Local Wildlife


Picture of Raccoon
Scientific Name: Procyon lotor
Photo Source: David Menke / Public domain
More Info: Univ. of Michigan

Distiguishable by the black "mask" across their eyes and black rings on their tails, raccoons live in Sunriver...but are rarely seen. Because they are nocturnal creatures, many visitors may never even see one. If you want to meet this Sunriver resident, your best bet is to take the northern bike path that runs along the Deschutes river at dusk. This forested area near water is a favorite habitat and at dusk, they are just getting ready for a night of foraging. In late summer, you might even be lucky enough to see a family.

The raccoon is commonly associated with "washing" its food. However, this behavior is generally only practiced by animals in captivity. With forepaws resembling slender human hands, the raccoon is unusually dextrous compared to other animals. Their coloration can range from grey to reddish brown to a dark buff.

Raccoons prefer to den in trees but may also use woodchuck burrows, caves, mine shafts, deserted buildings, barns, or garages. They are omnivorous and opportunistic when it comes to eating. In most habitats fruits and nuts comprise the larger part their diet. The remainder is made up of animals such as crayfish, insects, rodents, frogs, and bird eggs. In addition, they have adapted to include trash and other food available in urban areas in their diet.

Raccoons are primarily solitary creatures except during mating season (which runs from late winter through early spring) and when the female is still caring for her young. The female generally has one litter of three to five young per year and cares for them until the following year.

Although at times during the winter months raccoons may sleep for extended periods of time, they do not actually hibernate. With their keen sense of hearing they are especially alert and have excellent night vision. They are able to climb with ease and are strong swimmers (though without waterproof fur they are reluctant to do so).