Florida raccoons are common throughout the entire state of Florida and are typically smaller than those farther north. The word " Raccoon " is derived from " Arakun ", an Algonquin word meaning " he scratches with his hands". This originates from the fact that raccoons possess a far greater manual dexterity than other small mammals and have a highly developed sense of touch. Their paws are comprised of what looks to be slender fingers that provide for great climbing capabilities as they flee from danger or climb for food such as the seeds of our state tree, the Cabbage Palm.

They are at least as intelligent as cats or dogs and in captivity have lived up to 20 years, whereas in the wild have a life span of 2-3 years typically. They are not fussy when it comes to their diet. They graze on a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, eggs, insects, frogs, fish and small mammals. Raccoons are one of the few wild species that appears to have benefited from contact with humans and have adapted very well to city life in many urban areas. Studies have shown that raccoon populations can be up to 20 times more in urban settings that in the rural, more natural settings.

Although cute and curious, raccoons can carry diseases such as distemper and rabies. Sanibel and Captiva visitors and residents may remember a time when there were many more raccoons on the islands until distemper, a disease that can kill raccoons when populations get too dense, greatly reduced the islands raccoon population. Nowadays, it's not that common to see them but if you do, enjoy from a distance. They are pretty photogenic as you can see in this photo of two young raccoons peering down from the crown of a cabbage tree. They were as interested in my as I was of them for sure.