Thursday, September 06, 2007

Names for the raccoon

I found this in Raccoons In Folklore, History & Today's Backyards, By Virginia C. Holmgren.

You have to admire an animal which can unscrew a wingnut to get a meal.

The original names for the raccoon come from the tribal languages of Native Americans. Among those that eventually found written record are these:

  • Names describing agile forepaws
    • Abnaki: asban, one who lifts up things
    • Algonkin: ah-rah-koon-em, they rub, scrub, scratch
    • Atakapa: welkol, (wilkol, wulkol, wutko), they rub and scratch
    • Aztec: mapachitl, they take everything in their hands
    • Biloxi-Sioux: atuki, they touch things
    • Chinook: q'oala's, they scratch
    • Chippewa: aasebun, aissibun, they pick up things
    • Choctaw: shauii, graspers
    • Cree: essebanes, they pick up things
    • Creek: wutki, they rub and scratch
    • Delaware: eespan, one who picks up things; wtakalinch, one very clever with its fingers
    • Lenape: eespan, hespan, they handle things; nachenum, they use hands as a tool
    • Menomini: aispan, they handle things
    • Mohican: sha-we, grasper
    • Natick: asban, they pick up things
    • Ofo-Sioux: at-cha, one who touches things
    • Ojibway: aispun, essepan, they pick up things
    • Seminole: wood-ko, one who rubs
    • Shawnee: shapata, ethepata, grasper
    • Takelma: swini, picks up things with hands
    • Tschimshean: que-o-koo, washes with hands
    • Yakima: k'alas they scratch

  • Names describing face
    • Dakota-Sioux: weekah tegalega, magic one with painted face
    • Hopi: shiuaa, painted one
    • Huron-Iroquois: attigbro, blackened (face); gahado-goka-gogosa, masked demon spirit
    • Mandan: nashi, blackened face and feet
    • Mexico (tribe not given): macheelee, white bands on face
    • Nicaragua (tribe not given): macheelee, white bands on face
    • Wyot: cbel'igacocib, one with marked face

  • Names implying magic (both sexes)
    • Cheyenne: macho-on, one who makes magic
    • Dakota Sioux: wee-kah, (wee-chah, wee-kahsah, wici, wicha) one with magic; wee-kah tegalega, magic one with painted face (or wici)
    • Sioux: macca-n-e, one who makes real magic

  • Names for females with magic

    • Mexico (used by Aztecs, but probably borrowed from another tribe): see-o-ahtlah-ma-kas-kay (cioatlamacasque), she who talks with spirits; ee-yah-mah-tohn, she (little old one) who knows things
    • Yakima: tsa-ga-gla-tal, she who watches (legendary); witch, spirit

  • Names describing big tail (long tail, ringed tail)

    • Chinook: siah-opoots-itswoot, long-tailed bearlike one
    • Huron: ee-ree-ah-gee, those of big-tailed (long-tailed) kind
    • Iroquois: gah-gwah-gee, cah-hee-ah-gway, big (long) tailed ones
    • Sioux: shinte-gleska, ring-tailed ones
    • Seneca: kagh-quau-ga, big (long) tailed
    • Wyandot: ee-ree, big-tailed, long-tailed ones

  • Names comparing to dog

    • Arawak: ah-ohn, dog, of dog kind
    • Guyana: mayuato, doglike leaper
    • Huron-Iroquois: agaua, doglike one
    • Klamath: wacgina, tamed like dog
    • Narragansett: ausup, night doglike one
    • Taino: ah-ohn, ah-oon, of the dog kind
    • Tupi: agwara, doglike leaper

  • Names indicating eaters of crabs, crayfish

    • Choctaw: shauii, graspers (of crayfish)
    • Guyana: mauyato, doglike leaper on crabs and crayfish
    • Kiowa: seip-kuat, pulls out crayfish with hands (seip-mantei, crayfish)

  • Non-Indian names

    • American-English: coon, rattoon
    • Canadian French: chat, chat sauvage, cat, European wildcat
    • Danish: skjob, fisher, fur trade name
    • Dutch: schob, fisher, fur trade name
    • French: raton, raton laveur, little rat, little washer rat
    • Finland: siupp, fisher, fur trade name
    • German: schupp, fisher, fur trade name; washbä, washer bear, from Linnaeus Ursus lotor
    • Latin: Linnaeus, Systema Naturae, 1747: Ursus cauda elongata; 1748: Ursus cauda annulata, fascia per oculos transversali; 1758: Ursus lotor
    • Latin: Hernández, Francisco, Historiae Animalium... Novai Hispaniae, 1651: cane melitensi, badgerlike dog
    • Lithuanian: sunluskis, dog-bear
    • Polish: szop, fisher, fur trade name
    • Russian: jenot, fisher, fur trade name
    • Spanish: mapache, from Aztec, mapachitli, uses hands; oso lavador, washer bear (from Linnaeus); perro mastin, mudo, tejón, masked, barkless, badgerlike dog, popular usage
    • Swedish: sjupp fisher, fur trade name; tváttbjörn, from Linnaeus, washer bear

Text and content copyright © 1990 by Virginia C. Holmgren


At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gangs of nocturnal thieves are stalking whole neighbourhoods in northern Germany's towns and cities.

Unusually strong and agile, they jump onto roofs from tree tops and climb along drainpipes.

People in Germany are split into two parties: those who find racoons cute and feed them, and those who resort to killing them

Biologist Ulf Hohmann
But they are not out to steal cars or burgle apartments - they rummage through compost heaps, overturn rubbish bins and steal pet food.

They are racoons - thousands of them.

They are leaving their natural habitat near German streams and lakes in their droves to make a home in towns and cities, where food, water and shelter are easy to find.

Massive invasion

The furry animals, with their characteristic striped tail and little black mask, are not afraid of humans.
The racoons raid domestic rubbish tips
Four racoons were released in Germany in 1934
Once they have chosen an attic, basement or garage as their den, getting rid of them becomes very difficult.

German biologists are now exploring strategies to curb this massive invasion which seems to be spiralling out of control.

There are a growing number of sightings and reports of damage to private property in the outskirts of major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

When threatened, the racoon fluffs out its fur to appear bigger
Racoons are being tagged to monitor activity
"People in Germany are split into two parties: those who find racoons cute and feed them, and those who resort to killing them to get rid of what they consider a real plague," biologist Ulf Hohmann told BBC News Online.

Mr Hohmann's team has led a year-long study on urbanised racoons in the city of Kassel, near Frankfurt, where the highest presence of racoons is recorded.

To draw a picture of the life of urban racoons, they captured and marked specimens with microchips and ear tags to monitor their movements and activity.

The study found that where people resort to killing racoons, the animals tend to compensate by reproducing more.


"A person who had his house invaded managed to trap and kill as many as 40 racoons in one year, but nothing changed," Mr. Hohmann said.
The racoons are spreading into urban areas across Germany
Racoons can turn handles and open doors

"What we rather advise people to do is to invest in effective strategies to protect their homes, like trimming tree branches that stretch near the roof and covering drainpipes to prevent racoons from climbing along them," he added.

"It can be costly, but it certainly pays off."

Traditionally hunted for their precious fur in their native USA and Canada, racoon pelts became popular in Europe at the beginning of last century.

The first two pairs of racoons were set free in Germany in 1934.

More of the animals escaped during World War II, when a stray bomb hit a racoon farm near Berlin.

Mr Hohmann said that racoons have already crossed into most neighbouring countries and will eventually spread to the whole of Europe.

Meanwhile, distressed German home owners will have to pioneer ways of keeping this furry menace at bay.

Pictures copyright of Ingo Bartussek, reproduced with kind permission

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Maurice Lanselle said...

I haven't heard or read of wild racoons in France (and I'm in Alsace, about as close to Germany as one can be...well, not quite, I'm not on the banks of the Rhine). They do figure among the attractions at a leisure park in Auvergne.

Any thoughts on the stories of gangs of racoons savagely attacking cats in Washington state?

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

We had a big problem with these sneaky devils on the farm. We keep the food for the barn cats in a closed plastic garbage can, but raccoons were knocking it over and getting inside and eating the food, so Hub put heavy duty bungee cords on the lid...which they were able to take off and get inside to the food. So Hub put a giant cement block AND the bungee cords on the lid...they knocked the whole thong over and got inside. Finally, Hub decided to store the whole garbage cab full of food in an old refrigerator in the barn. That FINALLY stopped them.

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

P.S. About the cats. Sometimes a barn cat disappears. Hub thinks the raccoons may be killing them. We've tried trapping them , but they are very clever.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Maurice Lanselle said...

susanlynn: is an "old refrigerator" one prior to magnetic door seals, one with hook-bolts and levers to open them? Maybe, if so, the raccoons don't know how to open it unless they see it done. Be careful not to show them!

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

No, the frig is not that old. I think this step is working because they cannot smell the food anymore, so they don't know it is in the frig. That's my guess because I think these crafty , clever creatures could open the frig door if they were aware that the food is in there.

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They deserve to live like all of us

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have had 2 boars (males) as pets before. Gave them to a friend with a huge farm once my dog was about to birth because she turned mean to the coons. I now have a itty bitty sow (female) and since my dog has been spayed, she's fine with her. I've gotten all mine at bottle feeding stage. They are actually quite cute, entertaining, and definitely loveable but when they're tiny and wanting their bottle, those little front claws can be vicious when they're climbing your leg to get to bottle.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Find me on Google+