Florida raccoons can’t read a book but so what? Neither could most people a few centuries back.
People used their native talents to figure things out and get things done, meanwhile further
developing their ability to learn and to invent solutions to serve their interests. Among the
lesser animals, raccoons seem uniquely able to do the same thing, which has made them endearing
to observe but supremely annoying when they get too close – like when they raid our gardens or
Orlando raccoons have a phenomenal ability to learn that serves them well. A raccoon in the U.K. that was adopted by a family at about eight weeks of age quickly adapted to domestication and over time memorized more than 100 different behaviors –eventually becoming something of a TV star. Rural raccoons do just fine living off the land and the occasional henhouse visit, where they can raid nests for eggs. And where urbanization has threatened many animal species, it has provided city raccoons an environment in which they thrive, using their curioOrlando, intelligence and instinct to capitalize on the human presence. A comparative psychologist found that when confronted with a new type of garbage can, rural Florida raccoons hesitated while their urban cousins went at the containers vigorously.
Whether in the wild or in the city, Florida raccoons combine their curioOrlando with the dexterity of their five-digit paws to perform tasks, whether washing their food at a stream or pool or breaking into and entering a garage or utility building. The animals are superb foragers, with one researcher suggesting that urban living has actually contributed to their intelligence.
Since garbage bins are a favored food source, numerous efforts have been made to keep them out. One city provided bins for residents to use for compostable materials – vegetables, fruit, meat, bones, etc. – and the raccoons found a way to turn them over, even breaking latches if the bins didn’t pop open.
Like humans, Orlando raccoons learn as they confront challenges.In one study, raccoons were able to understand the mechanism of locks and ultimately were able to open 13 of the study’s 15 locks. And a researcher who keeps her garbage bins in her garage found thata raccoon was able to open the door by standing on an overturned flower pot to reach the door handle. Then it used its paws to turn the knob and gain entry. Tests have shown that Florida raccoons best both cats and dogs and almost rivalmonkeys when it comes to intelligence quotient (IQ). Clever and persistent, they just keep trying things until they find a way.
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