A raccoon is a kind of mammal commonly found in North America. It resides in forests but has the capacity to adapt to other environments such as marshlands and cities. This particular mammal is the largest known member of the procynid in the order carnivora.
Raccoons usually breed in during late January and mid-March when there is an increase in daylight. However, this is not always the case in that some locations have raccoons exhibiting breeding patterns that are not dependent on the amount of light. For example, raccoons in the south mate much later than raccoons found elsewhere. When it comes to conception, it is only possible with raccoons in periods lasting three to four days.
When it is time to look for a mate, male raccoons wander around their territories to look for females they can breed with. The mating usually happens in a centralized location where numerous raccoons can congregate to find a partner. The act of copulation can last for as long as an hour and can be repeated with the same partner over several nights. Nondominant males also get the chance to breed because the stronger males are unable to mate with all the females in the area. However, raccoons are not monogamous during the breeding season as females are found to mate with several males.
The usual period of gestation among raccoons is 63 to 65 days, although it is possible to last as long as 70 days. A litter is typically composed of two to five young. The average number of young produced varies from location to location. For example, raccoons in Alabama have an average of three young while those in North Dakota show five per litter. The pattern when it comes to the size of the litter is that more are produced in areas with a high mortality rate. For example, if an area is more prone to extreme weather conditions such as winters, the average litter size increases.
The offspring, also called kits or cubs, are both blind and deaf when they are born. They are dependent on their mothers alone as the males do not take part in the raising process. While they are not able to see or hear, the kits already have visible masks and fur. Kits open their eyes a few days after birth followed by the opening of the ear canals at around three weeks. The development of the litter takes time as they only begin to consume solid food at around six weeks.
Female raccoons will reach sexual maturity before their female counterparts. Male raccoons live for several years before they reach sexual maturity while females attain it within a year. Once reproduction is in place, males behave in a hostile manner toward a litter not their own. Thus female raccoons live in isolation until their kits are able to fend for themselves during attacks.