Raccoons

Raccoon (Spruceline Farm, May 2013)

Raccoon (Spruceline Farm, May 2013)

We found this little one sleeping in the sunshine, beside the garden one morning in spring.  This was the first sunny day after many days of cold, wet weather.  I think that he/she had the right idea – taking time to soak up the rays.

What do raccoons eat in the Autumn?

My dog Basil and I found this large raccoon scat in the sand ring just north of my house while walking to my sitspot one chilly autumn morning.  I could see evidence of apple, corn and mysterious purple berries in the raccoon’s diet. At first glance, I thought that the funny white seeds looked like seasame seeds or maybe some sort of horrible parasite…

Raccoon Scat with Mystery Seeds,  October 2015

Raccoon Scat with Mystery Seeds, October 2015

It appeared that the white seeds were from the purple berries.  This inspired me to go on a purple berry scavenger hunt.  First, I opened up wild grapes.  There were a couple of larger seeds inside.  I opened buckthorn berries next and found a couple of larger seeds inside again.  I opened a Virginia Creeper berry and was surprised to discover white juice oozing out along with a large seed.  I could not find any other purple berries.  I shrugged my shoulders and started to head home along the edge of the soybean field.  Suddenly a low, nightshade-looking plant caught my eye.

Eastern Black Nightshade, October 2015

Eastern Black Nightshade, October 2015

Sure enough, I could see dark-coloured berries on it.  Some of the berries were missing.  I opened up a berry and Voila!  A bazillion (exageration) seasame-like seeds came out.

Eastern Black Nightshade Seeds

Eastern Black Nightshade Seeds

I had found the mystery plant that the raccoon had been voraciously eating.  It was Eastern Black Nighshade.  Naturally, I was curious about whether the plant can be eaten by humans.  Here is one article that I found interesting:

http://foragersharvest.com/black-nightshade-2/

Raccoon Tracks

Raccoon Tracks (Guelph Lake Nature Centre, March 2015)

Raccoon Tracks (Guelph Lake Nature Centre, March 2015)

This is a classic left front foot beside a right rear foot.  The nails on the front foot register nicely in the soil.  The rear nails do not seem to register well in the soil.  This photo was taken approximately 24 hours after the tracks were made.  The muddy substrate had frozen over night, capturing the tracks beautifully in the frosty soil at the summit of the crazy carpet hill.

Raccoon Tracks (Guelph Lake, September 2014)

Raccoon Tracks (Guelph Lake, September 2014)

Here is an amusing set of raccoon tracks:

Rockwood CA, July 2014

Rockwood CA, July 2014

These tracks were found on the bench of a picnic table at the Rockwood Conservation area.  The tracks were grease-stained into the bench. We imagined that this raccoon had probably helped him/herself to some bacon grease from the garbage can and then had jumped onto the table, looking for leftover food.

While visiting Sauble Beach near Chief’s Point, we found a trail of raccoon tracks in the wet sand.

Raccoon Track, Sauble Beach, June 2014

Raccoon Track, Sauble Beach, June 2014

Raccoon Trail

june 2014 025

Raccoon Scat

Raccoon Scat (Guelph Lake Nature Centre, March 2015)

Raccoon Scat (Guelph Lake Nature Centre, March 2015)

This pile of raccoon scat was located beside a sliding door on the balcony.  A resident raccoon seems to have chosen this location as a latrine site.  Warning: Raccoon scats can carry the parasitic roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis which can be fatal to humans.

Raccoon Claw Marks

Raccoon Claw Marks on a Birch Tree (Algonquin Park, August 2014)

Raccoon Claw Marks on a Birch Tree (Algonquin Park, August 2014)

Do raccoons eat any part of birch trees?  Sap? Catkins?

Raccoon Den

The Nature Guelph tracking club met at the Cumnock Forest Tract in March, 2013.  This proved to be an excellent opportunity to trail a raccoon to his/her den in a hollow tree, where we could see a large, furry raccoon bottom wedged into this hole:

Raccoon home, Cumnock Tract (March, 2013)

Raccoon home, Cumnock Tract (March, 2013)

*This photo shows some good details re: raccoon claws marks and raccoon hair at the base of the entrance.

Raccoon Den (Luther Marsh, February 2015)

Raccoon Den (Luther Marsh, February 2015)

There were three raccoons snuggled into this den in an old maple tree.  The den was approximately 10 metres up the trunk and one raccoon was intent to climb on the backs of his/her siblings to get to a higher location in the hollow tree.

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