While much human labor involves manipulating tools, most wild creatures depend solely on their hands to do the work for them. Imagine how finger numbing it would be to peel back a lawn using only your hands? The raccoon whose handiwork this is must have been peeling for some time before he made such a mess of my lawn.
Maybe I’d be in a peeling frenzy too if I shared his appetite for worms. Considering all the worms I found under the sod, it’s no wonder he keeps coming back for more.
Besides their awesome dexterity, raccoons’ compulsive hand washing is also a source of fascination. One popular theory suggests that these ‘Little Washing Bears’ simply wash their food prior to eating it. However, researchers Rasmusson and Turnbull discovered that wetting actually enhances the sensitivity of raccoons’ hand nerves (‘Sensory innervation of the raccoon forepaw: 2. Response properties and classification of slowly adapting fibers’ ). This wetting process would certainly give raccoons more information regarding the edibility of their food and make it easier for them to catch food underwater.
If women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
~ Red Green
Raccoons have managed to use their dexterity to repeatedly lift off my garbage can lid, pluck tomatoes from my garden and abscond with the suet balls I thought I had carefully tied to tree branches.
Considering how much their survival is linked to their handiwork, I wonder to what extent a raccoon’s handiness is considered in the choice of mates.
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012