Raccoons are mammals native to North America, and there are currently 23 recognized subspecies of the raccoon. About 16 of those species are indistinguishable from one another, but the remaining seven have major differences between them.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at all the types of raccoons found in North, Central, and South America.
- Eastern Raccoons
- Upper Mississippi Valley Raccoons
- Bahamian Raccoons
- Guadeloupe Raccoons
- Tres Marias Raccoons
- Conzumel Raccoons
- Crab-Eating Raccoons
- Other Raccoons
1. Eastern Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon lotor lotor
Eastern raccoons are the most widespread raccoons in the USA alongside Upper Mississippi Valley raccoons. They can be found in every single state north of Tennessee, and even in Canada.
They’re the second largest type of raccoon, with the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon taking the top spot.
However, they’re the species with the characteristic raccoon look – their fur is mostly dark with black spots around the eyes.
Eastern raccoons are intelligent animals, which many people found out the hard way, as they easily learn how to enter homes and find edible trash.
2. Upper Mississippi Valley Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon lotor hirtus
The largest type of raccoon in the world, these animals are found in areas surrounding the Upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, all the way to Alberta in Canada.
These raccoons have evolved a thicker coat in comparison to other species, which helps them through the cold winters of the north.
They also have the greatest travel range of all raccoons, as they’ll travel in a 6-mile radius when looking for food.
3. Bahamian Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon lotor maynardi
As the name suggests, this type of raccoon only occurs in the Bahamas – specifically on New Providence Island. It is an endemic species and they’re not found anywhere else in the world.
These types of raccoons in the Bahamas are characterized by their small size in comparison to the eastern raccoon and the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon.
Bahamian raccoons have a brighter coat, as it’s more grey than black and a very noticeable gap between the eyes.
The Bahamian Ministry of Health and Environment considers them a threat to the insular ecosystem and they plan on eradicating them* from the island.
*This is a download link to an official document issued by the Bahamian Government.
4. Guadeloupe Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon lotor minor
These raccoons are only found on the two main islands of the Lesser Antilles island group in the Caribbean Sea, called Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre.
Although smaller than the common eastern and Upper Mississippi Valley raccoons, Guadeloupe Raccoons are moderate-sized with a small skull. Their fur is thick and long, mostly dark in color.
Unfortunately, this type of raccoon in the Caribbean is an endangered species. Their habitat was never big to begin with, and with the spreading of urban environments, these raccoons are facing habitat destruction.
5. Tres Marias Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon lotor insularis
Unlike the previous two species, Tres Marias raccoons are quite large for this species (up to 36 inches in length), but they’re still not as large as eastern or Upper Mississippi Valley raccoons.
They’re the odd man out when it comes to island raccoons (a group consisting of Tres Marias raccoons, Guadeloupe raccoons, Bahamian raccoons, and Conzumel raccoons), as island raccoons are usually smaller than continental raccoons.
This species is currently critically endangered, with islanders of the Islas Marias hunting them, while the government is still not making any conservation efforts to prevent their extinction.
6. Conzumel Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon pygmaeus
Conzumel raccoons are a critically endangered species of raccoon living on Conzumel Island off the coast of Mexico. They’re very similar to the raccoons found in the USA, but they’re noticeably smaller – rarely reaching 30 inches.
In the wild, they primarily feed on crabs, fruits, and lizards, and they don’t have the luxury of North American raccoons to feed on leftovers from humans.
These types of raccoons in Mexico are being driven off the island by the sudden development of tourism, which includes habitat destruction with few conservation attempts made.
It’s important to point out that the Conzumel raccoon and the crab-eating raccoon are two species of the raccoon genus (Procyon), but they’re not subspecies of the common raccoon (Procyon lotor) like all the previous species on this list.
7. Crab-eating Raccoons
Scientific name: Procyon cancrivorus
This type of raccoon is also known as the South American raccoon since it’s found in Central and South America, as south as northern Uruguay. As the name suggests, they feed on crabs, but also on lobster, shellfish, fish, insects, and even fruits.
Because of their persistence on eating aquatic animals, they might be the most aquatic of all the raccoons.
They appear to be thinner and more agile than raccoons found in North America, with the males usually being larger than the females.
They’re the only type of raccoon in South America (not including the South American coati, which isn’t really a raccoon).
Another major difference between these raccoons and types of raccoons in North America is that crab-eating raccoons don’t like approaching human habitats and they’ll rather stay in the wild.
8. Other Raccoons
- Key Vaca raccoons (P.l. auspicatus)
- Florida raccoons (P.l. elucus)
- Snake River Valley raccoons (P.l. excelsus)
- Texas Raccoons (P.l. fuscipes)
- Baja California raccoons (P.l. grinnelli)
- Mexican plateau raccoons (P.l. hernandezii)
- Torch Key raccoons (P.l. incautus)
- Matecumbe Key raccoons (P.l. inesperatus)
- Saint Simon Island raccoons (P.l. litoreus)
- Ten Thousand Islands raccoons (P.l. marinus)
- Mississippi Delta raccoons (P.l. megalodous)
- Pacific Northerwest raccoons (P.l. pacificus)
- Colorado Desert raccoons (P.l. pallidus)
- California raccoons (P.l. psora)
- Isthmian raccoons (P.l. pumilus)
- Vancouver Island raccoons (P.l. vancouverensis)
The raccoons in this section are grouped together for two major reasons.
Firstly, most of them have small populations inhabiting very limited areas. Secondly, they’re all very similar and the differences are almost imperceptible (small differences in size and fur color).
An example of that is the Vancouver Island raccoon, which is found exclusively on Vancouver Island. They’re almost indistinguishable from the Pacific Northwest raccoon, with the only difference being their size (P.l. pacificus is larger).
The feeding and social habits of all of these types of raccoons are very similar – they’re omnivorous, unafraid of approaching human habitats, and often invasive towards humans and other animals.
Raccoons are very resourceful animals that have developed foraging, scavenging, and even hunting (albeit underdeveloped) skills to survive in the wild. They can be found in every state in the USA, and even most of Canada.
Some species can be found on certain Caribbean islands and in Central and South America. Unfortunately, many types of raccoons on islands are endangered because of the destruction of their already limited habitat.