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Raccoons

( Originally Published 1936 )

These animals are almost exclusively American, though one genus, AElurus, scarcely differing sufficiently to be placed in a distinct family, is found in India. They are small animals that walk wholly, or partially, on the soles of their feet, and have long ringed tails.

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

The Raccoon, common throughout a considerable portion of North America, is a small bear-like animal with a thick body, pointed muzzle, the face marked and the bushy tail ringed with black and white, the fur greyish brown, fine and soft. Plate 7, Fig. 33. It feeds on all sorts of animal and vegetable substances, is nocturnal in habits, sleeping during the day, and in cold climates hibernates in hollow trees. The Raccoon has a curious habit, and one not fully understood, of washing its food in water before eating. Among the Southern negroes, particularly before the Civil War, hunting this animal by torchlight was a favourite amusement, large parties going out on moonlight nights in search of it. The men were accompanied by dogs that trailed the Raccoon to a tree, when it was either shot from its perch or the tree was cut down. A determined fighter when at-tacked, it will, if possible, retreat to water and try to drown its enemies, seizing and holding them under the water to the best of its ability.

Red Coati (Nasua rufa)

The Coati of South America closely resembles the raccoon in general habits, though not in appearance, having an extremely long and delicate, slightly up-turned nose, and a long and pointed tail that is carried upright above the back in walking. See Plate 6, Fig. 29. It is a tree-living animal, larger than the raccoon, and defends itself with the same bravery. The long snout is a very useful member, the animal running about and poking it into the crevices and holes of trees in its search for food. There are several species of this creature, but they differ little except in the colour of the fur, which in some is quite red and in others a dark brown. It has not the strange trick of washing its food in water, like the raccoon.



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