Friday, June 22, 2012

How Does a Raccoon Scratch Its Backside?

Exactly as you'd imagine!

Actually, the individuals captured on these video clips are probably depositing scent from their glands.....

There are scents in the stakes in these video clips, which I believe are eliciting this response.

Regardless of whether they are scratching or depositing scent....seeing these clips makes me happy that I wear gloves when I change out the scents in those stakes!!

There seems to be some disagreement among raccoon authorities about whether they are primarily solitary....or whether they run in loose social groups (particularly females).  In the first video clip above, we clearly have an example of two individuals moving together.  According to Zeveloff (2002) they frequently have overlapping home ranges, so don't regularly defend territories (especially when resources are high).  Odors (like gland secretions, urine and feces) can be used to mark home range boundaries and leave information about their presence to other raccoons.  I would assume the individual above is marking his/her home range.  The second video clip could be of a different individual depositing a reply to the first raccoon that left his or her message.

Literature Cited
Zeveloff, S.I. 2002. Raccoons: a natural history. Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C..


  1. Anecdotal and I could go through my data and get an exact number, but more often than not I get multiple raccoons in a visit rather than solitary raccoons.

    I guess the question is: Are these raccoons all related? Is it mom with adult sized kits? The sets are usually in resource rich areas so like you suggested that may have something to do with it.

  2. Too funny. Butt scratching raccoons:)) Come to think of it, the only time I have seen raccoons together on the trail is when it is a mother with her young. The only times I have seen adults together is when garbage is involved. Interesting post!


  3. Ya....I've seen more than one together on numerous occassions....but as you both point out....I don't know if that's just a mom with adult-sized young (again....assuming there's no food source involved).

    I don't have the book next to me right now because I'm at home, but I'm fairly certain Zevelof called them straight up solitary the majority of the time...but others have been more open to loose social groups...but these were very loose, such as having overlapping home ranges and occassionally coming together (I think Gehrt promoted this idea, but I honestly can't remember....).