why do raccoons wash their food ?

Why do Raccoons Wash their Food?- Surprising facts!

Have you ever observed raccoons rummaging through your trash bins at night? These curious creatures are known for their mischievous habits. But one peculiar behavior that has intrigued nature enthusiasts for ages is their habit of washing their food. It’s a question of debate; why do raccoons wash their food?

Raccoons are genius creatures and no doubt they have a specific reason for doing so. In this article, I’ll discover the reasons behind their unique washing behavior, and explore their intelligence. Here you will find accurate and up-to-date information. So let’s read and explore the truth!

Why do raccoons wash their food?

Basically, raccoons wash their food to make it “wet” before eating.

Interestingly, the raccoon’s scientific name “Procyon lotor” means “washing bear.”  Basically, they don’t wash the food but make it moistened with water. Raccoons have an incredibly sensitive sense of touch. This creature’s brain focuses mainly on touch, using over two-thirds of its sensory power for it. Its small hands have over ten times more nerve endings than a human hand, making them incredibly sensitive. Basically, they wet the food to excite the nerve cells present in their paws.

Sensory cells(mechanoreceptors)

Raccoon paws have four to five times more mechanoreceptors than most other mammals. These sensory cells are present in the hairless paws of raccoons. Actually, raccoons are considered color-blind. They can’t see things properly. So they use their mechanoreceptors to estimate the food that want to eat. Amazingly the never cells become excited and more responsive when water touches their paws.

Research about washing food: 

Research conducted in London about raccoons’ food-washing habits. Basically, the purpose of this research was that; why do raccoons wash food before consuming it. The results were amazing. The scientists found that raccoons washed meat food more than plants. Surprisingly they don’t clean earthworms. It is observed that raccoons mimicked the washing motion, even without water. They logically wet their food before eating. But what is the purpose of wetting food, let’s know about it.

Purposes of wetting the food:

Here are some basic purposes of wetting the food.

1. Estimation of food

The sensory nerves in the paws of raccoons are highly sensitive and respond to various stimuli, including pressure, texture, weight, and temperature. Sensory nerves play a pivotal role when raccoons come into contact with objects or food items. These nerves allow them to gather information about their surroundings objects including food items. The sensitive nerves in their paws play a significant role to understand the characteristics of the food they are about to eat.

2. Soften the food:

However, some scientists believe that raccoons lack salivary glands. These glands do have not enough secretions to make the food moisten. Additionally, raccoons have a very narrow and sensitive esophagus. Therefore they dip the food in water to make it soft. Basically, moisturized food is easy to swallow. So they moisten their food before consuming it for better ease of eating. 

3. Removal of germs:

In the wild, raccoons eat fruits, nuts, insects, and small animals. Some research shows that they may wash their food to protect themselves from potential toxins and harmful substances present in food items.

How do raccoons grasp and wet the food?

People wonder about how raccoons grasp and wet the food. So, let me tell you. 

Raccoons have a unique body having dexterous paws. In fact, the raccoon’s paws resemble. So, they use both hands to grasp objects, even including their food. In truth, raccoons wet their food by dipping their forepaws into the water. Then, they rub or dunk the food into the water. This behavior of wetting food is known as food washing. It enhances their eating experience and makes the food easier to eat. Thus, raccoons are intelligent creatures with remarkable skills in wetting or washing food.


In conclusion, the question of “why do raccoons wash their food” has been answered through the lens of their tactile sensitivity. By wetting their food, they enhance their sense of touch, making it easier to detect the food items. Moreover, wet food is easy to eat for raccoons.

So, the next time you catch a glimpse of a raccoon washing its meal, take a moment to appreciate its intelligence. Some people think that raccoons are mischievous bandits, but at the same time, they are intelligent and clever. They logically wet their food.


Are raccoons a clean animal?

Yes, raccoons are clean animals in the animal kingdom. Usually, they groom themselves and wash their food before eating in their natural habitat.

Why do raccoons rub their hands?

Raccoons rub their hands together to clean and enhance their sense of touch, which helps them explore and understand their surroundings items including food.

Do Raccoons like water?

Yes, absolutely raccoons like water. They wash their food in the water; take bath; get protection from predators. In fact, they get a lot of benefits from water.

Are Raccoons good swimmers?

Yes, raccoons are good swimmers. They can swim in water at an average speed of 5 Kilometer in one hour. Besides it, they can stop their breath for 36 minutes underwater.

Do raccoons have to dip their food in water?

Raccoons wet their food to gather more sensory information, and moistening the food helps raccoons further understand what they are eating. In contrast to humans, who use eyesight to identify and understand specific things, raccoons rely on their touch to figure out certain information.

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