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.
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.
The Geauga County Fair (“geauga” being the Seneca word for “raccoon”) may be Ohio’s oldest county fair, but it’s otherwise not particularly well known. This year’s festivities, however, made national news as a raccoon (based on the pawprints left atop cakes) broke into the fairgrounds on August 31 and made a meal of seven of the elven best in show baked goods nominees out of about 1,500 baked goods products the animal had to choose from.
You can watch some hard hitting reporting on the burglary from Inside Edition below:
In response, the fair organizers put up wanted posters, although in an example of species profiling they used a generic picture of a raccoon versus one of the particular bandit(s) who engaged in the theft.
A raccoon has been spotted almost daily at Virginia Beach’s City Jail. No, he’s not an inmate! He was a stowaway on a supply shipment from Georgia. Ever since his arrival, the little guy has been wandering the grounds and making appearances at the window of the facility’s canteen (food supply storage) daily, begging for snacks. He apparently hasn’t yet penetrated the formidable structures, but the fact that he hasn’t left indicates he’s found adequate food and water. The employees at the jail, fond of his daily visitations, have taken to calling him–rather un-creatively–“Bandit.”
There are worse places to be stuck than Virginia Beach, even if it is the jail, if you can come and go as you please.
In case you didn’t know, and you shouldn’t, because knowing this would be weird: July is National Picnic Month! You know, that thing that sounds like a nice, wholesome activity to do with the family but is rarely worth the effort. Picnics and animals go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. The most famous combinations of the two are picnics paired with ants, and picnics paired with bears. Curse you, Yogi, you thieving scum! You’ve sullied the reputation of our national parks for the last time!
Dogs also tend to make an appearance at picnics. What’s more wholesome than a hilltop picnic while little Billy cavorts with Sergeant Pupper?
One animal that people often forget to expect with picnics is the raccoon. Cute and cuddly, these greedy little things will just walk right up and take your food, thinking it’s owed to them. Well, come on, they look so dang cute eating how could you deny giving them your food?
Take, for example, this pouncing procyon in Costa Roca who goes for someone’s bagged lunch?
Or this paddle boater in Florida who left her next meal on the front of her ride, ripe for the picking by a hungry critter.
Once you’ve gone through the trouble making the food, packing in, herding the family into a car and hauling them an hour or so to the most idyllic locations, don’t forget that you’re dining with nature, and you’d better have packed enough for everyone.