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Are raccoons rodents

Are Raccoons Rodents?


Raccoons, with distinctive masks and dexterous front paws, are unique little animals that seem to pique intrigue in everyone. A common topic of interest is whether raccoons are rodents, or if they fall under another category entirely. 

In this article, we'll compare the defining traits of rodents to those of raccoons to confirm where they sit in the animal kingdom.

What Defines a Rodent?

Rodents, a diverse group of mammals, are known for their sharp, continuously growing incisors which they use for gnawing. This family, scientifically termed Rodentia, includes familiar creatures like mice, rats, squirrels, and beavers.

These animals share key characteristics such as a pair of incisors in each jaw, a predominantly herbivorous diet, and a widespread presence across various continents. When we think of rodents, we often picture small, furry creatures with a penchant for scurrying and a remarkable adaptability to different environments.
Comparing a raccoon's teeth to that of a rodent

Raccoons – An Overview

Raccoons, with their recognizable faces and ringed tails, are unlike other animals, within or outside the Rodentia family. These nocturnal mammals are noted for their nearly human-like front paws and intelligent, curious nature. Raccoons are adaptable and often found in urban as well as rural settings.

Their diet is omnivorous, ranging from fruits and nuts to small animals, and they are known for their remarkable problem-solving skills. Misconceptions about raccoons abound, often painting them as mischievous or even as pests, but in reality, they play an essential role in their ecosystems.

Raccoons vs. Rodents – Clarifying the Confusion

Physical and Behavioral Differences

The distinction between raccoons and rodents lies in their physical and genetic makeup. Raccoons, members of the Procyonidae family, are larger and sturdier compared to typical rodents. Their dental structure is significantly different, with raccoons lacking the characteristic ever-growing incisors of rodents. Additionally, raccoons' front paws are remarkably versatile, capable of opening jars and unlocking gates, which sets them apart from the simpler limbs of rodents.

Why the Confusion?

The confusion often stems from some shared behaviors and habitats. Both raccoons and rodents can be found rummaging through garbage, living in urban environments, and displaying nocturnal activity.

However, these similarities are superficial. When one delves into their biological classification, lifestyle, and physical attributes, the differences become clear.

Raccoons have similar habits to rodents

Recommended Preventive Measures

Ensuring your property is less inviting to wildlife like raccoons involves several strategic steps. First and foremost, secure your garbage cans with tight-fitting lids or consider using wildlife-proof containers. Raccoons are skilled at opening simple lids, so adding a locking mechanism can be highly effective.

Keep your yard clean and free of food scraps. Regularly pick up any fallen fruits or nuts from your garden, as these can attract raccoons. If you have a compost pile, make sure it's well-contained and possibly fenced off to prevent easy access.

Trimming overhanging branches can also reduce raccoon activity, as these branches can serve as pathways onto your roof. Raccoons are excellent climbers and may use trees to access attics or other high points of your home for nesting.

Lastly, inspect your home for potential entry points, such as broken vents, loose siding, or gaps in the foundation. Raccoons can squeeze through surprisingly small openings, so sealing these areas is crucial. Use durable materials like metal mesh or solid metal plates, as raccoons can easily tear through weaker materials.

When to Call a Professional

If raccoons or other wildlife consistently appear on your property, especially during daylight for nocturnal animals like raccoons, it's a sign to enlist an expert. Also, any aggressive behavior from wildlife, such as growling or charging, is a serious concern, potentially indicating disease or protectiveness over offspring.

Signs of disease in wildlife, like erratic behavior or disorientation, should not be ignored. These symptoms can point to serious health issues like rabies. Moreover, significant property damage caused by wildlife, such as destroyed vents or roofs, often requires expert intervention.

In these scenarios, contacting wildlife control professionals ensures safe, humane handling and prevention of future incidents!

Conclusion

In summary, while raccoons don't fall in the rodent family, they do share some similar behaviors and habitats with rodents. Although raccoons are beneficial to their ecosystems, effective management and prevention can help keep them safely separate from your home. 

If you've noticed the persistent presence of raccoons in or around your home, especially during the day, don't wait to act. With high-quality, innovative products like the Rhino Excluders One Way Door, you can humanely remove nuisance pests from raccoons to bats and birds. 

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