Food Habits of Coastal Marsh Raccoons With Observations of Alligator Nest Predation

Food habits of the coastal marsh raccoon, Procyon lotor megalodous Lowery, in Louisiana were studied from June 1973 to August 1974. The raccoon's role as predator of the eggs and hatchlings of the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, was also evaluated. Eight hundred and sixty-six raccoon scats were collected from the fresh, intermediate and brackish marsh types, an average of 24 scats per month per habitat type. Crustaceans (crawfish, fiddler crabs (Uca spp.), blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) were the major food item consumed and comprised 49 percent of the yearly diets of raccoons. Fruits were important fall foods. Although not utilized in great quantities, insects were also important, particularly during periods ofprolonged marsh flooding. A marked difference occurred between years in the incidence of raccoon predation on alligator nests ranging from no predation in the 1973 nesting season to 45 percent in 1974. The difference was believed related to water level and its influence on the feeding behavior and subsequent movement patterns.

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