In the winter, raccoons will often hibernate. The animals will store up their extra fat during autumn and enter a slumber that lasts about a month. They will emerge on warm days and scavenge for food. Raccoons that have found denning spaces in soffits, attics, and chimneys of homes can be quite noisy at night. Homeowners have been known to report hissing and shrieking sounds coming from their dens.
Technically, raccoons do not hibernate but they do enter a state of torpor. This is a form of deep sleep that lowers the animal’s heart rate and body temperature while conserving energy. In colder climates, torpor will last longer than in warmer regions. This is not true hibernation as the animal can still awake to forage on warmer days and will have a high level of energy reserves.
Raccoons are adaptable and will use tree stump hollows, caves, woodchuck burrows and the attics of abandoned buildings as their dens. These are solitary animals but they will den up with other raccoons in the winter to take advantage of each other’s body heat.
During the day, a raccoon will go out to forage and can consume up to 30 pounds of food per day. This allows them to survive the winter months when their typical food sources of frogs, fish, nuts, berries and insects are unavailable. They will eat the food they stored up during the fall or loot trash containers and garbage bags to get by.