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Crab-Eating Racoon Fact File

Procyon cancrivorus

Credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

2-12kg

(4.5-26.5lbs)

Length

45-90cm

(18-35.5in)

Lifespan

Wild 5 years

Captive 19 years

Diet

Omnivore

Fruit, Fish, Crabs

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

Crab eating racoons are native to parts of South and Central America where they are found close to a water source.

This provides the location for their foraging activities to occur. As an omnivorous species they will feed both on the crustaceans from which their name is derived along with fruit, eggs, insects, seeds and more.

Females may produce a litter with as many as 7 young (known as kits). At birth the kits are blind but the eyes open by 3 weeks old and they become independent within 8 months and breed in the next season.

Crab-eating racoons do not share the adaptability to human disturbance seen in the similar northern racoon. They are affected through hunting and habitat loss.

Read on to learn more about these marvellous mammals.

Appearance

What does the crab-eating racoon look like?

Crab-eating racoons can be distinguished from their better known cousins such as the northern racoon due to their slimmer build and shorter coat. This difference is a result of crab-eating racoons not having the thick, insulating underfur seen in similar species.

One of their defining features is the mask of black fur running across both eyes. Across the rest of the body they feature mostly brown or grey fur which is grizzled with black.

Trailing behind the body is a tail of between 20 and 56cm (8-22in) long. It is patterned with alternating light and dark brown colored bands.

Their paws are very well developed and they use them to seek out food and then break it up and place it in their mouth.

An average crab-eating racoon will measure 45-90cm (18-35.5in) with a weight between 2 and 12kg (4.5 and 26.5lbs). Males tend to be slightly larger than females.

Diet

What does the crab-eating racoon eat?


Crab eating racoons are omnivores feeding on a range of crustaceans, fish, eggs, frogs, insects and seeds. This is affected by seasonal variation.

They have excellent night vision which will allow them to determine if food is ripe and ready for them to consume. Their teeth are stronger than related animals to help crush the hard shells of the crustaceans in their diet.

Much of their foraging activity is undertaken near or in the water.

Crab-eating racoon

Credit: Steven G. Johnson, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range

Where can you find the crab-eating racoon?

The crab-eating racoon is native of South and Central America. Here they occur in the following countries – Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guyana; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Uruguay and Venezuela.

Within Costa Rica, Panama and in the Caribbean region they share their habitat with the related Northern racoon.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the crab-eating racoon live in?

They make their home in forests and wetlands. Crab-eating racoons are associated with water where they will forage for food. Records do exist of them travelling in to forest away from water courses and being successful through.

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Reproduction

How does the crab-eating racoon produce its young?

A male will maintain mating rights over any females with which his range overlaps. Often a younger male will challenge him for control and may be able to take over these females. Females stop mating once they fall pregnant.

Breeding takes place between July and September.

After mating the male has no further involvement with his young.

Females give birth to an average litter of between 3 and 4 young at a time. Some have been recorded with as many as 7 individuals though. These are born after a 60-73 day incubation period. They are raised in a tree hollow which is lined with grass and dry leaves.

At birth the young have no teeth, little fur and the eyes are closed. Their eyes will open after three weeks.

Young remain in this nest till between 7 and 9 weeks old. Following this they begin to take short outings with their mother. Weaning takes place between 7 weeks and 4 months old.

The juveniles will become independent by 8 months old.

In the event a female loses her young early in the season she may mate again and produce another litter.

Juvenile crab-eating racoons are referred to as kits.

Sexual maturity is reached by one year old.

Behavior

What does the crab-eating racoon do with its day?

Crab-eating racoons are active at night. They have excellent night vision to help find their way around but are color blind. During the day they will rest in a tree hollow.

Each crab-eating racoon will maintain a home range. Those of males overlap the range of multiple females. He has mating rights over these females.

They are considered a solitary species only coming together to breed.

These animals are highly mobile moving with ease on land, through the trees and in the water.

A range of vocalizations are produced by the crab-eating racoon.

Crab-eating racoon

Credit: Steven G. Johnson, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the crab-eating racoon?

Crab-eating racoons are considered to be naturally rare in much of their range. They have not shown the ability to adapt that other members of their genus, Procyon have.

These animals are hunted and captured for their fur, the pet trade and even just for target practice. Habitat destruction and alteration to the wetlands on which they rely is also an ongoing threat.

Quick facts

This animal is also known as the mapache or osito lavador.

Crab-eating racoon

Credit: Ryskas, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Reid, F., Helgen, K. & González-Maya, J.F. 2016. Procyon cancrivorusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41685A45216426. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41685A45216426.en. Downloaded on 02 October 2021.

Genomics.senescence.info. 2021. Crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) longevity, ageing, and life history. [online] Available at: <https://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Procyon_cancrivorus> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

Pró-Carnívoros. 2021. Crab-eating Raccoon – Pró-Carnívoros. [online] Available at: <https://procarnivoros.org.br/en/animais/crab-eating-raccoon/> [Accessed 3 October 2021].

Maraj, S., 2011. Procyon cancrivorus (Crab-eating Raccoon). [online] The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago. Available at: <https://sta.uwi.edu/fst/lifesciences/sites/default/files/lifesciences/documents/ogatt/Procyon_cancrivorus%20-%20Crab-eating%20Raccoon.pdf> [Accessed 3 October 2021].

Prasad, S., 2021. 5 Quick Facts About The Crab-eating Raccoon. [online] Things Guyana. Available at: <https://www.thingsguyana.com/5-quick-facts-about-the-crab-eating-raccoon/> [Accessed 3 October 2021].

Castagnino, R., 2021. What sets crab-eating raccoons apart from other carnivores? | Candid Animal Cam. [online] Mongabay Environmental News. Available at: <https://news.mongabay.com/2021/08/what-sets-crab-eating-raccoons-apart-from-other-carnivores-candid-animal-cam/> [Accessed 3 October 2021].

Phillips, N. 2005. "Procyon cancrivorus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 02, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Procyon_cancrivorus/

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