Aspects of raccoon life history in west-central Illinois

Charles M. Nixon, P. C. Mankin, Terry L. Esker, J. B. Sullivan, A. A. Rothering, R. D. Bluett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Raccoons (Procyon lotor) were livetrapped and marked during 1989–1993 in an agriculturally dominated landscape in Brown County, west-central Illinois. Densities averaged 4.5 per km2 with males dominating in the younger age classes (2 yrs) and females in older raccoons. Breeding rates averaged 46% for yearling females and 87% for adult females, with yearlings contributing about 20% of annual production. Juvenile survival rate averaged 74% between birth and 6 months. Both sexes continued to gain body weight into their 3rd year with males consistently heavier (P 0.03) than females. Males lost body condition in winter while females remained in a more stable condition through-out the year. Dispersal behavior was more pronounced in males. Females of all age classes remained on the study area somewhat longer (P 0.05) than males. Males were more likely to die from hunting and trapping causes while females were more likely than males to die of disease. Seasonal home ranges were similar for both sexes (P 0.05) but male ranges averaged somewhat larger areas. We found no evidence that west-central Illinois raccoons were territorial as a paired removal experiment showed no attempt by the remaining member of each pair to make directed movements into a vacated range. Our study animals appeared to be above average in weight and condition, to be breeding at a level consistent with a healthy condition and to be generally under-harvested.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
JournalTransactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009


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