The adult raccoon is the largest member of the Procyonidae family and a medium-sized mammal. It grows to be 24 to 38 inches long and weighs 14 to 23 pounds or more, depending on habitat and food availability. The male raccoon, known as a boar, is slightly bigger than the female, known as a sow. The young are referred to as kits.

Its most distinguishing and well-known feature is the black fur mask covering its eyes. One explanation for the dark fur is that it reduces glare and improves the nocturnal animal’s night vision. In addition, the species has grayish-brown fur, nearly 90% of which is dense underfur to keep the animal warm in the winter. On its tail, 5 to 8 light and dark rings alternate.

Raccoons appear hunched when walking or running because their hind legs are longer than their front legs. The five toes on a raccoon’s front paws are extremely dexterous, acting as five little fingers to grasp and manipulate food found in the wild and various other objects such as jars, doorknobs, and latches. The most heightened sense of a raccoon is its sense of touch. It has very sensitive front paws, which increase in sensitivity underwater. A raccoon will explore objects in water when it is able.

We will go over the average lifespan of raccoons and their life cycle. These omnivores have a variety of interesting habits and ways of life. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about raccoons, you’ve come to the right place. So let’s get this party started.

How long do raccoons live?

The lifespan of a raccoon is determined by whether it lives in the wild or captivity. Raccoons can live for a decade or more, but they only live for about five years on average.

Merlin, a raccoon kept in captivity, lived at least 14 years old. Some raccoons have even lived to be at least 20 years old. The oldest raccoon ever recorded lived for 22 years.

How long do raccoons live in captivity?

Raccoons are occasionally kept in zoos, environmental centers, or pets. Captive raccoons have been reported to live for up to 20 years. However, the lifespan of a raccoon varies greatly depending on where it lives, the weather, and, most importantly, whether it lives in a confined area or the wild.

The raccoons live in style, and being in their element comes with an added benefit. A raccoon’s life in captivity can last up to 20 years. This is an astounding statistic, given how long a raccoon typically lives in the wild! On the other hand, pet raccoons have a high death rate from time to time.

Human behavior is once again the deciding factor. Many people get a pet raccoon without thinking about the benefits and drawbacks of raising and nurturing such an animal. They are eventually presented with a lot of options.

The lifespan of a pet raccoon is primarily determined by how well the owner cares for it and whether it is free of illnesses. Unfortunately, a raccoon that has been raised in the neighborhood has only a slim chance of surviving in the wild. They do not perform well in cages or small rooms as a pet. They require space to roam, climb, and explore to be happy.

Therefore, keep an animal in a cage for no more than 24 hours. As you can see, even though a pet raccoon has many benefits, the length of his life is frequently determined by his owner’s choices.

How long do raccoons live in the wild?

Raccoons live in the wild for an average of 2-5 years, with captive raccoons living much longer.

But they can live for a decade or more with adequate shelter and food.

On the other hand, many raccoons die before reaching the age of 12 months due to illness, malnutrition, predators, human interference, or predators.

In the wild, raccoons face various threats and predators, the majority of which are caused by humans. They are dying at a young age due to cars and other human interventions. They are also preyed upon by large predators like coyotes and bobcats.

Where can I find raccoons?

Raccoons are highly adaptable animals found in many parts of the world. They are most common in North America, including the United States and Canada. However, they can also be found in South America, Asia, and Europe.

Raccoons prefer to live in woods or forested areas, preferably near a natural water body. They prefer deciduous forests with plenty of trees to provide cover. They can also be found in mountainous areas, marshes, and densely forested areas.

The life cycle of a raccoon

two gray animals on green grass field during daytime

Here’s what a typical raccoon’s life is like, from birth to old age.

Newborn Raccoons

In the early spring and late winter, raccoons mate. Females give birth only once a year. They have a two-month gestation period, and most raccoons give birth to 3-6 babies on average. These children are born blind, hairless, and defenseless. Their mother is essential to their survival.

After three to four weeks of age, baby raccoons, also known as kits, begin to walk. Unfortunately, they are most vulnerable during this period, as coyotes and other predators can carry them away due to their small size and relative helplessness.

Young Raccoons

Baby raccoons go through a lot of changes as they grow. They do, however, stay with their mothers for the first 6-8 months of their lives, if not the entire first year. This is a dangerous time for young raccoons because they are learning valuable foraging techniques and how to best hide during times of predation.

Raccoons typically live solitary lives after the age of a year. Male raccoons reach sexual maturity at two years, while female raccoons reach sexual maturity in a single year. Because raccoons are opportunistic omnivores, young raccoons start to learn how to best forage and find food during this period of their lives.

Adulthood

After two years of age, raccoons are viewed as fully grown adults. Raccoons can weigh anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds, depending on food availability and size. Talking of food, did you know that raccoons, like humans, prefer to wash their food before eating it?

Unfortunately, based on their average lifespan in the wild, many adult raccoons are nearing the end of their lives. With so many environmental and health issues, an adult raccoon may not live much longer than two or three years.

However, raccoons are still an important part of many ecosystems and habitats. If you have raccoons on your property, there are several steps you can take to keep them and your property safe. Covering your trash cans is one of several things you can do to keep these animals away without harming them.

Why do raccoons live for such a short time?

black and white animal in close up photography

Survival skills

Nature has endowed the raccoon with some impressive abilities that allow them to not only survive but thrive. Despite their short legs, raccoons can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. In addition, raccoons are excellent climbers, which may allow them to gain access to your home through the roof. The ability of a raccoon’s hind feet to rotate 180 degrees helps them in climbing down.

The front paws of a raccoon are human like hands in that they each have five digits. Raccoons, unlike humans, do not have opposable thumbs. Nonetheless, their paws are extremely dexterous, allowing them to get food that would otherwise be inaccessible. Raccoons have very long claws, and special hairs on their toes called vibrissae that enable them to identify objects before picking them up with their paws.

Raccoons are omnivorous, meaning they eat almost anything. They will sometimes hunt for food, but more often than not, they will scavenge. This can be a problem if they end up in your garbage.

Food sources

The scarcity of food is a significant threat to raccoon survival. Raccoons require a steady food supply to meet their energy requirements for mating, carrying babies, and nursing them.

Raccoons have evolved to be opportunistic omnivores in response to food scarcity over time. As a result, raccoons eat almost anything, including meat, vegetation, fish, eggs, nuts, grains, and trash.

A raccoon will starve to death if it does not have a consistent food supply. This is common in young raccoons who rely on their mothers to forage food. If the mother is killed, the kits will perish due to starvation.

During the summer, raccoons need more food than they require. This is to help them develop a thick coat and fat layers to survive the winter. However, it can be difficult to find food when the weather is bad or the ground is frozen.

Raccoons usually raid urban gardens searching for easy food sources like pet bowls, trashcans, or bird feeders. Unfortunately, a diet heavy on these sources is likely to result in nutritional deficiencies, making a raccoon vulnerable in the wild.

Predators

Raccoons are vulnerable to predators despite their impressive survival skills. Raccoons will be hunted by large cats such as cougars and bobcats and canine predators such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes.

Raccoons, particularly young raccoons, are also threatened by the great horned owl. Raccoons prefer to live near human habitations, in part because large predators rarely go to areas populated by a large number of humans.

gray raccoon standing on gray rock

Raccoons serve as prey for various other animals higher up the food chain.

Common raccoon predators include:

  • Cougars
  • Bobcats
  • Foxes
  • Owls
  • Eagles
  • Coyotes
  • Wolves
  • Hawks
  • Snakes

The majority of raccoons are devoured when they are young and immature. This implies that they are smaller and cannot fight or escape. When the mother raccoon leaves forage, some predators will follow her and strike the kits in their den.

Domestic dogs pose a significant threat to wild raccoons. For example, a raccoon foraging in your yard can be easily caught and killed by a dog.

Adult Raccoons are aggressive and can often defend themselves against predators. Around 8 weeks old, baby raccoons will be taken out to forage. This reduces the amount of time they spend alone in the den, making them susceptible to predators.

Human trapping and hunting are also major threats to raccoon survival. Humans kill hundreds and thousands of raccoons in the United States every year. The majority of these are slaughtered for meat, sport, and fur.

Raccoons are also killed as pests because they destroy crops and poultry and spread disease.

Disease

The health of a raccoon has a significant impact on its chances of survival. Disease and parasites are among the leading causes of death in wild raccoons.

The following are some of the most common diseases that wild raccoons contract:

  • Rabies
  • Leptospirosis
  • Salmonella
  • Distemper
  • Roundworm
  • Parvovirus

These are just a few of the most common diseases that raccoons will contract. In addition, raccoons are susceptible to various diseases, particularly if they are young, injured, or malnourished.

The most common cause of natural death in raccoons is distemper, which can cause brain enlargement. In addition, raccoons may be infected with parasites and bacterial and viral illnesses.

Most of these diseases attack the raccoon’s internal organs, causing multiple organ failures. As a result, the raccoon will become increasingly ill and unable to find food or maintain their safety until they die.

Although raccoons are notorious for carrying rabies, there has only been one recorded human death in the United States from raccoon rabies. Aggression, unusual vocalization, and excessive foam or drool from the mouth are signs that a raccoon may have rabies. If you believe you have found a rabid raccoon, contact your local animal control authority right away.

brown and black cat on brown tree

Injury

The environment in which a raccoon lives can put them at risk of injury. An injured raccoon is prone to attack, unable to forage for food, and may become infected.

Raccoons that live close to urban areas are most likely to be injured due to their interactions with humans. For example, raccoons commonly sustain injuries when they trespass on the land or in gardens. This could be due to dogs, gunshots, or poison.

Humans who drive automobiles pose a serious threat. In addition, because raccoons are nocturnal, they may be difficult to spot while crossing the street at night.

Raccoons are also vulnerable to injury in car accidents. The majority of raccoons die immediately after being hit by a vehicle. However, some people may sustain broken bones, severe internal injuries, or massive open wounds.

Devices used by trappers or hunters can also cause raccoons to suffer life-threatening injuries. However, if the raccoon dies immediately, it is most likely due to predator exposure or starvation.

Raccoons will sustain injuries while fleeing predators or defending their territory. Relocating a trapped raccoon almost always results in the raccoon’s death at the hands of aggressive males in the area.

Climate

Raccoons usually spend time in areas with harsh winter weather. Raccoons do not hibernate during the winter. To survive, raccoons must develop unique adaptations.

Extreme weather conditions, such as snow and ice, are common during the winter. Unfortunately, that means scarce food and dangerously low temperatures.

Raccoons can enter a state of torpor when the temperature falls below 59 °F (15 °C). This allows raccoons to slow their metabolism and go for long periods without eating.

Raccoons must find a safe shelter because they may be exposed to extreme winter conditions. Raccoons will frequently seek a den and assemble with a few other raccoons to share body heat. Unfortunately, raccoons will most likely freeze to death if they do not have adequate shelter.

If a raccoon does not store enough fat during the summer and fall seasons, it will have to brave the winter conditions to find food. Unfortunately, this usually results in death due to exhaustion, starvation, or hypothermia.