Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are mammals with a high capacity for adaptation. They are mainly nocturnal, but they can be seen occasionally active during the day, especially when they care for juveniles or find the opportunity to access some source of food.
The crab-eating raccoon or South American raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) is a species of raccoon native to marshy and jungle areas of Central and South America (including Trinidad and Tobago). It is found from Costa Rica south through most areas of South America east of the Andes down to northern Argentina and Uruguay. That it is called the crab-eating raccoon does not mean that only this species eats crabs, as the common raccoon also seeks and eats crabs where they are available.
The crab-eating raccoon eats crab, lobster, crayfish and other crustaceans and shellfish, such as oysters and clams. It is an omnivore and its diet also includes, for example, small amphibians, turtle eggs, and fruits. It resembles its northern cousin, the common raccoon, in having a bushy ringed tail and “bandit mask” of fur around its eyes. Unlike the common raccoon, the hair on the nape of the neck points towards the head, rather than backward. The crab-eating raccoon also appears to be more adapted to an arboreal lifestyle than the common raccoon, with sharper, narrower claws. It also is better adapted for a diet of hard-shelled food, with most of the cheek teeth being larger than those of the common raccoon, with broader, rounded cusps. Although the crab-eating raccoon can appear smaller and more streamlined than the common raccoon due to its much shorter fur and more gracilebuild, the crab-eating raccoon is of similar dimensions to the northern species. Head and body length is 41 to 80 cm (16 to 31 in), tail length is 20 to 56 cm (8 to 22 in) and height at the shoulder is about 23 cm (9 in). Weights can range from 2 to 12 kg (4 to 26 lb), though are mostly between 5 and 7 kg (11 and 15 lb). Males are usually larger than the females.
Where do raccoons live in Costa Rica?
The raccoon lives in practically any type of environment, as long as it has nearby water, preferably throughout the year. In times of abundance of fruits it tends to move away from the water, but during the dry season it returns to the humid places of its habitat where it always obtains food.
The raccoon is very common in the Central Pacific especially in national parks, which are visited by more than a million people a year. Its original habitat is mixed or deciduous forests, along with water courses. As is the case in the video where this animal is observed on the property of Mangrove Birding Journeys.
What do raccoons eat?
It is considered omnivorous, since it includes mammals, frogs, reptiles, crustaceans, fish, insects, fruits and seeds in its diet.
Raccoon’s behavior in National Parks
The best example is the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is visited by almost half a million people a year due to the beauty of its beaches and forests, about 198 kilograms of foreign food enter the forests of the place. In the park, it is common for raccoons, coatis and capuchin monkeys to steal food from bags when tourists are distracted on the beach or bathing in the sea.
The park rangers do a search at the entrance and most of the foods are fruits, sandwiches and energy bars, however, some people enter with fried foods, cookies and other types of food that are not allowed and that are very easy for raccoons to access .
For the raccoon, external foods can cause health problems. Some people think that if a raccoon steals a banana it is not serious because it is fruit, but it is not taken into account that the fruits they eat are different, a banana has a lot of sugar, it can be healthy for us humans, but not for they.
The raccoon in urban areas of Costa Rica.
Raccoons have adapted very well to living in urban areas, where they can feed on garbage and pet food. Many times they enter garages or attics in search of food. When harassed by humans or pets, they can be very aggressive. Usually their attitude is indifferent and they just observe human activity with curiosity.
Mating takes place during the months of January and February, with litters being born in April or May depending on the weather. The care of the young is the responsibility of the females. In late summer, they become independent from their mothers. When the winter weather is severe they can become lethargic, although they do not hibernate.
AMAZING MOMENTS WITH RACCOONS: During one of our daily boat tours we were able to capture the intent of a Northern Raccoon trying to jump in the back of an American Crocodile. We were so close to witness a hypothetical situation with only one video proof of it. Apparently these sneaky wild animals use large reptiles as a sort of boat taxi. There is a very well known video of such happening in the USA, for many consider a masterpiece of photoshop but since we witness nearly the same we can comfortably support that such video clip is not a fake.