Out Wit Raccoons

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Raccoons and relatives: An entry from Thomson Gale's Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia by Serge Larivière PhD

Biology of the raccoon (Procyon lotor varius Nelson and Goldman) in Alabama , Alabama. Agricultural Experiment Station

Raccoon Diet

Raccoon diet is truly omnivorous eating both plants and animals. They will eat most anything ranging from nuts and fruits, to bugs and beetles, to frogs and crayfish, to bird eggs and carrion (road kill). They have no qualms about getting into a garbage can for last night’s (or week’s) leftover macaroni and cheese!

Raccoon Diet-Food

With such a varied diet the list of foods nature’s little bandit will partake is quite long. Starting first with plant foods the raccoon diet will lead them to consume fruits including grapes, cherries, peaches, plums, apples, melons, persimmons and all varieties of berries: raspberries, blackberries, etc. Vegetables are well regarded, in particular sweet corn and tomatoes. Other plants eaten are nuts such as acorns and walnuts, grains and seeds.

When the animal decides to engage their meat eating side their absolute favorites are fish. They also enjoy other water dwellers including clams, crayfish and snails. Wild land mammals eaten by raccoons include squirrels, mice, rats and even gophers. Not the most astute hunters, raccoons more often than not will go after chickens in coops and eat road kill. Small birds and bird eggs, insects and slugs round out the meat portion of the raccoon diet.

One cannot talk about raccoon food without recognizing two (2) very important staples of the raccoon diet: food scraps from garbage cans and pet food left outside.

Raccoon Diet-Physical Attributes

The single most important physical attribute of the raccoon diet has to be those wonderful five (5) fingered paws. The grasping ability of these animals is amazing as many have witnessed, but is not the only capability that makes the paws so incredibly important to their diet. Because they are essentially hairless these little beauties act as sensors, extremely sensitive to touch, which allows them to feel the foods they are holding. This helps them determine if the object is edible and allows for better identification.

Raccoon Diet-Benefits and Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem

The varied diet of the raccoon inevitably leads to quite a lot of headaches for farmers and home gardeners alike. In particular the animal’s affinity for fruits and vegetables can become a big problem not to mention their preference for chickens. Both of which can cause substantial economic and emotional losses for the large and small owners alike.

Closer to home the raccoon diet may pose even further frustration for homeowners. No one enjoys cleaning up the yard after a night of feasting by resident raccoons that have picked through the garbage can during the night. Dogs and cats may not awaken too happy either once they find their food bowl has been cleaned out overnight.

With so many food choices it is no surprise the there are many detriments to the raccoon diet.


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