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Raccoons

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Jenny
136562.  Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:24 pm Reply with quote

In 1934, the Reich Forestry Office, then led by Hermann Göring gave permission for raccoons imported from the USA and farmed for their fur to be released to "enrich the local fauna" outside Kassel, a small city north of Frankfurt.

More were released at the end of the war, when Allied bombs struck a fur breeding farm near Berlin, and still more in the 1960s, when NATO soldiers freed the raccoons they used as mascots after leaving their base in France.

"Raccoon pelts were a popular trophy for hunters back then," biologist Ulf Hohmann said. Around 20,000 were shot last hunting season, according to official statistics. But unfortunately for the denizens of a growing number of European capitals, they like cities. Now Hohmann says there are as many raccoons in some parts of Germany as in the major urban centres of the USA - one per hectare.

Moreover, they are spreading, and thousands have been seen in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and France. The Sun newspaper warned its readers that "Nazi raccoons" were "just across the Channel" and "on the warpath ... in a furry blitzkrieg".

Source: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,1390574,00.html

 
samivel
136645.  Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:00 pm Reply with quote

The Sun, eh? Cheeky fun-loving scamps.

 
feynmanMH42
253183.  Sun Jan 06, 2008 10:29 am Reply with quote

Here's an interesting link about keeping raccoons as an unusual pet.
http://www.mnsi.net/~remocoon/index2.htm

I also find the binomial name of the common raccoon, "Procyon lotor," quite interesting. "Procyon" means "small dog" or "small bear" and "lotor" means "washer." Procyon is also the name of the brightest star in Canis Minor (the lesser dog), its name presumably implying "lesser dog star." Curiously, like the main Dog Star (Sirius in Canis Major) it's a bright blue giant orbited by a white dwarf star - except it's smaller and not as luminous. I say we should officially nickname it the Raccoon Star. :)

And also my fursona is part raccoon so I'm quite at home in this topic!

 
Hans Mof
253197.  Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:26 am Reply with quote

Raccoons are colour blind. Even though they have an "inbuilt residual light amplifier" allowing them to see well in twilight and their eye's accommodation is, at 11 dioptres, more or less the same as in humans, sight is only a subordinate sense for the animals. Of more importance to them is the sense of smell and their hearing, with which they can detect worms digging in soil.

Their German name is Waschbär (washing bear) due to their habbit of "washing" their food. Though, hygiene is not likely to be the reason behind this behaviour. Raccoons will perform the same washing motions when there's no water available. In fact they are taking in objects by thoroughly touching them. About two thirds of a raccoon's sensory area in the cerebral cortex is specialised in interpreting tactile perception. Their liking for water may be due to water heightening their sense of touch or, maybe, raccoons just like the feel of it.

 
feynmanMH42
253217.  Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:54 am Reply with quote

Hans Mof wrote:

Their German name is Waschbär (washing bear) due to their habbit of "washing" their food. Though, hygiene is not likely to be the reason behind this behaviour. Raccoons will perform the same washing motions when there's no water available. In fact they are taking in objects by thoroughly touching them. About two thirds of a raccoon's sensory area in the cerebral cortex is specialised in interpreting tactile perception. Their liking for water may be due to water heightening their sense of touch or, maybe, raccoons just like the feel of it.


That explains the "lotor" part of "Procyon Lotor" then.

 
King of Quok
253320.  Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:58 pm Reply with quote

The raccoon's common name seems to derive from Virginian Algonquin, and may mean 'fox-like'. As well as Procyon lotor, there is also Procyon cancrivorus, the crab-eating raccoon, also known as the mapache or osito lavador, again, I would imagine, harking back to the animal's 'washing' of its food. The crab-eating raccoon lives in South America, by rivers, marshes or the sea, and is usually a little larger than its North American relative.

The true raccoons are not related to the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), which is a true canid; its Latin name means something along the lines of 'nocturnal small bear' and explicitly compares it to a raccoon. The dog is extinct in China but has been introduced into parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where it continues to spread (which I suppose means that a raccoon could actually come face-to-face with a raccoon dog) and is abundant in Japan, where it is incorporated into mythology as the mischeivous, shape-shifitng trickster Tanuki. The raccoon dog is unique among dogs in that hibernates, increasing its body weight prior to hibernation by almost a half. They also, oddly for dogs, climb extremely well.

 
feynmanMH42
253332.  Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:12 pm Reply with quote

A close relative of the raccoon is the Red Panda, which is definetely a contender for cutest animal alive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56Gvk2utPkI

There's been some debate as to whether pandas are in fact members of the bear family or the raccoon family, but until the advent of genetic testing, it was almost unanimously thought that red and giant pandas were very close relatives. However, it now turns out "panda bears" are in fact bears and red pandas are raccoon relatives. To make matters worse, when we hear "panda" we always think of giant pandas, yet the term was first used to describe red pandas!

 
King of Quok
253342.  Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:54 pm Reply with quote

I think that the lesser/red panda (Ailurus fulgens) has been moved out of the Procyonidae family, the raccoon family proper, and into family Ailuridae, in which it is the only living member (the others being fossils). Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)are in Ursidae, the bear family proper; they were known as mottled bears or particoloured bears prior to the twentieth century. It's rather odd, therefore, that both species binomial names refer to the Greek word 'ailuros' (my keyboard can't do Greek letters), meaning 'cat', since the cat family is about the only one they have not been affiliated with.

 
AlmondFacialBar
254648.  Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:19 pm Reply with quote

going back to the first post... that's weird. in 28 years living in germany i never saw i raccoon outside a zoo or a canadian cartoon series (BRING BACK THE RACCOONS!), but in seven years living here in ireland i've seen at least three in the wild. *confused*

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Sadurian Mike
254652.  Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote

On my Dad's second wedding in Berkshire, we went to a pub in the middle of nowhere (but staggering distance from the motel we were staying in).

After several pints and with closing time approaching, the barmaid/landlady suddenly plonks a raccoon on the bar, which proceeds to daintily eat Cheeselets out of an ashtray.

At that point, we all looked suspiciously at our drinks.

 

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