Raccoons don’t wash their food

Tony Gennaro

The word “lotor” is part of the Latin scientific name for the raccoon; it means “the washer.” Apparently, the person who named the raccoon assumed the animal washed its food before eating it.
That is what captive raccoons appear to do. They put their food in water and manipulate it with their hands. But according to James S. Findley (“The Natural History of New Mexican Mammals,” The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1987), that may not be the case.
He stated that wild raccoons have never been observed washing food, and it has been suggested that captives behave as they do because, in the wild, they normally capture much of their food in water.
He concluded, therefore, that placing their food in water seems not to be a cleansing function.