raccoon

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raccoon,

nocturnal New World mammal of the genus Procyon. The common raccoon of North America, Procyon lotor, also called coon, is found from S Canada to South America, except in parts of the Rocky Mts. and in deserts. It has a stocky, heavily furred body, a pointed face, handlike forepaws, and a bushy tail. It is 1 1-2 to 2 1-2 ft (46–76 cm) long, excluding the 8 to 12 in. (20–30 cm) tail, with mixed gray, brown, and black hair, a black face mask, and black rings on the tail. It lives mostly in wooded areas and usually feeds along lakes and streams. A good climber, it often nests in a hollow tree or climbs aloft for refuge. It has a highly omnivorous diet, including nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, insects, frogs, and crayfish. When water is available it may dip its food before eating; this so-called washing is associated with behaviors used for location and capture of aquatic prey, such as crayfish and frogs. Raccoons do not hibernate but sleep through cold spells in their dens. Their metabolism is normal during these periods and they wake easily. Adult males are usually solitary; females and young live in family groups. Raccoons have proved highly adaptable to civilization and are found even in large cities, where they feed on garbage. They are a minor nuisance in fields and gardens, but are valuable as destroyers of insects; their durable fur is used for coats and trimmings. The crab-eating raccoon, P. cancrivorus, is a semiaquatic, reddish-colored South American species. Other species are found on Caribbean islands. The raccoon family also includes the New World coatimundicoatimundi
or coati
, omnivore of North and South America related to the raccoon. The coatimundi has a long snout, an elongated body, and a long bushy tail banded with dark rings. The coat color varies from yellowish brown or reddish brown to black.
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, cacomistlecacomistle
, small New World mammal, genus Bassaricus, related to the raccoon. There are two species, one found in Mexico and the SW United States, the other in Central America. The North American cacomistle, B.
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 (ring-tailed cat), and kinkajoukinkajou
, nocturnal, arboreal mammal, Potos flavus, found from Mexico to Brazil and related to the raccoon. It has a long, slender body with soft, short, woolly hair of any of various shades of brown or yellow.
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. Raccoons are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Procyonidae.

raccoon

[ra′kün]
(vertebrate zoology)
Any of 16 species of carnivorous nocturnal mammals belonging to the family Procyonidae; all are arboreal or semiarboreal and have a bushy, long ringed tail.

raccoon

, racoon
1. any omnivorous mammal of the genus Procyon, esp P. lotor (North American raccoon), inhabiting forests of North and Central America and the Caribbean: family Procyonidae, order Carnivora (carnivores). Raccoons have a pointed muzzle, long tail, and greyish-black fur with black bands around the tail and across the face
2. the fur of the North American raccoon
References in periodicals archive ?
Emergence of raccoon rabies in Connecticut, 1991-1994: spatial and temporal characteristics of animal infection and human contact.
Over the last 15 years, we've had about 3,000 cases of raccoon rabies in raccoons; about 1,600 in skunks; and about 140 in cats, which have the most human exposure," Mr.
On August 27, 2009, a sick raccoon collected from Central Park in Manhattan tested positive for rabies virus, marking the emergence of an enzootic of raccoon rabies in Central Park.
Nucleotide sequence analysis and antigenic typing with monoclonal antibodies on frozen brain tissue indicated that the specific etiologic agent was a southeastern raccoon rabies virus variant.
The increase in bat submissions for rabies testing after 1992 correlated with RRV introduction and associated statewide enhancement of rabies surveillance and awareness generated by arrival of raccoon rabies.
During August 1994--August 1999, 857 rabid animals were identified, 85% of which were infected or presumed infected with the raccoon rabies variant.
Spatial and temporal patterns of enzootic raccoon rabies adjusted for multiple covariates.
This report describes the continuing spread of an epizootic of raccoon rabies in affected mid-Atlantic and north-eastern states and the spread into Ohio, indicating an increasing move westward despite geographic barriers.
Because the raccoon rabies virus (RRV) variant is endemic to Massachusetts and spillover into the coyote population occurs (3), coyotes are a potential source of rabies exposure for humans.
In Connecticut, the first case of animal rabies associated with the ongoing raccoon rabies epizootic was identified in March 1991; since then, cases of animal rabies have been confirmed in all eight counties of the state.
Other contingency actions unrelated to the westward spread of raccoon rabies have also been implemented.
For example, the current raccoon rabies epizootic in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States is the direct consequence of translocation and spread of infected raccoons from the southeastern United States during the late 1970s; raccoons are now the primary rabies reservoir in the United States[3].