far apart, and they can hold things as well as a monkey can. Raccoons can catch a fish without even looking because their hands are seldom.

A raccoon uses the fingers of its forepaws to feel things around itself. A raccoon’s fingers are as strong as a claw; they help raccoons to climb a garbage can to a tree. The climbing ability helps them out a lot when escaping their enemies.

Raccoons can live up to a maximum age of 16 years in the wild. A captive raccoon had lived up to the age of 21.

The average lifespan of this black-masked animal is three to five years. You might think raccoons are sluggish in their movements, but with a shuffle like a walk, they can walk up to a speed of 15 mph (24.1 kph), and they can withstand drops of nearly 35 ft (10.6 m).

Raccoons are excellent swimmers as well. Most adult raccoons are about 18-28 in (45.7-71 cm) in length and weigh between 5-15 lb (2.2-6.8 kg). Males are generally larger than females.

The world’s heaviest raccoon named Bandit weighed around 75 lb (34 kg) and set a Guinness World Record. Bandit was a pet raccoon.

‘Procyon lotor’ is another name for raccoons; lotor means ‘washerman’. Whenever you see a raccoon, you would have noticed that a raccoon’s habits include washing their food before they consume it.

Even if there is no water body around, they will move their forepaws around the food item and lift it up and down. We all know raccoons for their bandit-like black mask, but this mask does serve a purpose for raccoons.

A theory suggests that dark marking on a raccoon’s face helps it deflect the sun’s glare and also improves its night vision. These black markings also help them hide their eyes from predators.

You may find these animals really cute, but you do not want to mess with these bandits as they can get very aggressive. They are the most reported rabid wildlife species.

They can carry pathogens and parasites, and diseases by the name of ‘Baylisascaris’ can be transmitted to humans by raccoons. Raccoons were initially classified as a relative of bears in 1740. However, in 1780, a new genus, ‘Procyon lotor’ was created for raccoons which are still used today.

Although many animal species have dissipated to human urbanization and growth, raccoons have adapted to living with humans and their population number keeps rising. A natural raccoon habitat is moist woodlands and babies of raccoons are called kits.

Raccoon behavior with humans is not that friendly as they can be aggressive when approached by humans if they are busy feeding on trash.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are raccoons nocturnal then why not take a look at are rabbits herbivores, or when do hummingbirds come out.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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