Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?

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It is one of the most intriguing habits of Raccoons to wash their food before eating. Their innate behavior is to dip their food in water, roll it around with their paws, and consume it. A Raccoon’s scientific name is ProcyonLotor – a washing bear. 

So, why do raccoons wash their food? The answer can be found in the nerve endings of their paws. Raccoons have a habit of making their food wet so that the animal can gather more sensory information.

Moistening of food helps a Raccoon understand what they will put on their stomach. Many animals tend to inspect the food properly before taking it in. In the case of Raccoons, washing helps them figure out whether this particular food can be consumed or not. 

Raccoons Eating Habits

Raccoons are omnivores. They are capable of eating both animals as well as plant. Their primary diet includes fish, berries, nuts, fruits, crayfish, turtles, rabbits, mice, frogs, bird eggs, and muskrats. Raccoons also have a habit of rummaging through garbage cans. 

As Raccoons are nocturnal animals, they stay asleep during the day and come out at night to search for food. A raccoon also likes to catch fish and eat small reptiles or amphibians if they are residing near the water bodies. 

Do Raccoon Wash Their Food Before Eating?

This little sanitary act of Raccoons made many scientists wonder why Raccoons behave in such a manner. Humans depend on their eyesight before consuming food, while raccoons rely on their sense of touch. 

By soaking food in water, raccoons judge the type of food they are about to consume. Research experiments have concluded that a Raccoon can gather 2/3rd of sensory information by touching a food item. 

  • Mechanoreceptors in Raccoons

Mechanoreceptors are located in Raccoon’s paws. Due to their distinct characteristics, Raccoons can manipulate, hold, and interpret objects on the same level as other primates and humans. 

Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Hands?

It is a myth that a Raccoon washes its hands before eating food. Scientists agree with the fact that this animal has a ‘sense of cleanliness.’ Raccoons dip their hands in water and use them as sense organs. 

Raccoons make their hands wet to look for food and sense their surroundings. They can do this better because of the mechanoreceptors present on their hands. 

Are Raccoons the Cleanest Animals?

Raccoons keep themselves very clean. They are known for washing their food in the nearest water body and then consuming it. Raccoons are easily spotted near a water source.

Moreover, Raccoons dig latrines to let out their excretory products. Instead of doing it anywhere, they return to the same place marked as the latrine site. This keeps a raccoon conscious of its location to relieve itself. 

That is why Raccoons are considered one of the cleanest animals as they litter in a separate space rather than getting their denning sites or food sources dirty. 

Do Raccoons Bathe Themselves?

Though a raccoon is also known as a washing bear, it takes bath only once or twice a year. Generally, the animal keeps itself clean. It maintains a minimum hygiene routine. 

However, the animal likes to soak its food into the water before having it. This activates the sensors present on the hands of a raccoon and enhances its ability to judge different food parameters. 

Do Racoons Always Wash their Food?

No, Raccoons do not always wash their food. They do it occasionally. However, they are often seen with their hands dipped in water. They do this while they are searching for food.

A Raccoon puts its hands in a water body while searching for snails, worms, fish as well as crayfish. This is often mistaken as raccoons washing their food or hands before eating. 

Do raccoons Wash Their Hands And Food Before They Eat?

Unlike many other animals, Raccoons have this instinct of taking up their food to the nearest water body in the vicinity. Generally, a Raccoon will prefer dipping its food into the water rather than consuming it dry. 

However, this is not true all the time. Raccoons can also eat food without making it wet. For instance, they look for food inside garbage cans and eat leftovers. Making wet food acts as a guide for Raccoons to judge the food they are about to have. 

A Raccoon is often seen next to a water body trying to catch a fish or picking up seeds or fallen nuts along the coast of a stream. As Raccoon is an omnivores, they can also feed on fish and other small sea animals. 

Do Raccoons Produce Saliva?

Like every other mammal, a Raccoon produces saliva. It has well-developed salivary glands that help moisten the food before ingesting it. A raccoon uses these salivary glands to eat all types of food. 

If a raccoon has salivary glands, why does it feel necessary to soak its food into the water sometimes? The answer is simple. A Raccoon wants to gather the complete sensory information it can muster to decide the consumption of a particular food. 

By wetting their food, a Raccoon understands its nature in a better way. After doing so, it feels comfortable to take a bite and experience the different flavors of fruits and vegetables. 


Raccoon’s eating habits are quite different from other animals. They generally like to take their time and search out their food. Moreover, they travel miles to accomplish a proper meal.

Raccoons have this remarkable ability to wash their food before eating it up. They do this to activate the nerve endings present on their paws. This way, they are getting rid of the dirt present in their food and making sure that they consume the right kind of food particles. 

Raccoons are equally intelligent as humans when judging the kind of food they are putting in their mouths. That is why a Raccoon first feels confident about its food and then opens its mouth to put it there.