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Crab-eating Raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus)

  • Crab-eating Raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus)

    Common Name/s: Crab-eating Raccoon 
    Scientific name: Procyon cancrivorus
    Brazilian common name/s: Mão-Pelada, Guaxinim

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): (54-65)a Tail (cm):  (25-38) a Diet: Omnivorous a
    Weight (kg): (3-8) a Height (cm):  Home range (km2): 
    Litter size: (3-7)a Gestation (days): (60-63) Longevity (years): 
    Social structure:
     Solitary a
    Activity pattern: Nocturnala

    a (Emmons & Feer 1997)

    Physical description
    The coat is dense, with gray almost black colouring, sometimes with red or brown tones. It has a black mask around the eyes and a curly tail with black and pale rings, which are the main characteristics of the species. The feet have long toes, with very short hair, which led to the common name of “bare-foot” (Mão-pelada) in Brazil.

    Habitat and Ecology
    One of the most poorly studied neotropical carnivores with very little known about their ecology. They are thought to be rare throughout their distribution. They occur throughout Latin America, east of Costa Rica and Peru to Uruguay. This species is mainly nocturnal and are good climbers and swimmers (Emmons & Feer 1997; Yanosky & Mercolli 1993), with their occurrence in forest areas positively associated with water (Michalski & Peres 2005).
    It has well developed tactile sense and uses its hands regularly in a similar fashion to monkeys - food is usually broken in the hands and then placed in the mouth. Considered omnivorous, their diet consists of crustaceans (crabs), fruits, insects and other arthropods, and vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians- Gatti et al. 2006; dos Santos & Hartz 1999).
    The mother keeps the offspring in a hollow tree until they are 7 to 9 weeks old. After which, the young accompany their mother on short outings, and after 12 weeks, they leave the nest.

    Threats and Conservation
    There is no specific legal protection for this species and it is classified as least concern by the IUCN ( However, populations are declining and threats include hunting for pelts, use for target practice, the pet trade, and, in some areas habitat destruction (Michalski & Peres 2005). Coastal development projects and mangrove destruction also contribute regionally to population declines (Reid & Helgen 2008).

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    Emmons, L. H., & Feer, F. (1997). Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Gatti, A., Bianchi, R., Rosa, C. R. X., & Mendes, S. L. (2006). Diet of two sympatric carnivores, Cerdocyon thous and Procyon cancrivorus, in a restinga area of Espirito Santo State, Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 22, 227-230.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

    Reid, F., & Helgen, K. (2008). Procyon cancrivorus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 July 2010.

    Yanosky, A. A., & Mercolli, C. (1993). Activity pattern of Procyon cancrivorus (Carnivora, Procyonidae) in Argentina. Revista de Biologia Tropical, 41, 157-159.

    dos Santos, M. D., & Hartz, S. M. (1999). The food habits of Procyon cancrivorus (Carnivora, Procyonidae) in the Lami Biological Reserve, Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil. Mammalia, 63, 525-530.

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