The New Student's Reference Work/Raccoon
Raccoon (răk-koon′), a tree-climbing, nocturnal animal belonging to the bear family and restricted to North and South America. The common "coon" of the United States is widely distributed. It has a stout, clumsy body about two feet long without the tail, which is about a foot in length. The long, coarse hair of the body is grayish-brown, and the tail is ringed with black and white. The raccoon has a broad head and a pointed muzzle, and the face is crossed by a dark band which includes the eyes. The home of the animal is usually high up in the hollow of a large tree; here it rests by day and hibernates through the severe winter-weather. It is active at night, and, during the season of young corn, is often very destructive to the green ears. Besides corn, in season, its usual food is fish, crayfish and various mollusks, though it also eats mice, insects, fruits, small birds and eggs. It has the curious habit of washing or dousing its food repeatedly in the water, and by the Germans is therefore called the wash-bear. The common raccoon of South America is called the crab-eating raccoon. A coon-hunt on a moonlight night, with torches and dogs, is a common form of sport in the southern United States.