Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem

Symbolic Raccoon Meaning and Raccoon Messages

Last Updated on July 27, 2021 by Avia

Exploring Deeper Raccoon Meaning and Raccoon Messages. What does it mean when the raccoon pays us a visit? What does the raccoon mask mean? What about those rings around the raccoon tail? This article speaks to a bunch of symbolism and rich meaning of the raccoon. I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time, a buddy of mine and I went walking through a series of creeks and streams in east Texas. An abundance of oak and elm trees made our hike cool and shady. Sheltered from the Texas sun, I doffed my (very expensive) Ray-Ban sunglasses (Aviator’s, no less) and tucked them in my t-shirt.

Maybe an hour or so later, my buddy spotted a raccoon happily perched on a log over a deep, babbling stream.  We looked at him with respect and awe, and he looked at us with intense curiosity.  Then I noticed something in his tiny hands.

Yup, you guessed it…that raccoon was holding my top-dollar Ray-Ban’s in his impressively adroit hands.

He looked at me, looked at the sunglasses, and I kid you not…that raccoon tossed them into the stream. I could almost swear he gave a grin and made a tiny “whoop!” sound as he finished his little trick. Then he ran away (probably giggling all the way home).

I tell this story because 1) I think it’s pretty darned hysterical (well, now it’s funny – I wasn’t laughing when I lost my sunglasses to the furry bandit).  and 2) It kinda sums up a lot about symbolic raccoon meaning, and raccoon messages. 

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Exploring the symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem

“It is a great act of cleverness to be able to conceal one’s being clever.”

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

As a totem, animal guide or messenger, the raccoon comes with wildly varied and colorful insights.

Personally, I think this is pretty nifty. I like animal totems that make me work for meaning and ask me to put effort into cracking the mysteries of living life.

Maybe that’s why raccoon meaning is regarded with a certain amount of respect in Native American cultures…but the raccoon is also recognized as a tricky figure in legends and lore.  Trickster characters in Native American stories usually get a bad rap.

They tend to come off as untrustworthy and leave you holding a bag of nothing while they pretty much robbed you of something deeply meaningful.  Not the case with Native American raccoon stories.

These myths generally start with the rambunctious raccoon playing a joke or stealing something – but it almost always gets caught, and (usually) lives another day to (hopefully) learn from his tricky ways.

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem

Native American Raccoon Story of How the Raccoon got his Mask and Stripes

To make this point, I offer you the raccoon and the crow legend that comes for the Shawnee people from my stomping grounds of Texas.

The story goes, the raccoon had his eye on some pretty, shiny things the crow was hoarding in the hollow of a tree. Unable to resist the treasure, the raccoon raided the hollow and took the crows booty.  

Crow politely asked raccoon if he took the sparkly baubles. “NO! Of course not! How could you accuse me of that!?” Said the fibbing raccoon.  Just as he spoke the lie, raccoon quickly shoved his tail into a hole in the ground. 

Curious about this behavior, crow quickly flew atop raccoon’s back, hauled his tail out of the hole with its mighty beak, and beheld most of his treasure fitted tightly around the raccoon’s fluffy tail. When crow noticed 6 silver rings from his treasure collection jammed on raccoons tail, he knew the fuzzy thief was lying.  Crow was furious!

Caught in the act, the raccoon burst into laughter and bellowed, “Chill out, crow-daddy! I was just kidding! Ha! A little prank! Gee, lighten up!

Crow wasn’t amused. He took a log from the tribal fire and lit the raccoon’s tail on fire.  The thieving raccoon jumped and tried to spit and lick on the flames, but all that did was scorch his face. Finally, the raccoon belly-flopped into a nearby pool of water.  The pretty silver rings fell off. Which the crow promptly re-collected. 

After raccoon gained his composure subsequently after almost being a roasted raccoon…crow said: “As punishment for your stealing and lying, you will forever bear the black, scorched markings on your tail where the rings you stole from me fell off.  You will also wear a mask on your face from the burns while you tried to save your own behind. This will mark you as a tricky beast, and not to be fully trusted.” 

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Symbolic raccoon meaning and raccoon messages

Moral of Native American Stories About Raccoon Meaning

This is one among many other Native American stories about the raccoon that explains:

1) How the raccoon got rings on its tail
2) How the raccoon got its mask
3) Why the raccoon is never far away from water

Apparently, the raccoon didn’t learn these painful lessons, because I’m a witness!!! This critter is still around stealing Ray-Ban sunglasses! It’s okay, he had his fun, and I had a great memory to add to my collection.

But I must say….I will bet my buttons many of you are privy to the tricky ways of the raccoon. From ransacked trashcans to seemingly impossible feats of breaking-and-entering…the raccoon is still up to tricks and pranks to this day.

We can’t really blame these tricky rascals. Why? Because they are gifted with extraordinary intelligence. They are also wildly curious. This combined with their impressively nimble hands is a formula for wreaking havoc (and tons of fun for the raccoon).

How do I know raccoon’s are intelligent? There have been many (non-harmful) tests on raccoons that prove the point.

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Symbolic raccoon meaning, Intelligence and raccoon totem messages

Aesop’s Test of Raccoon’s Intelligence

Remember that old Aesop fable where the crow started plopping pebbles into a pitcher of water in order to raise the water level to drink on a hot day? Well, that fable grew into a scientific test to measure the intelligence of certain creatures. For example zoologist, Lauren Stanton at the University of Wyoming conducted this Aesop intelligence test on raccoons to prove they had enough smarts to get to the goods. Yes, indeed they do! 

Dr. Stanton placed a yummy marshmallow into a cylinder filled with water. She made stones available to raccoons on the ground so they might (if inclined) displace the water in order to increase the level so the raccoons could get to the marshmallow. 

Two of the three raccoons did exactly that! They carried pebbles and dropped them into the cylinder, watching that mouthwatering marshmallow slowly rise to the top. Guess what the third raccoon did? He knocked over the entire cylinder, snatched the sweet treat, and quickly gobbled up that sweet-marshmallow-goodie! SCORE! LOL!

Well, this ‘intellectual’ raccoon test might seem silly to some, but it gives merit to the well-known fact that raccoons are savvy, skilled, and smart. This scientific test is also a testimony that they have the ability to get what they want!

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Exploring symbolic raccoon meaning

Overarching Symbolic Raccoon Meaning

This brings me to some core concepts when it comes to the deeper symbolic meanings of raccoons.

  • Resourceful, Never Remorseful: Raccoon meaning is overwhelmingly about being flexible, adaptable and resourceful. They do whatever they need to do in order to live, thrive, survive (and have a bit of fun in the process). In this sense, raccoon meaning encourages us to get resourceful, take advantage and reap opportunities within our grasp. Raccoons remind us we have more resources in our midst than we might realize. Instead of having a pity-party, raccoons ask us to get scrappy, and start rounding up resources for achievement.
  • Talk to the Hand: Symbolic raccoon meaning is also about sensitivity. Their hands are not only extremely dexterous but immensely sensitive. In fact, they actually ‘see’ with their hands.  While their eyesight is not the greatest, their hands compensate for what their vision lacks. They have little hairs or whiskers on their hands that are ultra-sensitive. This allows them to untangle, unhinge, open, and finagle their ways into all sorts of challenging tight spots. Raccoon meaning is about taking physical action, getting ‘hands-on’ when it comes to getting results and moving forward in our lives.
  • Flow with Emotion: I mentioned in the Shawnee raccoon story that raccoons are never far from water. In fact, they are often observed to ‘play’ in water. They even do something called ‘dowsing’ which is when they take objects or food in their hands and place it underwater as if to clean it.  In truth, it’s not cleaning. It’s more like detecting. Water offers raccoons an extra level of sensitivity. When water swooshes over raccoon hands, it heightens their ability to sense and feel the object. This might deal with identifying the object or food, or making sure it’s a good bauble to eat or play with. All this to say, water is symbolic of emotion. Raccoon meaning and behavior is about getting more sensitive and flowing with our emotions.
  • Masked Meanings:  I mentioned how the Shawnee told the story of how the raccoon got its mask. But in truth, the mask on the raccoon’s face is a protective measure. These creatures don’t have the best eyesight, and they need every advantage to see…especially at night, as they are nocturnal creatures. The black mask helps keep the glare of the moon or sun at a level so they can see better. It’s kinda the same concept of football players putting that black stuff under their eyes – same deal – to keep them focused and avoid light glare.  When it comes to symbolic raccoon meaning, the mask is about embracing our true nature, while also taking advantage of disguise. In many myths, the raccoon’s masked face is symbolic of mystery, intrigue, and magic. On their own, masks are all about shifting perception. When it comes to masks, the raccoon reminds us to be true to ourselves, but sometimes situations call for donning a mask in order to avoid getting burned or see ourselves clearly to get to the winning goal.

Symbolic Raccoon Meaning Keywords

Here are a few keywords we can contemplate when it comes to deeper meaning of the raccoon…

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
More about raccoon meaning, raccoon totem insights
  • Clever
  • Humor
  • Tricky
  • Curious
  • Flexible
  • Sensitive
  • Confident
  • Territorial
  • Protective
  • Dexterous
  • Intelligent
  • Mysterious
  • Adaptable
  • Resourceful
  • Opportunistic

Interesting and Symbolic Raccoon Facts

What’s in a name? We can gain a lot of insight into what a creature is called and how it is named. Here are a few names for the raccoon in other cultures that give credence to this incredibly versatile creature…

  • Aztec‘s called the raccoon mapache which means: “That one with hands.” Interestingly, the Aztec’s also referred to the raccoon as eeyahmahtohn which means “The old woman who knows things.” (I just love that!)
  • The Native American Sioux of the Dakota’s dubbed the raccoon weekah tegalega which means “Magical one with painted face.”
  • In the Native Algonquin language from the Delaware region, we see the raccoon referred to as wtakalinchI.  This means “One who is clever with its fingers.”
  • In Native Abnaki, the raccoon is known as “One who lifts things.”, their word is asban.

How cool is that? Each of these references contributes to the gifts and skills that reinforce the diversity that the raccoon represents. I particularly like “Old woman who knows things” and “One who lifts things.” I think among all the different lessons, meanings and raccoon messages this creature offers, these two might be the most profound.

Raccoons know things, and they also lift limitations out of our way. If you might be struggling with the ‘unknowns’ in life, or you need help lifting blockages out of the way for your forward momentum – call on the raccoon. Our Native people understood these creatures have wisdom, and they have magical abilities to remove energetic roadblocks from our path.

Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Native American Raccoon Meaning and Myths

Raccoon Totem Advice and Raccoon Messages

We’ve covered a lot here about symbolic raccoon meaning. These raccoon messages might underscore, or give a fresh look as to some of the conclusions you already have about raccoon meaning in your life…

  • Adapt or be Trapped: We talked about the raccoon’s keen ability to adapt, and be resourceful, etc. But what I truly admire about the raccoon is that it is a scrapper. It eats anything, it will burrow through anything, it will maneuver and manipulate everything to maintain or improve its situation in life. This is a huge raccoon message right now especially. At the time of this writing, the Covid-virus mess has us in situation we never thought we would see.  Raccoons are a powerful reminder that sometimes all we can do is adapt in order to stay stable, sane, or get through challenges.
  • Nap Time!: Another great raccoon totem message and tidbit is their ability to chill out. They do not hibernate. However, they go into this long, deep stupor during the winter where they pretty much snooze through bone-chilling conditions. Raccoons tend to be fatty babies. Hey, no offense to raccoons…I’m just sayin’ (trust me, they don’t care if I call them fatties) that sweet raccoons have a lot of body fat they can live off of during a state of dormancy or torpidity to get them through harsh winter elements. This is symbolic. In this way, raccoons remind us that sometimes when the going gets tough, it might be time to take a nap. It also re-addresses the idea of living off the resources we have at our disposal. Just as the raccoon lives off its fat, we can probably make do with the excesses we may have in our life. So chill, try to relax, and make the best of what is available.
  • Creative Homemaking: Another great aspect of the raccoon’s ability to adapt and overcome is their deft way of making a home wherever they are. Raccoons are one of the few creatures who have actually taken advantage of industrialism, sprawling cities, and urban development. They can be happy campers having a home in trees, and just as happy squatting in your attic or chimney. What matters most to them is that they are fed, their family is protected and healthy and life is as good as it can be. This is a raccoon message that says: “It doesn’t take a McMansion or all the fancy trappings in a house to make it a home.” The real focus is on being satisfied and content with what we have.
  • Nighttime Musings: Raccoons are nocturnal. This is symbolic. It points to mystery, magic, and 100% pure potential. Consider, without light we do not know the difference between good or bad, gain or loss.  The raccoon asks us to move into the dark unknown spaces with wit, humor, confidence, and conquer our fears in order to discover strengths within us we might have never known before.
Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem
Symbolic raccoon meaning, raccoon messages and raccoon totem

Ideas About Raccoon Meaning and Raccoon Messages as a Totem

Whether or not you might consider the raccoon as your totem, there are clear communications this creature has to offer. Here are some insights about what the raccoon might be trying to convey to you when you encounter it upon your path…

  • I’ve said it several times in this article, but it’s a crucial point. When the raccoon comes in our lives it is almost always a prompt to take advantage of the resources we have available to us. If you are dealing with a situation, get scrupulous about what kind of opportunities you have within your reach in order to make get yourself back in balance and/or back in the game.
  • Emotion is a key factor when it comes to raccoon meaning. When the raccoon appears in our lives, it is time to take a look at our emotional well-being. Moreover, it’s time to use our emotions to our best advantage. Rather than becoming consumed or defeated by emotion, the raccoon cheers us on to take our emotional energy and use it towards our greatest accomplishments.
  • The raccoon’s curiosity is almost insatiable. This often means that when the raccoon makes its presence known it might be time to get a little curious ourselves. Set aside the goal-focused mentality. Although your drive and persistence is admirable, sometimes we just need to let loose, go a little wild, and capture the curiosity life offers. This brings us into a place of childlike wonder…it brings us back into a space of play. Very often, this is the thing that gets us over the hurdles of many challenges in our lives.

Final Thoughts About Symbolic Raccoon Meaning and Raccoon Messages

Rather than me giving the last word here, I’m going to hand over the virtual microphone to Billy Joel. I think he sums up raccoon meaning and raccoon mask symbolism beautifully in his song: The Stranger…

“Well, we all have a face

That we hide away forever

And we take them out

And show ourselves when everyone has gone.

Some are satin, some are steel

Some are silk and some are leather

They’re the faces of a stranger

But we’d love to try them on.”

Billy Joel – The Stranger

Just as Billy Joel croons, the raccoon knows all about trying on new masks, new disguises and new skins in order to get through this life. I really believe this is one of the major lessons the raccoon totem teaches us.

I hope you enjoyed these thoughts about symbolic raccoon meaning and raccoon messages. It should be clear (even though one stole my sunglasses), I’m pretty charmed by these masked, marvelous creatures.  No matter if you find them friend or fiddling foes…we got to admit, these babies offer a lot of life-lessons we can use to our advantage.

If you enjoyed this article, I am so grateful, and would be delighted if you shared it on your social media accounts!

Also, be sure to check out the related articles below for more information that might tickle your symbolic-topic fancy!

Raucous raccoon blessings to you,


knowing your animal totem

A Collection of Animal Totem Meanings

Animal totems play huge roles in our lives. They aid in self-discovery and capture our imagination, giving us incredible avenues of self-expression and awareness. From armadillos to zebras, click here to get a whole list of animal totem meanings.

Possum Meaning

As a totem, possums attract people who are resourceful, able to easily adapt, and folks who are fiercely protective of their family. Possums also teach us how to use all of our skills to survive in life. Get more about symbolic possum meaning here.

animal symbolism squirrel meaning

Symbolic Squirrel Meaning

When the squirrel comes into our lives it is often a message for us to have more fun, and take life a little less seriously. We can see this in the squirrel’s daily antics in our yards and surroundings. Get more about squirrel meaning here. (WYS) is a trusted Etsy affiliate & Amazon Associate. We also promote certain products we've tested and approved. As such, the website features sponsored products for Amazon or Etsy or other afiliates. Should you make a purchase from a link on this website, WYS may receive a small commission. This website also hosts advertisements. Please see our policy page for further information. Thank you for your purchases, as it contributes to keeping this website online and running.