The Raccoon Called Sjupp

Raccoons are wonderfully adaptable animals that have made their home in North American cities. But did you know Carl Linnaeus was given a pet raccoon, which he studied through careful observation over time?

Suitable forCurriculum Point
Year 4recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways
Year 6living things and their habitats; classification
All yearsWorking Scientifically - observing over time

This video follows Carl Linnaeus as he takes his curiosity in nature to the next level, by observing the behaviour of a raccoon over time. He thinks about what the preferred habitat of the raccoon may be, its favourite foods and how it reacts to danger.

Below we provide a full transcript of the video, a supporting worksheet and follow-on questions for your class.

Questions to follow up with

Before towns and cities were built, where do you think raccoons used to live?

Raccoons depend on vertical structures to climb when they feel threatened, so you would tend to find them in wooded areas. Raccoons like to find their food by the water, so forests by a lake or marshes are their preferred habitat.

Do you think there is just one species of raccoon?

There are three species of raccoon: the common raccoon, the crab-eating raccoon and the pygmy raccoon. Each one of these species is utterly adorable - fact. Raccoons are also closely related to two other species called coatis and olingos, and a few other less-well known species. Beyond that, raccoons are related to weasels, red pandas and skunks.

Sjupp is nocturnal, which means he's awake for most of the night. Why is this a good adaptation for a raccoon?

Raccoons are omnivores, so they can and do eat most things. They hunt for berries, fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables, as well as insects, eggs, poultry, rats, squirrels, birds, fish, snakes, crustaceans, worms, frogs and molluscs.

In the city, a raccoon is most likely to be able to steal food from bins, coops or ponds during the night; and this is also true for raccoons in the wild, which will be able to hunt for birds and other animals during the darker times of the ay.

What adaptations do nocturnal animals need to have?

Nocturnal animals need to have heightened sensitivity to hearing and smell, as well as well-adapted eyesight or a different way of surveying the environment (e.g. echo-location in bats).

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