Raccoons are quite interesting animals with their own peculiarities in behavior. The fact that they wash food before eating it has been known for a long time. This trait is also displayed in their name - the raccoon-striped or Procyon lotor, which in Latin means "washing bear". In America, this unique animal for two centuries was considered the embodiment of cleanliness among other representatives of the animal world.
1. Rinsing procedure
The animal takes its prey with its paws and brings it to its nose, after which it again plunges it into the water and repeats the process of sniffing. Similar actions can be observed in the case of a raccoon living in its natural habitat, and if it lives in captivity, and there is a container with water nearby.
Of course, the information that the raccoon really washes food before eating is hardly taken seriously by anyone. Moreover, the water in a pond or basin can be much dirtier than the product itself.
There have been many different hypotheses on this score. One of them is something like gene memory. It was assumed that the animal does just that due to the fact that, perhaps, its ancestors often hunted for prey in shallow water. Buffon, a French biologist who lived from 1707 to 1788, suggested that this procedure was due to the raccoon's low saliva production. But in both the first and second cases, the scientists were mistaken.
2. What is the real reason for "soaking" food
In London, in 1962, one study was conducted on animals that were kept in captivity. In the course of it, scientists managed to find out that the meat of the animal was washed much more often than food of plant origin, but they did not remove the earthworms that were on it. The researchers also noticed that the feeling of prey was carried out not only in water, but also in its absence. Thus, the assumption that raccoons cleanse food from contamination in this way has not been confirmed.
The fact that these animals have long sensitive fingers is well known. In sensitivity, they are very close to the fingers of primates. Moreover, other predators do not possess this feature. And since raccoons' eyesight is not very good, they touch, sniff, and bring any object as close to their eyes as possible in order to examine it.
Another study, conducted in 1986, allowed scientists to determine that the nerve endings located on the raccoon's fingers, which are completely devoid of hair, are similar in structure to humans. All the necessary information about an object, from its shape to its structure, they receive precisely in the process of feeling. As a result, the animal understands whether it can be eaten, or whether the prey is inedible. And the most interesting thing is that the sensitivity level of the fingers becomes higher in water. The skin on the fingers becomes softer, and the excitability of the nerve endings becomes stronger. As a result, the animal receives more information that is important to it.
Under natural conditions, animals do not specifically search for water for dipping food into it. And if the hunt is carried out in shallow water, then they actually feel the prey. In captivity, in the absence of water within a radius of three meters from them, they do not use it at all.
Today on the Internet you can see many videos where raccoons are busy washing some items. The thing is that nature has endowed the stripers with not only ingenuity, but also curiosity. They are interested in everything new, unknown sensations. In the water, however, these very sensations are greatly exacerbated.
Continuing the theme of animals, see positive photos proving that the zoo is an unpredictable place.