Who doesn’t love Halloween? What could be more fun for kids than dressing up and wandering around the neighbourhood trick or treating and being rewarded with bags full of candy? Halloween is one of the best holidays for kids, but it isn’t always that much fun for Mom and Dad who have to provide the costumes. Costumes need to be fun, practical and original – no kid wants to wear the same boring outfit that they did last year. Making a costume can be the biggest nightmare of Halloween for parents, but we have a great suggestion for you – dress your kids as raccoons or even better go as a whole family of raccoons!
There are countless examples of great DIY raccoon costumes on the internet and most of them don’t take too much time or effort to put together. You can simply buy a raccoon mask or make one out of fabric. But why settle for something so tame when this theme allows you to really think out of the box. Or maybe we should say in the box. A great idea for a raccoon Halloween costume is the raccoon in the green bin. We all know how much raccoons like to rummage through our bins so use this as your inspiration. Take an old packing box, paint it green and poke your head out the top, just don’t forget your bandit mask.
What’s so Special About Raccoons?
If your kids are into fairy tales and superheroes, they may take a bit of convincing that a raccoon costume is the way to go for Halloween. But just tell them about all the awesome things that raccoons can do, and you will change their minds in no time. Raccoons are as cool and clever as any superhero. In fact, they possess many of the qualities of a superhero and the best part is that they are real and living right here amongst us. Your kids have a far better chance of spotting a raccoon on the streets of your neighborhood than they do of ever seeing a real-life superhero.
Raccoons can be found throughout North and South America and there are six raccoon species that are native to the Americas. The common raccoon that lives in Canada and the United States is Procyon lotor. It is also the most prolific and recognizable of all the raccoon species. As almost all homeowners can attest to, raccoons are one of the most dexterous animals in nature and often use their skills to break into coolers and garbage bins.
The raccoon’s front paws make it stand out from all other mammals. Most animals use sight, sound or smell to hunt but raccoons rely on their sense of touch to forage for food. Their front paws contain four times more sensory receptors than their back paws. These sensory receptors allow them to handle things and identify them without being able to see the object. This is extremely useful for a nocturnal animal. When you see a raccoon licking its paws, it is not cleaning itself, it is wetting its paws to stimulate the nerve endings and heighten its sense of touch. This is called dousing. Even the name raccoon related to its hands and is derived from the Powhatan word, aroughcun, which translates as “animal that scratches with its hands”. The Spanish word for raccoon is mapache and comes from the Aztec word mapachitli that means “one who takes everything in its hands”.
Surviving in an Urban Jungle
Like superheroes, raccoons are survivors. They know how to adapt to their environment and make the most of their surroundings. Raccoons don’t let much get the better of them, not even their arch-nemesis, the family pet. They are one of the rare species that has actually thrived alongside humans and benefitted from urbanization. Raccoons have quickly learned to adapt to living in an urban jungle and their populations in North America has dramatically increased in this century, despite a shrinking natural habitat.
In forests, raccoons forage for their food and their diet consists of birds, insects, fruit, nuts and seeds. In urban areas, they have adapted their natural foraging instincts to scavenge for garbage and pet food as well as fruit and vegetables grown in gardens. Many raccoons will forage in urban or built-up areas and then return to nearby woodlands to hide and sleep during the day. Others have become total urban dwellers and made the cities their homes, sleeping in both occupied and abandoned buildings.
Raccoons Rock the Masked Bandit Disguise
How cool is that raccoon mask? Raccoons are in disguise all the time. They don’t have to find a telephone booth – almost impossible in this day and age – to do a quick change from their suit to their superhero outfit. They don’t need a bat cave to store their superhero toys and they don’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to be able to scale walls. Raccoons can climb buildings like Spiderman, find food for the poor like Robin Hood and use their dexterous paws to open jars to help themselves. Okay, maybe that last trick is not quiet the behaviour of a superhero. Admittedly, raccoons are often more like a thief in the night than a hero but they certainly know how to rock the mask-like Zorro.
Those black markings around their eyes, however, do more than make them look like a bandit. The raccoons easily recognizable black mask serves a very practical purpose – it helps them see more clearly. The dark color around their eyes absorbs incoming light and reduces glare that would otherwise obstruct their night vision. Just like Batman, raccoons operate mostly at night and the less intense peripheral light makes it easier for them to perceive contrasts and focus on their target in low light.
Raccoons may be super cool and the best idea for a fun Halloween costume, but you do not want them moving into your home. And please if you do have one in your house, don’t think you can be a superhero and try DIY removal – it will end badly. Contact a reputable wildlife removal company like Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control to deal with the masked bandit in your attic.