Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Food
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Why do raccoons wash their food are a one-of-a-kind animal species in the animal kingdom due to their peculiar and remarkable characteristics.

One of their most intriguing characteristics is their practice of cleaning their food prior to consumption. This is both awe-inspiring and hilarious to watch.

Raccoons are quite fascinating animals. These black and white fur balls consume anything they can find. The majority of their food consists of fruits, vegetables, berries, insects, and fish. It is adorable to observe them when they eat. They consume their food while holding it in both hands. However, they are extremely well-mannered since, prior to chewing, they thoroughly rinse their food in the water. Now, there are a variety of possible causes for this, and we will address them in this post. So let’s go!

If you enjoy reading such entertaining and intriguing facts, you will also enjoy our information on Why do raccoons wash their food and why cats stick their tongues out.

What do Raccoons Eat?

Raccoons are omnivores that consume both vegetation and small animals, such as mice. They have become opportunistic eaters because they frequently find themselves in metropolitan environments devoid of fresh food. As a result, a raccoon’s traditional diet consists of seeds, eggs, fruits, and other items that these little animals commonly found in garbage cans.

The Raccoon’s Eating Habit

North American raccoons are unusual animals that are native to the continent. Their black “bandit” mask across and around the eyes is one of their most distinguishing characteristics, lending them a highly unique appearance.

What is most remarkable about raccoons, though, is not just their appearance, but also how they eat, or at least their tendency to wash their food. Before eating, raccoons do moisten their food with water. For many years, scientists and academics have been attempting to explain why raccoons behave as they do, but none of them can agree on a single explanation.

Prior to the publication of a study in the Somatosensory Research Journal in 1986, this was the case. This study revealed the reason why raccoons soak their food in water before eating, and the answer may surprise you!

How This Impacts The Handling of Your Raccoon Situations

Therefore, the next time you observe a raccoon cleaning its meal, you can be amused by the fact that it appears to be a very clean animal; after all, this is a delightful method to observe animals. However, recall the underlying cause of this conduct. When these intelligent nocturnal critters invade your property, you will need the assistance of a professional raccoon removal service.

Raccoon Foraging

Raccoons are exceptionally bright and adept at solving problems. They frequently use their intelligence to outsmart humans in an effort to keep them out of their homes and rubbish! Their intellect is advantageous when it comes to foraging for food. Raccoons are adept climbers, allowing them to access abandoned eggs in bird nests and insects living in the trees.

In addition, they have dexterous digits that allow them to manipulate their environment and obtain food from inaccessible locations. Their virtually opposable thumbs enable them to open screw-top jars and pick locks!

Are Raccoons Germophobes?

Raccoons consume food after submerging it in water. Due to this, many individuals believe they are germaphobes because they clean their food before consuming it. Now, this is not a particularly false statement! But there are undoubtedly further motives for this move.

A raccoon eating is likely one of the most amusing things to observe. They use their paws to hold their food, exactly as primates do with their hands. They then rinse their meal with water before shoving it into their mouths. It is a proven fact that raccoons take food from garbage and trash before running to the water to wash it. This washing is not simply indicative of their germophobia.

Clearly, this washing cleans and removes excess dirt from the food, but according to scientists, there are other reasons for this cleaning. According to studies, these mammals have fewer salivary glands in their mouths. Due to this, they require additional moisture from the environment while eating.

Washing food offers additional moisture and makes feeding easier for them. However, a raccoon’s nature is extremely neat and tidy! In contrast to other, more slothful animal species, they never forget to bathe and even wash their food. They even defecate in a nearly constant location and subsequently bury it. Others should learn from their behavior.

What Effect Does Water Have on Raccoon Diet?

In 1986, the journal Somatosensory Research published a study indicating that soaking the paws of a raccoon significantly increased its sensitivity. This finally improves the sensitivity of the nerve endings in their paws, resulting in a significant enhancement of their tactile senses.

Raccoons utilize water in a manner similar to how people utilize light. When light enters the human eye, the response of the optical nerve increases. This makes things easier to see for humans. Likewise, when a raccoon brushes water with its paw, its tactile nerves become more sensitive. Consequently, they are able to obtain additional information about their diet.

This is significant since raccoons are known to consume a wide variety of foods, not all of which are safe. Therefore, when scavenging for food, they must be able to distinguish between safe and unsafe foods.


Numerous people have been perplexed by the raccoon’s behavior to the point that experts have performed research to grasp it. As it turns out, they do not wash their food to clean it. They are engaging in what scientists refer to as dousing.

Dousing gives additional sensory input and enhances their understanding of the best food in their hands. It helps them understand the form, size, and feel of their food better because the majority of their meal consists of small, black objects.

Skedaddle Humane Skunk Removal

Raccoons in the wild are fun to behold, especially if you observe one “cleaning” and eating its food! However, you do not wish for one to reside in your home. At Skedaddle, we have the knowledge and skills to humanely evict the masked bandit from your house and relocate it to a more raccoon-friendly habitat! Contact our raccoon removal Oakville specialists immediately if you need assistance removing undesirable wildlife residents.

Front Paws of the Raccoon

The front paws of raccoons are highly sensitive. Their five lengthy fingers are ideal for sensing and investigating the surrounding environment. Their hand is so sensitive that it has five times as many mechanoreceptors as the average mammal. This critical adaption permits them to be successful in their endeavors.

The raccoon’s front paws are its primary tool for exploring and understanding its environment. When hunting for food or anything else in their habitat, they rely on their highly sensitive sense of touch, especially at night when vision is far less reliable than touch.


In conclusion, raccoons do not actually “wash” their food in the human sense. They do not do this to eliminate germs or bacteria, nor to eliminate dirt. We hope Now you know well why do raccoons wash their food.

They douse it to provide them with enhanced sensory information so they can identify the type of food being held and consumed. The majority of raccoons’ food consists of small, difficult-to-see things that would be easier to locate if their paws were wet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?

Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?

Raccoons are well known for their inclination to “wash” their food, yet they do not actually do so. Raccoons are not particularly hygienic, as they frequently dunk their food in the same body of water they use as a latrine (communal toilet).

Do raccoons wash their hands before consuming food?

They are not. Raccoons are the only hairy mammals that wash their food before consumption. And it has been observed that raccoons refuse to eat if there is no available water. Even if they do, they do not appear particularly pleased.

Which animal appears to wash its food before consuming it?

Those who observe that raccoons wash – or, more accurately, moisten – their food before consuming it have given the creatures a reputation for being extremely conscientious about food cleanliness.

What do they clean?

Their scientific name, Procyon lotor, translates literally to “washing bear.” In 1961, experts at the London Zoo investigated if these raccoons, which are known to carry rabies and roundworm, are actually as clean as they appear.

Do raccoons consume cats?

Do raccoons consume cats? Cats, small dogs, and other small animals can be consumed by raccoons, despite the fact that this has been a topic of considerable disagreement. If a raccoon is nearby, kittens will likely perish. The wild animal will undoubtedly attempt to assault and consume the kittens.

How intelligent are raccoons?

Raccoons are the second-smartest animal, enjoy the nightlife, and are incredibly powerful. “They are also adept at fixing problems,” he remarked.

Why are raccoons so vocal?

Raccoons use screams as a mode of communication to either scare other raccoons or attract a mate. It is also used to defend its area from other animals, so if you hear a raccoon screaming at night, it may be attempting to frighten away an intruder.

What attracts raccoons to marshmallows?

Raccoons find it extremely tasty and easy to chew. This fauna is naturally drawn to marshmallows due to their aroma, size, and form. It has a strong resemblance to eggs and will distract the raccoon inside the trap until it realizes it is caught.

What is the raccoon’s preferred food?

The raccoon’s favorite diet consists of aquatic organisms, such as crayfish, frogs, fish, snails, and clams. In addition to insects, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, they also consume deceased animals. Raccoons are not skilled hunters, but they do occasionally capture juvenile mice, rats, or squirrels.

What foods do raccoons avoid?

Although they are omnivorous, raccoons cannot consume the following: For raccoons, chocolate, onions, raisins, and macadamia nuts are poisonous. Garlic and bread are not harmful, although they can cause digestive discomfort in raccoons. Raccoons can develop health issues after consuming coffee, cocoa, and sweets.

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