The raccoon (Procyon lotor, common raccoon, or coon) is a mammal. They are curious, clever, and solitary. Orginally from North America, they have spread through Central America, and live in various habitats. They have escaped in some parts of Eurasia (see map), and now live there as well. They are omnivorous. Its family is in the Caniformia, and related to the mustelids.
The raccoon's most distinctive features are its multi-purpose front paws, its facial 'mask', and its striped tail. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence. Studies show they are able to remember the solution to tasks for up to three years. Raccoons are usually nocturnal. Their food is about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates.
Most raccoons live in the wild. Being around humans does not bother them. They often nest in empty buildings, garages, sheds, and even the attics of houses. Raccoons do not hibernate in the winter. Those that live farther north, where it is colder, grow thick coats to keep them warm and spend long periods sleeping. Raccoons in captivity can live up to 20 years. In the wild, they usually live only 1-3 years.
Two other species of raccoon, the crab-eating raccoon (P. cancrivorus) and the Cozumel Island raccoon (P. pygmaeus) are extremely similar to the common raccoon. The crab-eating raccoon is quite widespread in eastern South America.