Procyon lotor in Ireland
Scientific name: Procyon lotor (Linnaeus 1758)
Common name: Raccoon (GB) Waschbär (DE), Vaskebjørn (DK), Pesukaru (EE),
Pesukarhu (FI), Paprastasis meškėnas
(LT), Jenot (LV), Vanlig vaskebjørn (NO), Szop pracz (PL) Jenot poloskun,
(RU), Tvättbjörn (SE).
Synonyms: Ursus lotor L., 1758, Lotor vulgaris Tiedemann, 1808,
Procyon annulatus G. Fischer, 1814.
Why the concern? The raccoon is listed as one of the 100 or
the Worst Invasive Species in Europe.
In April 2011, this species was seen in the wild in County Cork. This is the
first record for Ireland or Northern Ireland. It is likely that this species has
arrived in Ireland through the pet trade or trade in animals for zoos. When
racoon populations reach high numbers, they can impact on native biodiversity.
The species is known to predate on bird nests and amphibians resulting in
reduced breeding success. Raccoons are also a carrier of the roundworm
Baylisascaris procyonis which can be dangerous to other species of mammals and
birds. There is concern that this species could transmit infectious diseases to
What does it look like? Raccoons have a distinctive masked face,
greyish fur. The head is wide with big eyes and pointed muzzle. One of the most
distinguishing features of the raccoon is its black or almost black mask that
fully surrounds the eye region, reaching from the cheeks across the eyes and
muzzle, and extending down the muzzle and up to the forehead.
Where might I see it? Raccoons can be found in many different types of
habitats including urban areas and woodlands. Members of the public may see this
species near houses and in housing estates.
This species is listed as being invasive in other
European countries and a potential invader in the Invasive Species Ireland
2007 risk assessment. See the
on Procyon lotor.
Introduction status: Casual occurrence.
This species is not thought to be established in Ireland.
Distribution Frequency: Rare
Is there a reference specimen?: No. The species was confirmed from
Actions taken to date: National Parks and Wildlife Service have
been notified and regional staff are making local inquires. National press
have been notified.
Pathway of introduction: it is unclear how the raccoon arrived
into Ireland. It is likely to have been imported for the pet trade.
What can you do?:
- Follow the
Pet Wise guidelines
- Remember that it is
against the law to release non-native species into the wild in Ireland
- Report sightings of
If you think you have seen this species in the wild,
if possible take a photo of it and
submit a record of it to the National Biodiversity Data Centre or to
For more information the following
can be contacted:
Name: Colette O’ Flynn
Organization: National Biodiversity Data Centre
Phone: + 353 (0) 51306240
Name: John Kelly
Organization: Invasive Species Ireland
Phone: + 44 2890278330