Do raccoons come out in the winter time? During cold spells they will curl up in a ball or lay on their backs, covering their eyes with their front paws and sleeping for days at a time. But if the cold weather snaps, it is not unusual for the nocturnal raccoons to come out in search of food.
If you give raccoons a problem, they'll typically figure out how to solve it as long as there's food involved. They have repeatedly demonstrated this in labs in addition to yards and campsites. Early in the 20th century, ethologist H.B. Davis presented 12 raccoons with a set of locks to pick. They had to negotiate hooks, bolts, buttons, latches, and levers to get to the rewards inside the boxes; some of the boxes had multiple locks. The raccoons eventually managed to bypass 11 of the 13 defenses.
How aggressive are raccoons? Aggressive raccoons. While a normal raccoon wouldn't attack a person, they will sometimes “bluff” if they feel threatened or cornered. Raccoons may huff, grunt, or “charge” at you, but they're just trying to scare you off so you'll leave them alone.
What can you do to keep raccoons away? Leaving pet food outdoors is a sure way to attract a local raccoon. Trash cans are another lure for these masked bandits. Use locking lids, or keep your garbage secured in the garage. Bird feeders are easy pickings for raccoons, so clean underneath the feeders daily, or consider taking them down at night.
In the early 20th century, raccoons were poised to become the go-to model for animal experiments. They were some of the most curious and intelligent animals available, scientists believed, so that meant they were an obvious choice for comparative psychology studies. Though raccoons were the subject of several psychology experiments at the turn of the century, they didn't stick around in labs for long. Unlike rats, they were hard to breed and maintain in large numbers. They also had the pesky tendencies to chew through their cages, pickpocket researchers, and hide out in air vents. Despite one researcher's plan to breed a tamer strain of raccoon, the creature's future in the lab never took off.
In order to stock fur farms, the first raccoons were sent to Europe in the 1920s. Many raccoons escaped and started a new population in the wild thanks to an unintentional bombing and some bored farmers looking to spice up the local wildlife. Raccoons are now regarded as an invasive species in Europe.
The animals were even sent to Japan. Their journey there began more virtuously: Rascal the Raccoon, the wholesome star of the anime animation, was a childhood idol among Japanese kids in the 1970s. Children clamored for their own pet raccoons, and at one time Japan was importing almost 1500 of them each month. When these pets became too large for families to properly care for them, many of them naturally ended up back in the wild.
Raccoons use their sense of touch to find food, as opposed to the majority of animals, who either use their senses of sight, sound, or smell. Their front paws are extremely agile and have nearly four times as many sensory receptors as their back paws, which is similar to the proportion of human hands to feet. When they are feeding at night, they need to be able to distinguish between items without being able to see them. Raccoons can increase their sense of touch by a process known as dousing. In reality, animals are soaking their paws to stimulate the nerve endings, even though it may appear to people that they are washing their food. A raccoon can feel more than it would otherwise be able to because water on its hands provides it additional sensory data to work with, similar to how light does for human eyes.