Raccoons are a common site in many North American cities and suburbs, but did you know these furry creatures are incredibly interesting mammals with fascinating behaviors and characteristics?
And when it comes to baby raccoons, there’s even more, to marvel at. Therefore, this article will uncover 12 baby raccoon facts that will surprise you and give you a deeper appreciation for one of nature’s most adaptable and fascinating creatures.
1. Baby Raccoons Are Called Kits or Cubs
Baby raccoons are called kits or cubs because these are common names used to refer to the young of many different types of mammals.
“Kit” is generally used to describe the young of certain carnivorous mammals, such as foxes, ferrets, and raccoons, while “cub” is often used to describe the young of bears and big cats.
2. They Are Born Blind and Deaf
Raccoon kits are born blind and deaf and rely completely on their mother for food and protection. At around three weeks old, raccoon babies’ eyes start to open, and they begin to explore their surroundings.
They are curious/inquisitive creatures, learning quickly by watching and imitating their mother. They also have a good memory and can remember important information, such as the location of food sources.
Eventually, they will become independent and venture out independently, typically around 8 to 12 months old.
3. Baby Female Raccoons May Grow Faster Than Males
One possible explanation is that females have a higher metabolic rate, which allows them to digest and process food more efficiently, leading to faster growth.
Another factor is that female raccoons tend to be smaller than males, which may mean they require less time to reach maturity.
Females may also receive more attention from their mothers, who may focus more on caring for and feeding their female offspring. It could also contribute to faster growth rates in female raccoons.
However, it’s worth noting that the growth rates of baby raccoons can vary based on a range of factors, including genetics, diet, and environmental conditions.
While females may tend to grow faster than males, this isn’t always the case, and there can be significant variation among individual animals.
4. Kits Are Born in Litters of 2-6
Raccoons typically have litters of 2-6 kits because it balances the number of offspring and the amount of parental care available.
It’s because the offspring depend on their mother for food, warmth, and protection until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Therefore, having litters of 2-6 kits ensures that the mother raccoon can provide enough care and attention to each of her offspring while also allowing for a higher likelihood of survival for the litter.
If a raccoon were to have too many offspring at once, the mother may not be able to provide adequate care for all of them, which could result in lower survival rates.
Having multiple offspring in a litter also helps ensure genetic diversity and increases the chances of passing favorable traits to future generations.
Overall, the number of kits in a raccoon litter results from evolutionary processes that have optimized the survival and success of the species.
5. Their Mother Takes Care of Them For The First 7-8 Months of Their Lives
During this time, the mother will provide them with nourishment, warmth, and protection. As the kits grow, they become more independent and learn essential survival skills, such as foraging for food, climbing trees, and swimming.
Since raccoons are known for their remarkable intelligence and problem-solving abilities, they typically navigate their complex environments and secure food sources.
Baby raccoons also adapt well to urban environments; hence it’s common to see them foraging around dumpsters in cities alongside their mothers.
6. They Are Born With A Distinctive Mask-like Facial Marking
Baby raccoons are typically born with a distinctive mask-like facial marking. This marking consists of black fur around the eyes, resembling a mask. The rest of the baby raccoon’s fur tends to be lighter, often light grey, allowing camouflage in its natural habitat.
As the raccoon grows and matures, its mask-like facial marking typically becomes more defined and pronounced. The black “mask” around their eyes is thought to serve various functions:
It helps to reduce glare and improve their night vision since raccoons are primarily nocturnal animals (active at night). Their eyes are adapted to low-light conditions, but the dark fur around their eyes can create a glare that makes it more difficult for them to see in the dark.
Therefore, the black mask helps to reduce this glare and allows the young kits to see better in low-light conditions.
Additionally, the mask may also serve as a way to help mothers recognize their offspring. Each raccoon’s mask has a unique pattern of fur, which can help them distinguish between individuals in their social group.
7. Kits Are Very Vocal And Will Make A Variety of Sounds
Raccoon kits are very vocal because they rely on vocal communication to stay in touch with their mother and littermates, especially during the first few months of their lives.
Raccoon kits will make various sounds to communicate different messages, such as hunger, distress, and excitement. For example, a high-pitched, squeaky sound may indicate hunger, while a low growl may signal aggression or fear. They may also chirp, whine, and snarl to communicate different emotions and needs.
In addition to vocal communication, raccoons use body language and scent marking. However, vocal communication is particularly important for kits, as they are still learning to navigate their environment and need to stay in close contact with their family members for safety and survival.
8. Kits Are Born With A Thick Coat of Fur
Raccoon kits are born with a thick coat of fur because they are altricial, which means they are born in a relatively undeveloped state and require extensive care from their mother to survive.
The thick fur coat helps to insulate their bodies, keeping them warm in cold temperatures and protecting them from the elements. Their fur coat comprises two types of hair: a dense underfur and longer, coarser guard hairs.
The underfur traps air close to the skin, which helps to insulate the raccoon’s body and keep it warm. The guard hairs protect the underfur and help to repel water, keeping the raccoon dry in wet weather.
Additionally, the coat can serve as camouflage, helping the kits blend in with their surroundings and avoid predator detection.
As raccoon younglings grow and mature, their fur will continue to thicken and change in color and texture, eventually becoming an adult raccoon’s recognizable gray and black coat.
9. Kits Are Highly Curious, Which Can Sometimes Lead To Dangerous Situations
Raccoon kits are highly curious by nature and have an innate drive to explore their surroundings. It is a natural behavior that helps them learn about their environment and develop the necessary survival skills.
Naturally, raccoons are intelligent animals that can problem-solve and tend to be opportunistic feeders. It means that they may be drawn to food sources, such as garbage cans or pet food bowls.
However, this curiosity can sometimes lead them into dangerous situations, especially when they are not fully developed or have yet to learn to recognize potential dangers.
10. Kits Thrive In The Wild; Hence They Are Hard To Raise As Pets
Raccoon kits (baby raccoons) are well adapted to living in the wild due to their instincts and physical attributes.
For instance, they develop sharp claws and teeth, which help them climb trees and defend themselves from predators. They also acquire a strong sense of smell, excellent hearing, and night vision, which helps them find food and avoid danger.
In the wild, raccoon kits learn important survival skills from their mother, including how to find food, climb trees, and avoid predators. These skills take time to develop and cannot be taught by humans.
Raccoons are also intelligent and curious animals that need a lot of mental stimulation and social interaction to thrive. They have plenty of opportunities in the wild to explore their environment and interact with other raccoons.
However, in captivity, they can become bored and frustrated, leading to destructive behavior and health problems. Furthermore, in many countries, it is illegal to keep raccoons as pets, and even where it is legal, it is not recommended.
It’s mainly because raccoons can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and can also become aggressive as they mature.
11. Raccoon Babies Have Extremely Sensitive Paws
Raccoon babies, or kits, develop extremely sensitive paws as part of their natural adaptation to their environment. They are nocturnal animals (active at night) and rely heavily on their sense of touch to navigate their surroundings in the dark.
The sensitive pads on their paws are covered in tiny ridges and furrows that increase their surface area, allowing them to detect even the slightest vibrations and textures.
This feature makes it easier for them to feel their way around, find food, and climb trees. It also helps them to detect and avoid potential dangers, such as predators or obstacles in their path.
Additionally, raccoon kits are born blind and deaf, so they rely on their sense of touch to locate their mother and find their way to her for milk and warmth.
Therefore, the sensitive pads on their paws play a crucial role in helping them navigate their environment and find their mother.
As the kits grow older and their other senses develop, their reliance on their sense of touch decreases, but their sensitive paws remain an important tool for their survival.
12. Raccoon Babies Are Highly Intelligent From A Young Age
Raccoons are known for being highly intelligent animals, and their babies are no exception. Raccoon kits, or cubs, are born blind and helpless, weighing only a few ounces. However, they quickly begin to develop their cognitive abilities.
Raccoons are known for their problem-solving abilities, and this trait is evident in their babies as well. Researchers have conducted studies on raccoon kits and found that they can solve simple puzzles and use tools to obtain food at a young age.
For example, they have been observed dipping food in water to soften it or rolling rocks to access hidden treats.
In addition to their cognitive abilities, raccoon babies also have excellent social skills. They work together to accomplish tasks such as climbing trees or raiding bird nests.
As they grow, they become more active and curious, exploring their surroundings and learning important survival skills from their mother.
Therefore, although raccoon babies may start small and helpless, they quickly develop into intelligent and capable animals at a young age.
As we’ve seen, baby raccoons are fascinating creatures with unique attributes and behaviors. Whether observing them in the wild or caring for them in captivity, learning more about these fascinating animals is always a delight.