A raccoon (or racoon) is any one of three species of nocturnal mammal which constitute the genus Procyon of the Procyonidae family. The most widespread species, the Common Raccoon, is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are considerably lesser-known. Genetic studies have shown that the closest relatives of the raccoon are the ringtails and cacomistles.
Although there is some variation depending on the species in question, raccoons range from 20-40 inches (51-102 cm) in length (including the tail) and weigh between 10 and 35 lbs (4.5-16 Kg). The raccoon's tail ranges from 8 to 16 inches (20-40 cm) in length. Male raccoons are generally larger than females. A baby raccoon is called a kit.
Raccoons can live up to 16 years in the wild, though most do not make it through their second year. A raccoon that survives past its youth will live an average of 5 years. Primary causes of mortality include humans (hunting, trapping, cars) and malnutrition.
Raccoons are unusual, for their thumbs (though not opposable) enable them to open many closed containers (such as garbage cans and doors). They are omnivores with a reputation for being clever and mischievous; their intelligence and dexterity equip them to survive in a wide range of environments and are one of the few medium-to-large-sized animals that have enlarged its range since human encroachment began (another is the coyote). Raccoon hindfeet are plantigrade similar to a human's. Raccoons are sometimes considered vermin or a nuisance, and are common in campgrounds of North America, especially in the Midwest.
Many people are surprised when a creature that they usually think of as cute or cuddly raids their campsite at night and makes odd growls and fights viciously over scraps of food left out by campers.... (more on wikipedia.org)