Raccoons generally are considered to consist of seven species, one each in North and South America and five others on one or more islands off Florida, Mexico and in the West Indies. They have a stocky build and usually are solitary and nocturnal. The North American species is divided into about 25 geographic subspecies. Raccoons prefer swampy areas or forests near water and are not found in very high elevations, arid regions, or purely coniferous forests. They are omnivorous. Contrary to popular belief, raccoons in the wild do not wash their food before eating it. This habit is observed only among animals in captivity and is believed to be an outlet for the frustration of searching for small prey in water.