Month: October 2017

Raccoons in the Intelligence Tests


From Joshua Barkman

Raccoons made a splash in the news last week as the University of Wyoming’s Department of Zoology and Physiology released the results of a recent series of intelligence tests they conducted on raccoons.  The tests were modeled after the Aesop’s Fable of the Crow and the Pitcher. These tests have been performed on other animals with the purpose of identifying if they can understand the cause-and-effect of water displacement in order to obtain a prize (food.) In this case, marshmallows (which float) were place a in long, vertical tube of water and the raccoons were left to their own devices to figure out to use various objects provided to them to place them  in the tube to raise the treats to within arm’s length.

Sadly, the raccoons didn’t fare too well. Only two of the seven raccoons succeeded in performing the test in the desired method. I’m particularly fond of the fact that a third raccoon got the marshmallows, but did it by knocking over the tube. I think that one deserves credit for thinking outside the box!

The scientists are optimistic about future tests. They don’t think the low success rate was due to a lack of cognitive ability, so much as the fact raccoons are so exploratory and easily distracted. The term “herding cats” comes to mind.

Source: University of Wyoming News

International Raccoon Appreciation Day 2017

Art by PandaPaco

It’s International Raccoon Appreciation Day! That’s a day that’s barely recognized, but unlike a national day it’s barely recognized in even more places. It also strikes me as a little bizarre how it’s an International day, even though the raccoon is native to North America. I suppose as long as Canada and Mexico recognize it, it’s still international.  Native or not, though, the raccoon has managed to spread around the world, with (invasive) populations in Asia (mostly Japan) and Europe (ranging into Russia.)  It’s good to know that the rest of the world, should it so choose, can be exposed to the cuteness of raccoons. Although I’m sure many would prefer not to be.