Tuesday, January 4, 2011


The common yet cunning raccoon. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

The raccoon sometimes spelled as racoon is also known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon, northern raccoon and colloquially as coon. It is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon usually grows to a body length of 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in) and a body weight of 3.5 to 9 kg (8 to 20 lb). The raccoon is usually nocturnal and is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates. It has a grayish coat, of which almost 90% is dense underfur, which insulates against cold weather. Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythology of several Native American tribes. Raccoons can be very aggressive and extremely dangerous when cornered.

The fun fact about raccoons is that they are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later.

One hundred years ago, "Just how smart are raccoons?" was a serious academic question. Key figures in the debate were University of Oklahoma Psychologist Lawrence Cole and Herbert Burnham Davis, a grad student at Clark University in Massachusetts. Both researchers developed experiments based on puzzle boxes from which their test subjects had to escape by undoing a series of latches. Working independently, they came to similar conclusions: raccoons are indeed cunning.

They are smarter than cats and dogs; and, closest to monkeys in their mental abilities.

Heck...all they had to do was ask any gardener who has tried to outwit a raccoon how smart they are.

No comments: