Fat Raccoon

fat raccoon


01.13.2007 - This is one of the fattest raccoons that I've ever caught.  Interestingly, in the cage on the left, out of the photo is the actual fattest raccoon that I ever caught.  However, I decided to feature only a photo of this one, because I like how it is sitting.  It looks like a lazy blob, like Jaba the Hutt or something.  The one in this photograph weighed 22 pounds, and the one next to it was 29 pounds!  These sizes are very large for Florida raccoons, which rarely exceed 15 pounds.  Up north, raccoons this size are more common, and can even reach up to 50 pounds, but in FL mammals tend to the smaller sizes for better heat dissipation.

Neither of these raccoons was particularly large overall, just very round and plump.  They were both males, and not pregnant of course.  I caught them using marshmallows, though by the size of these specimens, it's my guess that someone has been feeding them.  It's possible that they've been raiding garbage cans or pet food, but I'm guessing that they got this fat from a steady stream of kibble left out by a cat collector or other animal nut.  While it's fun to feed wild animals, it's ultimately harmful in the long run.

I trapped and removed these raccoons because they were pooping in the customer's pool.  This is a very common raccoon behavior.  I simply set traps next to the pool steps, bait them, and voila!  I relocated these two fat raccoons, and I'm guessing that some leaner times lie ahead as they find new food to forage.

The raccoon (Procyon lotor), is a unique animal native to North America. It's not closely related to any other animals, with distant relatives such as bears and weasels. Coons are easy to recognize, with a black mask and ringed tail. Raccoons tend to weigh between 10-20 pounds as adults. They are mostly nocturnal, and are omnivores. Racoons average a lifespan of about 5 years in the wild, and have a litter of 3-6 young each spring. They are very strong, excellent climbers, very intelligent, and they are very skilled with their hands. Raccoons have learned to thrive in urban areas, and live in very high densities in cities, where they eat garbage and pet food. They commonly break into homes and attics, where they cause considerable damage, and they also destroy other property, and thus racoons are considered pest animals by many people. Raccoon control and removal, especially from inside homes, is best left to a professional.

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Raccoons are one of those animals that you cannot help but find cute. They are usually the size of a small dog and hence, their size compliments their overall features. They are round, have a bushy tail, and black circle of fur around their eyes. Other than the usual nuisance they can cause they are usually seen as harmless and cuddly animals. However, now the size of raccoons is increasing. They are now much bigger and obese and instead of radiating cuteness, they give a rather fearsome vibe.

A lot of people living in urban areas see raccoons as critters who are most likely to destroy their effort and hard work spent on their landscaping. These animals also ransack garbage bins by rummaging through it and then create a mess that people have to look clean up. It is not uncommon for urban dwellers to spend millions of dollars annually to make their bins raccoon-proof. But now with time, these raccoons are getting fat. You can see a lot of videos on the internet regarding an obese raccoon being stuck in a garbage can which further proves that this is a common occurrence.

Raccoons did not always feed on the garbage left by humans. They initially fed on bird's eggs, crayfish, grubs, berries, etc. As they ventured into urban areas, their feeding habits and diets evolved until they started thrashing the garbage bins looking for food and nibbling on leftovers. The reason why so many of the raccoons you spot these days are incredibly bulky and obese is because they feed on the leftovers of people and the diets of people have also evolved. Fast-food is usually preferred by people and the same greasy food is then thrown into the garbage. When raccoons consume foods high in fat and sugar, naturally they gain weight and get obese.

A study was also conducted to observe the effect of diet on raccoons. There were 3 groups of raccoons with 20 in each group that had varying access to garbage food. One had limited access, the other had moderate access, and the last had the most access available at the zoo. The group with the most access to garbage food gained an average of 2 kg more than the other groups. They also had much higher blood glucose levels.

Like any other species that is obese, it can cause a lot of problems related to health. Consuming such foods not only makes the raccoons overweight but also increase the levels of glucose in the blood. This eventually leads to the clogging of arteries. Since these are urban raccoons and are no pets of any individual of family, all signs and symptoms go unnoticed and untreated until eventually, the raccoons develop a heart problem. This often leads to premature death. This is not surprising as they are undergoing the same medical consequences that any other animal with increased levels of glucose would experience.

Fat raccoons are more than just being cuddly and getting stuck in a garbage bin. It signals a health crisis for raccoons which is a result of unhealthy eating patterns and negligence.

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