Reproductive characteristics of feral raccoons (Procyon lotor) captured by the pest control in Kamakura, Japan.
In order to examine reproductive characteristics of feral raccoons in Kamakura, 335 raccoons were collected from March 2005 to March 2007. Raccoons were classified into five age classes: Class I, less than 5 months old; Class II, 5-11 months; Class III, 12-17 months; Class IV, 18-23 months; and Class V, over 23 months old. Females were examined for their age specific pregnancy rate and litter size. To determine when raccoon births occur in the region, birth months of fetuses were estimated by the fetal growth rate, and birth months of Class I individuals were examined by tooth eruption. From fetuses of 18 pregnant females and 47 Class I individuals, it was found that the raccoon births occur from February to October. Of 163 females examined, all of Class I-II females were nulliparous. Pregnancy rate was 47.6% in Class III females, which was significantly lower than 75.0% in Class IV and 78.1% in Class V. The litter size of fetuses ranged from 2 to 5, and 3.9 on average; and that of placental scars ranged from 1 to 7, 3.8 on average. Our findings suggest that parturition of raccoons is a bimodal distribution and age at first parturition may occur between 12 and 17 months old. In order to reduce the raccoon population successfully, females of all ages should be captured throughout the year.