Canton, Massachusetts

Baystate Wildlife | Raccoon Traits

Baystate Wildlife | Raccoon Traits

Baystate Wildlife’s 5 Traits that Make Raccoons Excellent Thieves

Raccoons are notorious for taking things that don’t belong to them. They don’t only steal food like other woodland creatures, but they’ve also been known to take cellphones and other personal items. It’s no wonder why they’ve been labeled as the thieves of the animal world. With that said, Baystate Wildlife presents a list of traits that helped these masked bandits live up to their reputation.

Like a Thief in the Night

Raccoons are nocturnal mammals. They typically search for food after the sun goes down, which is why you can sometimes hear them rummaging through your trash in the middle of the night. They don’t hibernate, so this is a habit you’ll encounter all year round, but they can sleep for weeks at a time in a den when food is scarce. Image Source: Ice news

The Black Mask

Raccoons wear a black mask, not to hide their identities in case they get caught on camera, but for the same reason that some football players wear black streaks under their eyes. The black fur around their eyes absorb light instead of reflecting it so that they don’t have to worry about glare reflecting in their eyes from the harsh light. At night, less peripheral light makes it easier for raccoons to see the contrast between objects, making it easier to navigate through the night.

Five Finger Discount

The term “five finger discount” is a euphemism for shoplifting. At the same time, raccoons have extremely dexterous front paws that have five fingers, making them almost like human hands. This makes it easier for them not only to grab things that they want to take, but to open trash cans, sort through rubbish, and distinguish between different items in the dark. In fact, a raccoon’s front paws even have four times more sensory receptors than their hind paws, exactly for this purpose.

Smarter than the Average Mammal

Raccoons are excellent at solving puzzles. We at Baystate Wildlife have plenty of experience with this. In the early 1900s, ethologist H.B. Davis gave raccoons a series of locks to crack, which involved manipulating various hooks, bolts, buttons, latches, and levers to get to a treat that was locked away. Of the 13 puzzles that Davis gave them, they solved 11. Some of them even had more than one lock.

Getting Away with the Loot

Even the best thieves get noticed sometimes. When the jig is up, raccoons can skedaddle at an average speed of 15 mph. That’s about as fast if not faster than the average human being. However, they are plantigrade, which means that they can stand on their hind legs when they want to reach something, but they generally run with all four paws hitting the ground. This means that whatever food that they’re running away with is usually carried in their mouth.

Although it can be annoying dealing with pesky raccoons who dig through the trash, Baystate Wildlife highly recommends seeking professional help to have them removed humanely and safely.