Raccoons are both highly intelligent and curious little creatures with a set of highly dexterous hands that are responsible for causing a lot of mischief when out foraging for food. The fingers of a raccoon are marvelous little appendages that help them to find ways into trash cans, ice chests, homes and campers. The paws of a raccoon have many touch receptors and a large portion of the raccoon’s brain is dedicated to the sensory receptors in their paws. A raccoon uses their hands to essentially “see” in situations such as foraging underwater and moving around in the dark.
Raccoon Facts. Raccoon Means Scrubs with Hands
The word raccoon comes from a Powhatan Native American word that means “scrubs with hands“. Raccoons can be destructive little critters and are responsible for damage to homes and other property in Austin, Texas and the surrounding areas. The experienced technicians at A-Tex Pest Management are the experts when it comes to raccoons and their patterns of behavior and have provided the following information to an age old debate – Do raccoons wash their food before they eat it?
Do Raccoons have a Shortage of Salivary Glands?
It is a common misconception for the general public to assume that raccoons wash their food before consumption. Raccoons use their hands as both tools and to sense the items they are handling which has led to the myth that raccoons wash their food before consuming it. In the past scientists were of the opinion that raccoons either had a shortage of salivary glands or chronic dry mouth which has further supported the food washing myth but additional studies have consistently disproved these theories.
Raccoons Rub & Wash their Hands & Other Things to Learn
The truth is that raccoons wet their food as a way to gather information about it from the nerve endings within their paws. When a raccoon moistens its food, it develops a greater understanding of what it is eating. Think of humans gathering information about their surroundings through the sense of sight, raccoons do the same thing only they gather information through their heightened sense of touch. When a raccoon feels an object including food, it gathers an amazing amount of sensory information. A raccoon’s paws have five times more mechanoreceptors (a sense organ or cell that responds to mechanical stimuli such as touch or sound) than other mammals. This heightened sense of touch allows raccoons to hold and manipulate as well as interpret objects as efficiently as other primates including humans.
Raccoon Diet & Behavior Facts
Water is an extremely important element to a raccoon’s sense of touch. Water increases the receptiveness of the nerve endings in the paws along with the raccoon’s tactile senses which respond in direct relation to touch or to the sense of touch. Research indicates that raccoons found wetting the skin upon their hands showed improved levels of sensitivity. Raccoon’s in the wild are often seen rolling and handling their prey which is an outlet for the raccoon’s constant need to use their hands to sense the world around them as well as forage for food. The truth of the matter is that raccoons do not wash their food in the same way that humans do. Raccoons are far less concerned about the food being clean than they are about looking for food and learning about it before putting into their mouths to eat it.