We wash vegetables before cooking it. And we wash our hands before we start eating. That is because we have been told that washing would clean our food and that cleanliness is necessary to keep diseases away. But, have you seen cows, dogs or cats wash their food? They don’t.
But there is one kind of furry mammals called racoons, which wash their food before eating. And it has been noticed that racoons refuse to eat if they cannot find water around. Even if they do, they don’t look too happy about it. Some other kinds of racoons eat without washing their food.
The reason for this unconventional behaviour is not known. What is known is that it is not because they have a sense of cleanliness. Because they don’t seem to mind if the water they are using is dirty. And, they also wash the food they have caught in the water! Probably, they like their food wet.
Actually, most of their food is found in muddy waters. They eat mainly crayfish, clams, fish and frogs that they hunt for in the night. They also eat nuts, berries, fruits and young sheaves of corn whenever they find them. They live in places where there is water and trees for dens. Usually, they set up home in a hollow limb or trunk of a tree.
Racoons have young ones once a year, with four or five to a litter. And, within a few months, the young raccoons are big enough to start life on their own.
Found in the stretch between southern Canada and Panama, they are grey or brown in colour and may have yellow stripes on them. They have a bushy, ringed tail, which is 25 centimetres long. Racoons vary in size from about 65 to 90 centimetres long. In weight, they range from one to over 11 kilograms. The eyes are covered with a black mask. The ears are medium-sized, the nose pointed, and the front feet are used like hands.