Common Raccoon
(North American Raccoon)
(Procyon lotor)

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Invasive Status
Invasive Population increasing
Natural Range
  • North America
Introduced Range
  • West and central Europe

Zoological parks

Fur trade


Predation of native species

Spread of illness and parasites

Property damage

Control Methods

Privately-funded extermination

The common raccoon (Procyon lotor), known also as the northern raccoon, North American raccoon, just raccoon or colloquially even coon, is the most familiar of the three raccoon species. It has been introduced into Germany from USA and, having adapted to the local conditions, has spread it's range into the surrounding countries.


Natural RangeEdit

The common raccoon is native North America, with it's range covering the whole of mainland North America excluding east Panama, part of north Baja California, parts of the Colorado Plateau and most of Canada, as well as the whole of Alaska. This northern range barrier is around the 53rd parallel north (53 latitudinal degrees), though parts of the range extend beyond this, or not as far as this. [1]

The raccoon is present throughout much of Germany and centers around this country, as it is also present in north-east France, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Belarus, parts of former Yugoslavia and European Russia. [2/3]Edit

The species has even reached as far as Spain, with populations in Madrid, Guadalajara and Mallorca. [5]

Additionally, a common raccoon was spotted in the wild in Cork county, Republic of Ireland in 2011 (as evidenced by a photograph). This sparked concern but no additional sightings have been made. The raccoon was probably only a single escapee (probably a pet) and not part of an invasive population. [4]

Pathways and IntroductionEdit

The first European common raccoons were animals from the Zoological Garden of Hamburg were released in Northern Hesse in Germany in 1927. A further two pairs were released in the same region in 1934. More were released near Berlin in 1935. The first European litter was recorded 20km from the release site in Hesse in 1951. Raccoon fur farms were set up in Berlin during the Second World War, from which some raccoons escaped. [2]

Common raccoons were introduced into European Russia in 1936, as well as Belarus (then Belorussia) in 1954 and 1958. Most of these populations died out but in northern Caucasus and the north-west coasts of the Black Sea populations were established and expanded. [2]

Both populations expanded further to the range observed nowadays. [2]

Additional, more sporadic populations probably developed from released or escaped pets. [5]


Common raccoons take eggs from bird nests and are also effective predators of amphibians. Raccoons also carry raccoon roundworm, a parasite which can be dangerous to other mammal and even bird species. Other infections could also be transmitted by the raccoons to other species, possibly including humans.**** Such diseases include rabies which, though wiped out in Western Europe, is still present in Eastern Europe. [5]

Additionally, raccoons can attempt to make shelter in house attics and damage the properties in the process, for example by damaging insulation. [6]

Control and Removal MethodsEdit

The most notable method for removal of he common raccoon is by privately-funded extermination, including the use of purpose-built traps. [6]


1 National Geographic

2 NOBANIS invasive species fact sheet (pdf)

3 NOBANIS (website)

4 National Biodiversity Data Centre national invasive species database (R. o. Ireland)

5 Science Daily: "Raccoons spread dangerous diseases as they invade Europe, Spanish researchers find"

6 Spiegel Online: "Raccoon Invasion: Germany Overrun by Hordes of Masked Omnivores"