Although raccoons were once thought to be a solitary animal, they actually have very complex social behavior! Raccoon social behavior is very interesting and is directly tied to the fact that they are very intelligent, creative, and interesting creatures.
Raccoon Social Behavior is a Three Class Society
There is still some debate as to exactly how or when raccoons are solitary. Raccoons have “home ranges” and generally stick inside that range. They have a very gender-specific social behavior. Ethologist Ulf Hohmann called the raccoon social structure a “three class society”.
Within this social structures there are three distinct groups:
- Male raccoons are thought to generally form loose social groups made up of other unrelated male raccoons. A few reasons behind this behavior is to help defend their home ranges against foreign males, or other potential invaders. These groups do not generally exceed more than four individuals.
- Female raccoons live either solitarily or in small social groups referred to as a “fission-fusion society”. They share a common area and often meet up at feeding or resting grounds. They generally will stick together in this protective group until one of them grows pregnant and joins the third social class of raccoons.
- Since male raccoons often are violently disposed towards unrelated kits (baby raccoons), pregnant female raccoons almost always separate themselves from all other raccoons and begin to nest in a safe place. They will stay isolated from other adult raccoons until their kit are big enough to defend themselves.
Raccoon Home Ranges
The size and shape of the home range depends on many factors, such as the raccoons size, age, sex, and habitat. Depending on all of these factors, a raccoon’s home range can vary anywhere from 1 to 20 square miles.
It also does not exactly matter if a group of raccoon’s home range overlaps with that of other groups as long as it’s not mating season and there are sufficient amounts of food. Important areas such as latrines or watering holes will be marked with odor marks. These marks help to establish individual presence and home ranges of groups.
Raccoon Mating Season
Raccoons generally mate in a period between late January and halfway through March. Although this is generally a raccoons mating season, there are large differences regionally which are not entirely explained by solar conditions; In some areas raccoons mate later or earlier than average.
During this time male raccoons will be in a constant search for females who are fertile for a total of about a four-day period. When a male encounters a female to mate with, it will usually be at a central meeting place of a raccoon’s home range. The whole mating process can last over an hour including foreplay, and will be repeated over several days.
Females will generally mate with just one male, while about a third will mate with more than one. If a female is not successfully impregnated or loses her kit, she may become fertile again sooner than normal.
Females raise their kits and the male has absolutely no hand in their lives. Mothers will usually have their kits weaned by about 16 weeks of age. The mother will make sure her babies are familiar with different dens and feeding grounds in her home range. Once they reach the juvenile stage, her babies will generally split up from each other. Males can move quite far from home, while females generally stick pretty close to home.
Don’t Let Your Home Be “Home Range”
Living with raccoons in or around your home is dangerous and unhealthy for you and your family. Keep reading our blogs for all the dangers raccoons and raccoon social behavior can cause you.
If you have a raccoon infestation, let one of our experts call you today!