Key Vaca raccoon

Procyon lotor auspicatus

Overall vulnerability:

lower vulnerability
higher vulnerability

Conservation status:

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

General Information

The Key Vaca raccoon is one of multiple subspecies of the common raccoon endemic to the Florida Keys. The Key Vaca population is characterized by its extremely small size and pale fur. These intelligent and social nocturnal animals are opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of any available food source on their island home. Racoons typically breed annually in the early spring, triggered by increasing daylight. Mothers nurse their small litters for about 16 weeks and provide parental care through the following fall.

Habitat Requirements

As with diet, the Key Vaca raccoon is a generalist in its habitat requirements. This species relies on vertical structures for climbing when threatened, but can make use of any habitat with adequate tree cover within its small range including mangroves and rockland hammocks.


Climate Impacts

Currently threatened by alteration and loss of habitat, the Key Vaca raccoon is also extremely susceptible to sea level rise. Additionally, this species faces many of the same existing threats common to coastal or island species: habitat loss and degradation from coastal development, barriers to migration and habitat disturbance from recreational use. As an endemic subspecies, the Key Vaca raccoon would become genetically swamped by mainland raccoon populations if it was able to migrate in response to climate change.

More information about general climate impacts to species in Florida.

Vulnerability Assessment(s)

The overall vulnerability level was based on the following assessment(s):

Adaptation Strategies

  • Conservation of existing habitat will allow the Key Vaca raccoon the best chance of recovering and maintaining a healthy population as climate change begins to accelerate.
  • As sea level rise may eventually become too great a threat for the Key Vaca raccoon in its current habitat, developing and maintaining a captive breeding population is a strategy to consider for this endemic subspecies.

More information about adaptation strategies.

Additional Resources