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Tattoo designs - R >> Raccoons

Raccoon tattoo symbol ideasRaccoon Tattoo Designs - The raccoon and his black mask and white and black striped tail conjure up various characters - bandit, carnival reveller, or actor of old. The raccoon is all these things, a mischievous master of disguise. This nocturnal scavenger also symbolizes our hidden identities, our dark side, that which we don't know about ourselves. Perhaps the perfect symbol of our 'alter egos'.

'Raccoon' comes from the North American first nations Algonqian language - aroughcoune - meaning 'he who scratches with his hands'. Spell it with one 'r' or a 'double rr', it passes equally well in the English language. The raccoon is found the length and breadth of North America, from the far north all the way to Mexico. Like another infamous 'trickster', the coyote, the raccoon has adapted well to living amongst humans as the suburbs infringe upon their natural habitat.

Raccoons forage about in family units, on the prowl for fruits, vegetables, and any small animal that crosses their path. Prior to eating, they go through the motions of washing their food in water. This may be for hygienic purposes, or may just be some hard-wired habit from their evolutionary past when they lived on fish. In any event, their hands are a powerful raccoon feature, and may represent the act of giving, receiving, or holding.

Trees are a favourite haunt of raccoons, and a favored way to escape larger predators, although they move about entirely on terra firma. Curious to a fault, raccoons are famous for trespassing into the human world where they back-track without a squabble if they have an escape route. But, trapped, the raccoon can react ferociously - and it has the claws and canine teeth to make good on its determination to survive.

The little masked bandit is a scavenger extraordinaire (the ultimate omnivore), able to negotiate garbage can lids with ease, and even house doors. Their curiosity is supported by a dexterity that leaves no stone unturned. They are slow to back off their booty, showing no regret and little fear, so it's best to exercise patience when shooing them away.

As a symbol of curiosity, dexterity and mischievousness, a raccoon tattoo would be a statement about one's enthusiasm for adventure, exploration, and trickery. They are similar to the Trickster in Native American folklore, due to their ability to mislead. Hunters have been confounded by their habit of doubling back on their own trail and hiding in hollow trees.

The raccoon may be endearing because of its mask, because, as humans, we need to occasionally change identity. There's no question but that the human psyche has many faces, without which we couldn't navigate a 24-hour day. Raccoon wisdom, then, also includes shape-shifting and secrecy. If the raccoon is your spirit guide, you would probably shine on the theatrical stage.

Raccoons entered human culture for their water repellent coats which made excellent cold-weather protection for citizens of northern societies. The coonskin hat was made famous by Davy Crockett and Daniel Boon in the frontier days of the American Early West, during the 18th century, when raccoons were almost wiped out. But this excellent forager has survived well, and is not on the endangered species list. Coonskin hats later made a comeback in the 1950's when Davy Crockett was an extremely popular television show among young boys.

Coon skin caps

During the 'Roaring Twenties', full-length coonskin coats were all the rage, and were a phenomenon among college-age men. But the coonskin coat fell out of favor because it became so closely identified with the alcohol-fueled revelry and antics of young men who had had one drink to many. The coonskin coat began to be associated with vulgar and socially inappropriate behavior.

The raccoon was adopted as the wild animal symbol of Tennessee in 1971.

Coon dogs are hounds or Coonhounds, the most famous being the Redbone Coonhounds that were bred to hunt raccoons, as well as other wild game, such as bears, cougars and bearcats, especially in the American South. The job of the coon dog was to 'tree' the coon or game, until the hunter could catch up. "Where the Red Fern Grows", by Wilson Rawls, is the beloved story of a young boy and his coon dogs and the young-adult novel has twice been adapted for film. Other coon dog breeds are the American Leopard Hound, the Black and Tan Coonhound, the Bluetick Coonhound, the English Coonhound, the Plott Coonhound, and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

As a colloquial expression a 'coonhound', or 'coon dog', is a description given to men who are given to chasing women.

A final note - the 'Rocky Raccoon' of Beatles music fame (1968) is not about a raccoon at all, but a cowboy.

Raccoon Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!Rocky Raccoon is a 1968 folk rock song by The Beatles from the double-disc album The Beatles (also known as The White Album). The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney, who was inspired while playing guitar for John Lennon and Donovan Leitch in India (where the Beatles had gone on a retreat). The song, titled from the character's name, was originally "Rocky Sassoon", but McCartney changed it to Rocky Raccoon because he thought "it sounded more like a cowboy."

Get inspired by some really great images and photos in our Raccoon Inspiration Gallery

See also: Animal Tattoo Index

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Tattoo designs - R >> Raccoons

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