A Real Wash-bear
Every time this girl gets a cookie, she promptly takes it to the pan of water on the deck and dunks it. I've observed this behavior in a pet raccoon my family had when I was a kid. The funniest thing was when he would take a handful of sticky, cooked rice and try to dunk it. The clump would disintegrate in his hands, and he'd come up with nothing. But I haven't seen this behavior in wild raccoons. This girl only does it with the cookies. She doesn't try to dunk the dog food, maybe because it's too small.
There is a myth that raccoons don't have saliva glands, and that is why they wet their food. This isn't true. There is a better theory that the water makes their hands more sensitive, and they can better tell what they're eating. This makes some sense, because they do seem to find, and examine, their food by touch. (It's funny to watch them probing in a bowl for the dog food with their hands, while their gaze is somewhere completely different.) But this girl knows what a cookie is, so I don't think she dunks it to examine it. Now, if we kept a pan of milk out on the deck . . .
Text and Images Copyright © 1999 David Wittler