Post by Brett Peto
You know them as
raccoons ( Procyon lotor). Though maybe trash pandas is more your style, a phrase that’s taken off since it first appeared on Reddit in 2014. (I can’t help but note the Rocket City Trash Pandas, a Minor League Baseball team, plays ball in Madison, Alabama). Or you could even know them as washing-bears, an old Germanic nickname bestowed on the species “because they have a habit of rinsing and softening their food in water before they eat it.” This moniker actually has a connection to the legendary naturalist Carolus Linnaeus, who created the Latin-based binomial nomenclature system and originally labeled the raccoon as Ursus lotor (“washer bear”). Whatever you call them, raccoons are commonly found in the Lake County Forest Preserves in northern Illinois.
It’s easy to spot one, of course, by its bandit mask: the patches of black fur bending below each of its eyes. This mask is nothing short of iconic, but it’s likely an icon with a purpose:
“one hypothesis for the dark fur is that it may help reduce glare and enhance the nocturnal animal’s night vision.” There’s more to know, though, about these medium-sized mammals beyond face value—or just one feature of their faces.
A raccoon ( Procyon lotor) peeks out of its tree den. Photo © John D. Kavc. Continue reading
Posted in education, mammals, nature, wildlife |
Tagged adolescent raccoons, animals, kits, living with wildlife, mammals, native animals, nature, Procyon lotor, raccoon families, Raccoons, wildlife, wildlife biology, young raccoons |
Post by . Brett Peto All mink images and footage by John D. Kavc.
Yes, it’s almost that time of year.
American mink ( Neovison vison) mating season. I know, I’ve been waiting for it, too. February is celebrated for human romance: fancy dinner dates, shiny gifts, and long walks on the Des Plaines River Trail. But it’s useful to step out of our human-focused perspective once in a while. And thanks to our comprehensive Wildlife Monitoring Program, we know minks live in the Lake County Forest Preserves in northern Illinois. So, let’s examine why humans aren’t the only species that looks forward to February 14.
A mink (Neovison vison) peeks over a fallen tree. Photo © John D. Kavc. Continue reading
Posted in education, mammals, nature, tracks, wildlife |
Tagged American minks, forest preserves, Lake County Forest Preserves, living with wildlife, mammals, mating rituals, mating season, Minks, native animals, nature, Neovison vison, semi-aquatic mammals, wildlife |