- Johnson, Robert
University of Maine Graduate School
In these studies an attempt was made to determine the foods, feeding habits, population, home range, parasites, and facts about hibernation of raccoons in Maine. Techniques for increasing the food supply and breeding stock for these animals were also tried out on an experimental area in Weld, Maine. These phases were to determine a feasible manner of managing raccoons in the wild.
The feeding habits study was made by analyzing the stomach contents, fecal material, and scats of raccoons taken from August, 1938, to January, 1939. The summer diet of sweet corn, insects, wild cherries, and frogs formed a conspicuous difference from the fall and winter diet of raccoons, which consisted chiefly of beechnuts, acorns, and small mammals. By hunting raccoons with a hound the population for these animals about Weld was estimated to be one raccoon to every 650 acres with a home range of about 1.25 miles.
Only nine raccoons of the 29 examined were infested with parasites. One ectoparasite, Trichodectes octomaculatus, was found, while four different internal parasites were present in the small intestines. The tapeworm, Mesocestoides lineatus, was most commonly found, however it was present only in small numbers per animal. None of the six raccoons which had been in hibernation had any external or internal parasites.
Raccoons probably hibernated for the first time in 1938 on November 23, about Weld, Maine. Hibernating raccoons show a large deposition of fat over the body and have a small fecal plug i the rectal end of the large intestine.
On the experimental study area, small food patches of corn and buckwheat were planted. A small stream was stocked with frogs and crayfish to increase the animal food supply for raccoons in the wild. Raccoons utilized the corn food patches and signs about the frog ponds indicated that they probably ate some of the frogs. Other suggested techniques for managing raccoons in the wild are: the marking of suitable den trees to be saved from cutting, releasing old orchards, improving small fruits, planting red oak and beech orchards, and releasing raccoon breeding stock on proposed management areas. An open hunting season, November 1 to December 31, is suggested to increase raccoon population and thus provide better sport to hunters and more furs of prine quality to the trapper.