Despite their classification as carnivores, raccoons are really opportunistic omnivores (both meat-eater and plant-eater, as well as garbage can raider). Raccoons do not hibernate. They go through a period of decreased activity in the winter, which is referred to as torpor, but it is not technically hibernation. Winter also coincides with their mating season. So if you are used to seeing raccoons on your property and then saycome December you wonder where they have gone, they are either sleeping or...ahem...err...not sleeping.
The raccoon is one of the most vocal of night animals and during mating season will scream, mew, growl and whistle. Baby raccoons are especially vocal and a rehabber will quickly learn to distinguish their numerous different sounds. Some say the raccoon can make over 200 different sounds. Raccoons are inquisitive and seldom pass up the opportunity to investigate an interesting smell or crevice. They will probe a crack with their front feet and pull anything of interest from its hole for closer inspection. Raccoons are extremely agile climbers (and descend trees head-first) and have nimble feet, but they are flat-footed like humans and bears and are relatively slow runners.
Their rear legs are slightly longer than their front legs which, combined with their flat-footedness, causes them to waddle when they walk. The raccoons footprints resemble those of a human being. Because their front toes can be opened wide, the forepaws can be used skillfully to handle food and other objects. Using their sensitive hand-like front paws, they can catch fish and small prey and bring food to their mouths and hold it while they eat. With these tiny "hands", the raccoon can also open locks, unlatch bird feeders, open up garbage cans, etc.
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