This website is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Hands?

Last Updated: 14.07.24


Various raccoon repellents have proved to offer amazing results in chasing away these annoying creatures and we wrote an entire article about them – you should check it out. Moreover, these little creatures can also be very destructive which means that they can cause some serious damage to your property.

Also, raccoons may seem adorable and harmless animals, but you shouldn’t let yourself fooled by their cute appearance as you might end up very disappointed. They are cute, nobody denies it, but they can become aggressive at times if they feel threatened. What they really want is to find food and they can tear your yard apart while looking for it.

But, besides their common behavior that many of us are aware of, these small animals are also very interesting in one way – they have been surprised washing their hands and their food before eating it. Weird and hard to believe, right? Well, the truth is that people have different opinions regarding this aspect, but let’s find out more.


Myth or reality

We do it all the time, so why is it so hard for us to believe that raccoons wash their hands or food before they eat? They are entitled to be as clean and as thorough as possible with their food, as we all know that food contamination is a big thing. But, is this the reason why raccoons dampen their hands and food in the water; is it because they want to be very clean?

The answers to these questions are not very precise, as many people have various opinions, and while others accept the fact that they just behave like humans, others don’t really want to see things this way. The important aspect is that the reason for this unique behavior is still unknown, which means that people can keep their own opinions.

It all started when this furry mammal was noticed to refuse to eat just because there was no water around. It does happen for them sometimes to accept to ingest their food without washing it, but they are not very happy about it. Moreover, you should know that this behavior doesn’t apply to all species of raccoons.

There are some types of raccoons that don’t really mind eating the food without washing it; they actually don’t wash it all, they just eat it as is. They can be compared with humans on this matter as there are so many people who are very confident to eat their food without feeling the need to wash it. Also, when it comes to washing their hands, the situation is very similar.

Raccoons and their unconventional behavior

Raccoons are wild animals that can seem very nice at first sight, but as soon as they will show their true selves to you, the chances are that you will not be very happy. They are not only able to cause significant damages by destroying your garden or tearing through your trash bags, but these annoying little creatures are also disease carriers putting your health at risk.

You can also distinguish raccoons from other animals that look very similar by the light and dark circles around their tail. They love to act in the dark, and that is why you will not see one during the day. But, in the wild, these animals (some of them, at least), love to refresh their hands and food with water, and we believe that this behavior has nothing to do with cleanliness.

First of all, the water they use to “wash” their food is not very clean which makes us think that if they were as clean as their behavior suggests, they might have preferred clean water, only. Moreover, they catch the food in the water and then they decide to still wash it; even if it came from the water! This makes us assume that they might have a certain preference for wet food.

Also, it is important to mention that the food they eat is usually found in muddy waters which makes us wonder once again why they need to water their food before they eat it. Their primary diet consists of fish, frogs, crayfish, and clams – they catch these during the night. Other foods that they enjoy eating consist of nuts, fruits, berries, and young sheaves of corn.


The real reason behind

As we have already mentioned, raccoons do not choose to wash their hands before they eat just because they were taught by their parents or because they want to avoid getting sick. The main reason behind this unique behavior is the fact they are dependent on their hands. This means, that they can use their hands to feel certain things better.

The same goes for their food – they want to feel the texture better, and that is why they dip their hands and food into the water. Moreover, these clever little animals will even rub their food very well into their hands before dumping it again. What seems like a raccoon washing his/her hands before eating, it is actually a sign of how important their hands are to them.

They have been observed having this behavior even when they had no water around, they will do it in the air. This tells us a lot, at least we can agree that they don’t see this action as a way of becoming cleaner. Moreover, when they are in the cities, the same raccoons that “washed” their hands and food before eating, will trash garbage cans for food.

We think that if they were so worried about being clean, they would refuse to perform this action without water. Furthermore, trash cans are quite messy, we can all agree, so they wouldn’t choose to fish for food in those kinds of places. However, raccoons are clean animals, but the story with washing their hands before they eat is a bit too much for us to believe.

They live in places where there is water

Raccoons prefer to live in places where they can have access to water and trees and their home is usually in a hollow limb or the trunk of a tree. Also, when they are in places where there is no water around, they will still mimic that they are washing their food and their hands.

It is believed that they do this because they are very good with their hands – they depend on their hands for most of their daily activities. Furthermore, they use their hands so well that they can be compared to primate hands in terms of dexterity.

You might be amazed to find out that they make such good use of their hands since they don’t have opposable thumbs, but believe it or not, they have managed to compensate their poor eyesight with the tactile advantage offered by the superior use of their hands.

Being able to coordinate their hands so well, offers them the chance to feel certain things better than other mammals. Moreover, by watering their hands all the time, what they actually do is to make them more sensitive so that they can feel more. This is super smart, and they should definitely be given credit for that.




1) The Raccoon –

2) Raccoons may sometimes be very aggressive

3) Facts About Raccoons

4) Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?



Leave a comment

0 Comments Protection Status