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Haus der Natur

Skilful immigrants

Raccoons in the Kottenforst? You're right to be surprised! There used to be no raccoons here. They originally lived in the forests of North and Central America. In the last century individual raccoons were abandoned in Germany or escaped from fur farms. In the forests they found optimal living conditions and proliferated strongly.

Today there are about 500,000 raccoons in Germany. They belong to the neozoen species, that immigrated from other countries. An alternative title is invasive species because they drive away indigenous animals and use their habitats. Raccoons eat eggs, young birds, amphibians and reptiles, and occupy the breeding nests of owls and bats. The extent to which they actually endanger biodiversity is controversial. They are still rare in the Kottenforst.

Raccoons have an exceptionally good sense of touch; especially their front paws whose tactile hairs can sense objects even before they touch them. A raccoon can move the toes of its front paws individually and is very skilful. Hence it continually turns over its food before eating it. Seen from outside this looks as if it is washing it.

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