Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are found throughout Massachusetts. They are one of the most easily recognizable furbearers; well known for its black face mask outlined in white and a bushy tail with alternating black and gray rings.
The front and hind paws of raccoons each have 5 digits. The very dexterous front paws are used to grasp and manipulate food items.
Raccoons can vary in weight from 12 - 36 pounds, with some exceptionally large raccoons reaching even heavier weights. They range in length from 23 - 38 inches including a 7 - 16 inch tail.
They are extremely adaptable thriving in a wide variety of habitat types including rural, suburban and even urban
Preventing Conflicts with Raccoons
The following tips will explain how people can live with and enjoy wildlife ,including raccoons, responsibly. Remember that your behavior affects the behavior of wildlife.
Secure your garbage and compost! Raccoons will happily raid garbage cans and compost heaps. Make sure garbage is kept in tightly closed containers. Take out trash on the morning of pick-up instead of the night before. Keep compost in secure vented containers to prevent access to this attractive food source. These practices prevent artificial feeding of raccoons and also makes your area less attractive to them.
Do not feed or try to touch raccoons! Raccoons are wild animals and feeding, whether directly or indirectly, may cause them to lose their fear of people. Raccoons which become habituated (used to people) may approach other humans expecting food or attention. This is not safe for animals or people.
Feed pets indoors! Do not put pet food outdoors under any circumstances. Pet food left outdoors inadvertently feeds a variety of wildlife including raccoons. Causing raccoons to congregate at a feeder can also facilitate the spread of disease from raccoons to other wildlife or domestic animals.
Eliminate potential denning areas! Close off openings under porches and buildings. Seal any openings that lead into sheds or attics and cap off chimneys.
Share this information with your neighbors! Your best efforts will be futile if neighbors are providing raccoons with food and shelter.
Raccoons are an important natural resource in Massachusetts. They are classified as a furbearer species, for which an established regulated trapping season and management program exists.
If you are experiencing problems with, or have other questions regarding raccoons, contact the nearest MassWildlife District office.