Baby raccoons are extremely intelligent, social animals. If you’ve ever wondered how such a small animal can get into a trash can, we have the answers! Keep reading to find out five cool facts about raccoons and to see some adorable pictures along the way!
#1: A Baby Raccoon is Called a Kit!
Did you know that a baby raccoon is called a kit? Multiple baby raccoons from the same family are called a litter. Mother raccoons will only have one litter per year, with an average litter size of anywhere from three to six kits. However, raccoons can have up to 8 kits at a time.
The baby raccoon isn’t the only land animal that is called a kit! Other animals that share the name include:
An adult male raccoon is called a boar and an adult female is called a sow, namesakes that are shared with the pig!
#2: Raccoon Kits are Extremely Smart
Dolphins, monkeys, and dogs are often the first animals that come to mind when it comes to the smartest animals in the world. You might be surprised to learn that scientists say that raccoons are in the same category! In fact, some of the skills they have are similar to the benchmarks that humans need to pass tests.
Their intelligence isn’t the most extraordinary thing about them, though. Studies show that the tiny mammals have 438 million neurons in their brains. So, what does this mean for the raccoon’s intelligence? Scientists say that the adorable animals can learn from past mistakes. They can even engage in problem-solving and critical thinking!
#3: Baby Raccoons are Born Without Their Famous Masks
Perhaps one of raccoons’ most prominent features is the natural masks that make them look like tiny bandits. However, baby raccoons are born without their signature mask!
Raccoon babies are born with a very light pelt and will develop their markings later in life. The mask, however, won’t appear until the baby is around two and a half months old. Their mask-like features start off lightly colored but continue to darken as the raccoon gets older.
#4: Baby Racoons Have Fingers!
If you’ve ever wondered how a raccoon kit can get into your trash cans, the answer is simple: they have five fingers! They don’t have opposable thumbs, which sets them apart from humans and primates. This means that they must use both of their hands to grasp objects.
The mechanoreceptor cells in a raccoon’s hand also make them unique. Scientists say that a baby raccoon’s hands have around four to five times the amount of these cells than other mammals. The only other animals in the world that have similar numbers are humans and primates. This means that raccoon kits have a unique ability to sense with their hands that most other mammals lack!
#5: Baby Raccoons Walk in a Single File Line
Few people are unfamiliar with the sight of a line of baby ducklings following behind their mother. But did you know that baby raccoons follow theirs in the same formation?
Once a baby raccoon reaches about eight weeks old, it is time for them to leave the den. It is at this time that mother raccoons lead their babies to a new location. During this journey, mother raccoons take the opportunity to teach their young to forage for food and how to detect threats around them. Raccoon kits will remain with their mothers until they are around ten months old.
Is It Safe To Pick Up a Baby Raccoon?
Good question! Looking at all those adorable pics of raccoon kits, the thought may have crossed your mind that it would be fun to hold and cuddle one. So is it safe to pick up a raccoon, even a baby?
Absolutely not! The chief reason is that raccoons are a rabies vector species, meaning that they are more prone to carry rabies than other animals such as domesticated ones. If you handle a raccoon and it bites you, then there’s a possibility you could be infected with rabies through the bite.
The only way to determine if a raccoon is rabid, unfortunately, is to euthanize it for testing of its brain tissue. Most states require that this be done to any raccoon that has bitten and possibly infected a person (obviously if the raccoon is successfully captured).
If you don’t want to be responsible for a cute little raccoon kit being put down, or having to go through treatments to stave off rabies, then you will not handle raccoons of any age or size.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © sinagrafie/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are baby raccoons called?
Baby raccoons are called kits and multiple kits are called a litter. Kits are more likely to be born in litters ranging from 3 to 6 babies. Male raccoons are called boars while females are called sows. A mother raccoon and her babies are called a nursery.
How much do baby raccoons weigh?
When a baby raccoon is born they weigh anywhere from 2 to 7 ounces and they’re only about half a foot long. By 3 months old, they weigh about 33 ounces and should be eating adult food. A boar, an adult male raccoon, can weigh up to 35 pounds – that’s three times the size of the average house cat!
What do baby raccoons eat?
Baby raccoons are mammals, therefore they nurse from and are very dependent on their mothers. By two and a half to three months old, they are fully weaned and much more independent. Raccoon kits enjoy an omnivorous diet of bugs, small fish, nuts, berries, and even frogs!
Where do baby raccoons live?
Mother raccoons nest in hollowed out trees with their babies. They can also make dens inside for shelter and for protection away from predators. Raccoon nests can also often be found in attics, which is the perfect place to take shelter from cold winters!
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