Intra- and interspecific contact rates of 12 adult (five females, seven males) raccoons (Procyon lotor) were recorded while these animals fed at a rural garbage dump 40 km north of Kingston, Ontario, Canada from 15 June to 5 September 1995. While raccoons were being observed, they bit, and were bitten, by their conspecifics an average of 0.99 (±0.21) and 1.28 (±0.21) times per hour, respectively, while feeding. Based on mean nightly contact rates (which included time when raccoons were not observed), raccoons bit one of their conspecifics once every 3 nights while feeding. The mean rate of bites made and received per hour for males was not significantly different from lactating females. There was no detectable difference between the mean rate of bites made and received per hour for raccoons which regularly versus occasionally fed at the dump. No interspecific contacts were observed, though raccoons and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) often fed at the dump concurrently. The contact rates in this study are the first to be calculated for raccoons directly from field data and will be useful as a point of reference for modeling rabies spread in raccoons in areas with similar site characteristics.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2