The Calm, Quiet Raccoons Are the Ones to Watch Out For

In North America, the most common kind of bandits who try to take your stuff are raccoons, also known as trash pandas. They stand out among cute woodland creatures for their opposable thumbs and their cleverness. They will take your trash, your pet food, your garden vegetables, and anything else they think they can eat. New research into raccoon behavior reveals which raccoons are most likely to figure out how thwart your defenses against them

Lauren Stanton of UC Berkeley conducted experiments to individualize raccoons. She and her team trapped, tagged, and released raccoons over several years. But they also studied and documented each raccoon's behavior and personality traits while they had them. It turns out that the raccoons who were more quiet and docile in captivity were the ones who later learned to perform tasks for food the quickest. Could this be because they were more open to experiences? Loud, aggressive, and impulsive raccoons were more likely to flee from any human interaction. The impression one might get from reading about the study is that some raccoons tend to wait and watch and learn, making them more successful in performing normal raccoon tasks in the wild than their more frantic friends. -via Strange Company ā€‹

As an aside, there were four skunks who were accidentally included in the study, who showed similar trends. That might open up another research front for Stanton and her team. Meanwhile, we can be grateful that skunks do not have opposable thumbs.

(Image credit: Jerry Kirkhart

#raccoon #cognition #behavior

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