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Raccoons Stirring

2-16-18  raccoon tracks IMG_2312.jpg

Even in mid-February, there are signs of spring.  Tracks of animals that hole up during the cold winter months and emerge when the nights are warmer are starting to be seen.

Raccoons often seek shelter in dens for months at a time during the winter (they don’t technically hibernate, but experience torpor).  When night temperatures rise above freezing they abandon their hollow tree cavities, often following streams or visiting wetlands. Although they occasionally may forage for aquatic prey such as fish or crayfish, Raccoons in New England eat very little during the winter. Rather, they utilize the fat they store in the fall, which is often more than 40% of their body weight. By the time spring arrives, they may have lost half of their fall weight.

If you find tracks this time of year that lead to or away from a den they may well be those of a male Raccoon who has emerged to seek out a mate.

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11 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Interesting how ‘looking for a mate’ after winter trimming coincide.

    February 16, 2018 at 9:10 am

  2. Maggy

    Hi Mary,

    This morning at about 5:00 AM, I heard a lot of owl activity. There were two barred owls calling back and forth and quite a bit of cackling. Are they mating at this time? For some reason, I thought they were already raising their owlets.

    Thanks for your help.

    Maggy

    February 16, 2018 at 9:28 am

    • Hi Maggy,
      Yes, barred owls are in the peak of courtship — eggs are usually laid in March or April. Their caterwauling is something to behold!

      February 18, 2018 at 11:21 am

  3. Diane

    Raccoons have been out and about for several weeks here in SE, PA. Don’t know if their sounds are fighting or mating.

    February 16, 2018 at 9:56 am

  4. Guy Stoye Ann Bowes

    Yes, we’ve seen the raccoon tracks for couple of days now. Like to send photos of a mother raccoon who befriended us some years ago wh/Users/guystoyexfer/Desktop/DSCN3969_2_2.jpg
    /Users/guystoyexfer/Desktop/DSCN3909.jpg
    /Users/guystoyexfer/Desktop/DSCN3958.jpgom we named Raquel Raccoon.

    February 16, 2018 at 10:40 am

    • Hi Guy,
      I’m so sorry that WordPress doesn’t allow readers’ photos to come through. You can email me photos of Raquel, but other readers won’t see them, I’m afraid.

      February 18, 2018 at 11:18 am

  5. Peter Hollinger

    A few nights ago, my wife caught a raccoon on our patio table eating some leftover birdseed.

    February 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

  6. I saw tracks along the river just this morning, it followed the bank for a long way before veering off.

    February 16, 2018 at 4:15 pm

  7. Gwen Blodgett

    I enjoy all your subjects, but could you tell us about “stink bugs”, which have been showing up in my house occationally all winter and even now as spring approaches, …maybe one a day. What are they really called? I expect they would die in the cold if I put them outside, so I just kill them. They have a kind of a shield design on their backs, are a good inch long, and more or less brown in color. Thanks.
    Gwen

    February 17, 2018 at 9:09 am

  8. Great pic!

    July 1, 2018 at 10:01 am

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