These masked bandits have quite a reputation for mischief and trouble making, but this is all a carefully constructed ruse to distract us from the fact that they are in fact quite brilliant little creatures.
Raccoons have hand like paws with limber little fingers, excellent for opening things, looking through trash, picking food up and even identifying objects before touching them, due to vibrissae, or tiny whisker – like hairs on their paws.
They are highly adaptable, and can live in almost any environment, and live off an incredibly varied diet. Whenever possible, raccoons will go for food that is high in sugar and carbs, explaining why going through human trash is one of their all - time favorite hobbies.
They are opportunistic animals, meaning that although quite capable of doing the work themselves, they will always look for an easy solution when finding a den or hunting for food. They will use abandoned dens, hollow trees, small caves and of course attics to sleep in, and will not hesitate to eat your pet’s food if you leave it easily accessible to them.
They are extremely clean animals, and have been known to wash their food before eating, in order to eliminate and mud or grit from it before putting it in their mouths.
Although they don’t have opposable thumbs, they are not deterred by latches, handles and some types or door knobs. They are smart enough to understand how a fridge door works, and can turn water faucets, knowing they will get running water from them.
They have great memories, and although not owners of great sight, due to their nocturnal habits, they are incredible at remembering faces and paths, and are able to learn from past experiences. Studies show that raccoons are excellent at learning tricks, figuring out manual puzzles and can escape from almost anywhere due to the fact that latches, handles and doors pose absolutely no obstacle to them whatsoever.
So, next time you see a raccoon in your back yard, remember to lock your doors and windows, keep your trash and pet’s food out of the way, and just let them roam freely, because chances are they are only just passing through in search of food.
We are the Pest Education Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on wildlife and pest removal education. Our approach utilizes Integrated Pest Management, a strategy advocating prevention and humane methods.