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Raccoon Facts

Breeding - Breeds in February and March after severe weather has passed. May breed when 1 year old.

Gestation - 63 days

Birth - April or May

Litter - One litter per year averaging 2-6 young.

Young - Blind for 19 days. Nurses for 2 months. Remain in family circle throughthe winter. Male helps rear young.

Longevity - In the wild an old coon may live to be 7 years old but have been found to 12 years old, and in captivity they have lived to 14 years.

Foods - Raccoons are opportunistic omnivores eating both plant and animal foods. What they eat depends largely on what is available. They eat a wide variety of plant foods with mice and insects making up much of the animal foods eaten. In some areas coons have been common in the fall around waterfowl hunting areas scavenging on the dead or killing and eating wounded ducks and geese.

Home - Raccoons den in hollow trees or logs, caves, crevices in rocky ledges, abandoned burrows, cavities under tree roots, haystacks, barns, sheds, and even muskrat houses have been used.

Habits - Usually food near water or riparian habitats. Raccoons may have several dens within their home range and may not necessarily use only one continuously. Coons are nocturnal, foraging from dusk to dawn. Coons do not store food or keep their dens clean though they will wash food if water is available. They are highly inquisitive and sociable. Although adult coons are generally solitary they may den up with others during severe cold, when food is locally plentiful, or during periods of high population density. During snow and ice storms or severe temperatures coons will den up until the weather changes. Sometimes during these cold spells the coons will den in groups of up to 9 or more. Coons are excellent climbers and jumpers, making it difficult to preclude them from areas where they are not wanted. Coons are fierce fighters when cornered but prefer to flee from conflict.

Damage & Conflict - Raccoon will take poultry and corn. Raccoons can quickly devastate a garden corn crop and destroy other vegetable crops too. Coons will try to den in attics, chimneys, in or under outbuildings, and in crawl spaces under houses. Many suburban coons have learned to use uncapped chimneys to enter and set up dens. Coons will sometimes tear off roofing and fascia boards to try and gain entrance to attics. Coons have also been known to use swinging pet doors and chimneys to enter homes in search of food. In their search for insect larvae and worms, coons can cause serious damage to lawns and golf courses. Coons also prey on upland game bird, waterfowl and other ground nesting bird eggs and young.

Habitat Modification - Usually the best method for dealing with problem coons is some type of exclusion. Maintaining proper sanitation, and keeping garbage, refuse and other possible food sources cleaned up, are important deterrents. Removing and closing off possible shelter or den areas is also necessary.

Public Health - Raccoons are one of four wild animals considered to be primary carriers of rabies in the United States. There is also a public health concern with a roundworm that raccoons may carry and which can be transmitted to humans. Additionally raccoons are hosts for leptospirosis and giardiasis, both of which pose a health concern for humans.

Importance - Fur is long and of excellent quality. When longhaired furs are popular coons can be a valuable furbearer. Coons are important in some areas for the insects and mice that they eat. In Montana raccoon hunting with dogs is becoming increasingly popular. Raccoons can provide recreation for hunters and trappers.

Comments - Not a native species to most of Montana and the northern Rockies. Raccoons were historically found only on the extreme eastern border of Montana and then in very low numbers. However raccoons have spread through most of the state in the last 40-50 years following the riparian corridors. Raccoons are classified as nongame animals in Montana. Trapping is important in the control and management of coon populations. As hunting of coons becomes more popular it too will be an important tool in controlling them.