Raccoons kill and eat amphibians and reptiles and can endanger native species, according to a study. “We believe it is necessary to establish management measures for raccoons in areas where rare species occur in order to ensure the overarching nature conservation goal of “conservation of endangered species,” explained Sven Klimpel from the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center and the Frankfurt Goethe University. The raccoon comes from North America and has spread widely in Germany and other European countries.

Klimpel’s research team examined the feces, stomach contents and parasite fauna of 108 raccoons from nature reserves in Hesse, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, as the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research in Frankfurt announced. “The results of the study clearly show that the spawning areas of amphibians and reptiles in particular are used as a food resource by raccoons,” said Klimpel.

Common toads, pond newts, grass frogs and grass snakes were identified in the raccoons’ stomachs. “During sampling in the Spessart region of Hesse, for example, we counted over 400 skinned toads on a water surface of around 2,000 square meters in one day.” This confirms previous findings that raccoons can develop into specialists that prefer certain species.

Another indication that native amphibians and reptiles are regularly preyed upon by raccoons came from the analysis of the parasites. “Unlike stomach content analyses, this also allows conclusions to be drawn about more distant interaction processes between the animals and the food organisms,” it said. A total of 16 species of parasites were detected on and in the raccoons.

“Interestingly, we also identified parasites that are typical of amphibians and reptiles,” explained Klimpel. This is another indication that native amphibians and reptiles are regularly eaten by raccoons.