Look at this picture. Imagine you’re in a forest or the outdoors when you suddenly encounter this animal. Can you easily identify what it is? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see it?
If you haven’t confused it with another animal and you answered raccoon, then good for you! You might have based the identification on their prominent features, such as black masks across their faces and bushy tails with black rings. However, some might confuse raccoons with other animals, especially those visually very similar to them.
Don’t worry because we got you! Join us in Floofmania as we present you with animals similar to raccoons – either through how they look or behave and function. We will dig around and see how you can easily spot their similarities and differences.
The Raccoon And Fellow Procyonidae Species
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Raccoons belong to the Procyonidae family, which is known for the excellent tree-climbing abilities of its members. The raccoon is the family’s most prominent member, with six other animals that share a huge resemblance.
Of course, this is given, even in humans, right? You have more similarities with your close family members than with your second cousins.
The other six members of the Procyonidae family that share similar traits and characteristics with raccoons are the following:
Let’s get to know each one a bit more and see how they compare with raccoons.
A bit of a spoiler! While many of the animals we will mention below don’t look a lot like a raccoon, and their only similarities are the fur and markings, they have a lot of shared behavioral qualities.
Coatis, also known as coatimundis, are mammals native to Central and South America and some parts of the Southwestern US.
Their most significant resemblance with the raccoons is their striped tails and face markings, although the coati has a longer and thinner tail compared to the raccoon.
There is also a similarity between their body color, as they are typically a mixture of gray, brown, and black. But to easily distinguish them from each other, remember that the prominent color among raccoons is gray and brown for coatis.
Like raccoons, coatis are adaptable animals that can survive in different environments, from rainforests to grasslands. This is thanks to their agile hands and formidable claws, which also allow them to be good climbers. Both are resourceful omnivores, consuming a wide range of insects, plants, invertebrates, and small vertebrates.
Aside from a number of similarities, coatis and raccoons also have significant differences. On top of this is their length. The coatis are longer than raccoons, with their length ranging from 29 to 54 inches, while raccoons are only about 30 to 36 inches long. However, raccoons are a little heavier compared to coatis.
Another difference is evident in their behavior. While raccoons are nocturnals, coatis are diurnal, which means they do most of their activities during the day. So yes, you are more likely to encounter a coati over a raccoon when the sun is still up.
The cacomistle is another member of the Procyonidae family. They are relatively small, with tails that are almost the same length as their bodies. Similar to raccoons, cacomistles have whiskers, masked faces, and striped tails that both fade to black at the ends.
But where the face markings of raccoons are black, those of the cacomistles are white. This animal also shares almost the same color combination as the raccoon, as evident in its grayish-brown fur.
Cacomistles are also omnivores like raccoons. They enjoy feeding on insects, rodents, seeds, and fruits. Even in behaviors, they share significant similarities with the raccoons. Both are nocturnal and solitary, so you can barely see them during the day. Both are also excellent tree climbers with highly dexterous forelimbs.
Aside from their sizes, you can observe that cacomistles have larger eyes and longer ears compared to raccoons.
Looking more like a primate, you might doubt whether Kinkajous really belong to the Procyonidae family. They really do, however, and this is evident in the resemblance they have with raccoons.
When you look at them, the first thing that might catch your attention is their tail. And yes, they are similar to those of raccoons – both are long and thick-furred. There’s only one missing thing, the ring markings on the kinkajous’ tails. But you still can’t underestimate these tails because they are prehensile, which helps in making them excellent climbers.
Kinkajous and raccoon paws also bear a resemblance. Both have hand-like features with sharp claws, which they use for finding food. Aside from this physical resemblance, both animals are also nocturnal.
When it comes to diet, raccoons, and kinkajous both eat plants and animals. However, kinkajous eat lesser meat than raccoons because they have a sweet tooth! They prefer eating fruit and nectar, especially honey.
In order to distinguish raccoons from kinkajous, there’s one simple thing to watch out for: Look at the face and tails. Kinkajous do not have face markings and rings on their tails. They are more yellowish brown in color, a little far from the gray to brown colors of raccoons.
Also called cuataquil, olingos are small mammals native to Central and Northern South America. They thrive in the jungle, which is quite different from the forests where raccoons thrive.
If you’re unfamiliar with this animal, you might not just mistake them for raccoons. You might also think that they are kinkajous, mainly because of their large eyes and the lack of facial markings.
But it will be evident that, like raccoons, olingos have pointed muzzles, bushy tails but with faint rings, and soft thick fur that resembles the raccoons’ grayish to grayish brown color. Both animals also have hind legs that are significantly longer than their fore legs, which leads to their hunched appearance.
Olingos also share the same solitary behavior as raccoons. They do not go in large groups and are most active at night. And although they are considered omnivores, olingos prefer to eat fruits. Obviously, olingos are good climbers as they are arboreal. So unlike raccoons, you can rarely see them on the ground unless they are threatened from their habitat.
Being the smallest member of the Procyonidae family, olinguito shares a few similarities with the raccoon. Their appearance bears little resemblance as they have thicker and more colorful fur, larger eyes, and rounded ears.
Their particular physical similarity is the tail. Both have long, bushy tails. On the behavior side, both are nocturnal and solitary and adept climbers.
But aside from climbing, olingos are also adept jumpers as they commonly leap from tree to tree. And unlike raccoons, olingos are not meat eaters. They are voracious fruit-eaters, although they also try some insects and nectar once in a while.
Look closely at this animal. It looks like a cat, right? It isn’t, though. It actually has more in common with a raccoon than a cat.
The mask in the face, the long, bushy, striped tail, the whiskers, the slightly rounded ears, and the pointed muzzles are the most significant similarities between ringtails and raccoons.
Even their sharp claws are similar, serving an essential purpose for them as adept climbers. What’s more interesting is, because of these claws and their long tails, ringtails can maneuver along cliffs and ledges. Quite impressive, right?
Even in behavior and habitat, the resemblance between the two is uncanny. Ringtails also live in dens, from tree hollows to rock crevices and burrows abandoned by other animals. They are also solitary animals that love to prey on their targets at night.
Their diet is similar to raccoons as both are omnivores that feed on a variety of foods in their habitat – from fruits to mice, squirrels, and even carrion.
Fact: Both raccoons and ringtails are strongly dependent on scent as an essential communication tool. They both mark their territories by rubbing urine on objects they claim as theirs.
Raccoons And Other Wildlife: What Are The Resemblance?
Aside from members of the Procyonidae family, raccoons also resemble other wild animals they’re not necessarily related. Some of these animals are the red panda, badgers, raccoon dogs, skunks, and ring-tailed lemurs. Let’s get to know them more in this section!
Currently classified as endangered species, red pandas are natives of the Eastern Himalayas. They thrive best in high altitude, temperate places with bamboo undergrowth.
Although different in color, raccoons and red pandas have many physical characteristics in common. First is their faces which are both characterized by mask-like markings.
But it’s important to remember that the raccoons’ faces are mainly covered in gray to brown fur with a black face marking, while that of the red pandas are primarily covered in reddish-brown color with a white face marking.
Both animals also have similar ear shapes, but only with the red panda being a little larger. Other similar facial features include whiskers, eyes, and snouts. Their eyes are of the same size, although that of the raccoons are black, while that of red pandas are brown.
The red pandas’ long, bushy tails are marked with rings but in different colors. The rings are alternating black and white for raccoons, while for red pandas, it’s alternating red and buff.
Having similar skeletal structures, raccoons and red pandas are both skilled climbers that use trees for shelter and for escaping predators.
Speaking of predators, red pandas hiss, grunt, or emit high-pitched sounds to send a signal of distress. Sounds familiar? Yes, because raccoons do the same. Also, both are territorial that use their urine and scent to mark their territories.
While both are solitary animals, raccoons and red pandas are active at different times of the day. Raccoons are nocturnal, so they are more active at night. On the other hand, red pandas are crepuscular, which means they are more active at dusk and dawn.
American badgers and raccoons are unrelated to each other. Still, you might notice that they are roughly the same size, look somewhat similar, eat the same things, and also share common behavioral characteristics. To further understand how they compare and differ from each other, refer to this table.
|Size||An adult raccoon is around 24-38 inches including the tail.||An adult American badger is around 20-40 inches including the tail.|
|Color||Raccoons are covered with a combination of gray, brown, and black fur.||American badgers have grayish fur that is grizzled with black.|
|Face||Raccoons have triangular-shaped faces with black mask-like markings.||American badgers have triangular-shaped faces with badge-like markings. The white stripe that extends from the nose to the base of the head is also prominent.|
|Tail||Raccoons have long, bushy tails with rings.||American badgers have short tails that are of the same color as their body.|
Aside from these physical characteristics, raccoons and American badgers also have behavioral similarities and differences.
- Diet: Both are omnivores that eat anything that they can find. Their meals range from plants, fungi, meat, and insects.
- Senses: Raccoons have excellent night vision, a good sense of hearing, and an extremely sensitive sense of touch caused by their paw’s highly developed nerve endings. On the other hand, American badgers have keen vision, an acute sense of hearing, and an excellent sense of smell.
- Speed: Badgers are slightly faster than raccoons. Their average speed is 16-19 mph, while the raccoons can only go as far as 15 mph.
The raccoon dog’s name and appearance may confuse you. Also called Japanese dogs, these animals bear little resemblance to other dogs and actually look more like a fox, but also a raccoon. They are called raccoon dogs because of their superficial resemblance to the raccoon.
The raccoon dog resembles the raccoon in having black facial masks and fur that is a mixture of gray, black, and brown colors. Their eyes and ear shape are almost the same but have slight differences, as that of the raccoon dogs’ are relatively smaller and more rounded.
Raccoon dogs are also almost the same size as a raccoon, ranging from 20 to 34 inches long, including their tails. But unlike raccoons, raccoon dogs do not have rings in their tails.
Both animals are most active at night. They also share a similar diet being omnivores.
Although they are often confused with raccoons, you can quickly identify a raccoon dog by looking at its limbs, which are relatively shorter and brown or blackish in color.
Ring-tailed lemurs are primates found only in Madagascar and tiny neighboring islands.
These primates are almost the same colors as the raccoons. Their backs are gray to rosy brown, while their limbs, heads, and necks are primarily gray. True to their name, this lemur species have ringed tails, like the raccoons. To be exact, they have 13 alternating black and white bands in their tails.
Another significant resemblance between the two is their scent-marking behaviors. Both have powerful glands that secrete odor to mark their territories, communicate or even use as a weapon.
However, ring-tailed lemurs are not diurnal and live in social groups, unlike raccoons. They commonly belong to social groups with 3 to 25 individuals.
Skunks, also called polecats, are mammals that can easily be distinguished by their solid black-and-white color. They have triangular faces, pointed noses, and snouts with white stripes that run from the tip of the nose up to the forehead.
Similar to raccoons, skunks have long, bushy tails – although they are wider and sometimes just all black or black with varying amounts of whites. Both animals also have strong, agile hands, which they use for digging.
These two animals also live in similar places. They both prefer to nest in burrows constructed and abandoned by other animals. Both are also nocturnal forages that feed on a variety of plants and animals.
While both animals have glands that secrete their scent when needed, the skunks are unique because they have highly developed glands that, even if you don’t see them, easily give them away.
Fact: Do you know that raccoons are called raton laveur in French? Yes, you see that right! The term raton laveur translates to "rat washer" or "self-washing rat." And raccoons are called one because of their behavior. Raccoons are known for digging around food and washing them and their hands. But they aren't necessarily doing it for cleaning. Since they have high tactile sensitivity in their paws, rubbing them together, like in the process of washing, helps soften the hardened layer covering the paws.
Author: Clarisse Jane Javier
Hello, there! I’m CJ, and I’ve been writing since primary school. I love to write about a variety of topics, from pets to the arts. I have had an endless fascination for animals since I was a kid. Until today, I always looked forward to learning more about the diverse species we have on Earth.