Raccoons are one of the few extinct species that have profited from the spread of humans. Despite the devastation of much of the creatures' natural habitat over the past few decades, populations in North America have skyrocketed. Raccoons are versatile enough to thrive successfully in suburban, urban, and rural settings. Raccoons scavenge for trash and pet food in residential areas while eating birds, insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds in woodlands. Some raccoons forage in areas where people live and then spend the day sleeping in the woods. Others live in buildings, both occupied and unoccupied.
In order to stock fur farms, the first raccoons were sent to Europe in the 1920s. Many raccoons escaped and started a new population in the wild thanks to an unintentional bombing and some bored farmers looking to spice up the local wildlife. Raccoons are now regarded as an invasive species in Europe.
The animals were even sent to Japan. Their journey there began more virtuously: Rascal the Raccoon, the wholesome star of the anime animation, was a childhood idol among Japanese kids in the 1970s. Children clamored for their own pet raccoons, and at one time Japan was importing almost 1500 of them each month. When these pets became too large for families to properly care for them, many of them naturally ended up back in the wild.
If you give raccoons a problem, they'll typically figure out how to solve it as long as there's food involved. They have repeatedly demonstrated this in labs in addition to yards and campsites. Early in the 20th century, ethologist H.B. Davis presented 12 raccoons with a set of locks to pick. They had to negotiate hooks, bolts, buttons, latches, and levers to get to the rewards inside the boxes; some of the boxes had multiple locks. The raccoons eventually managed to bypass 11 of the 13 defenses.
Is raccoon feces harmful to humans? Raccoon droppings may carry several potentially dangerous diseases. Recently, however, raccoons have been recognized as the main host for an even more dangerous parasite called Baylisascaris procyonis. This is a disgusting roundworm that can cause extremely serious disease conditions in humans.
Do raccoons kill cats? But while dogs may attack a raccoon, a cat will generally pretend to ignore coons, and try to be 'co-incidentally' elsewhere while the beast is around. Since raccoons usually ignore or avoid cats, the two species often get along fine by not getting along together at all. This does not mean that conflict may not arise.
Can humans get raccoon roundworm? The species commonly found in raccoons is Baylisascaris procyonis. When infective eggs of this roundworm are ingested by humans, Baylisascaris larvae hatch in the intestine and travel through the organs and muscles. Infected raccoons shed millions of eggs in their feces.
Anyone who has had a garden, cooler, or garbage can broken into by one of these animals knows that they have some of the most dexterous hands in all of nature. The first people to notice their unusual paws were Native Americans. The Powhatan phrase aroughcun, which means "animal that washes with its hands," is where the English word "raccoon" originates. Similar thinking went into the naming of the raccoon by the Aztecs. Mapachitli, which means "one who takes everything in its hands," was its given name. Mapache is now a Spanish word that means "raccoon."