The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is native to North America and was introduced to Russia and Europe in the 20th century for fur production. Over the years small wild populations have been established in some European countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Belgium with occasional sightings in many Dutch provinces. Whilst it looks similar to the Raccoon dog the two species are not related and raccoons can be distinguished by their shorter legs, black striped tail and black facial mask which contrasts with a white snout and forehead. They are solitary, nocturnal animals feeding on rodents, amphibians, fish, insects and fruit. They may hibernate in colder regions, awaking only to mate in February and giving birth to young in late spring. They sleep in holes in trees, rocks or ruins, moving to a new resting place every few days.
More information about the raccoon (Procyon lotor) can be found (in Dutch) on the website of the Dutch native mammal research and protection organisation (Zoogdiervereniging).
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