Raccoons are very adaptive and opportunistic creatures. They like living in or near human habitations because it is easier for them to find food. With their strong and dextrous paws, they may be able to get into areas of your home that you thought were completely secure, at which point you need raccoon removal in Durham. Raccoons’ paws are also extremely sensitive. Raccoons rely on their sense of touch the way dogs rely on their sense of smell, cats rely on their vision, and bats rely on their hearing.
Why Is a Raccoon’s Sense of Touch So Sensitive?
In the brains of mammals, including humans and raccoons, processing of sensory information takes place in the cerebral cortex, which is the outermost layer. A raccoon’s brain is highly specialized to interpret tactile impressions, with approximately two-thirds of the sensory perception area of the cerebral cortex devoted to that purpose.
The raccoon’s paws are well-equipped to collect tactile information for the cerebral cortex to interpret. Compared to most other mammals, the toes of a raccoon’s forepaws have four to five times more mechanoreceptor cells. These cells detect changes in pressure and other mechanical stimuli. This information allows them to discover a lot of information about an object by touch. The raccoon has more mechanoreceptor cells than any other mammal that lacks opposable thumbs. Primates, including humans, have comparable numbers of these cells in their hands.
Raccoons also have stiff hairs called vibrissae at the tips of each front toe above the claw. These are similar to cats’ whiskers and allow raccoons to identify an object without even making contact with its paw.
Why Did Raccoons Develop This Remarkable Sensitivity?
A raccoon’s natural habitat is in wooded areas along the banks of lakes and rivers. Raccoons are omnivores that can eat almost anything, but back then their main sources of food were aquatic creatures that lived buried in silt or mud or hidden under the water. Although raccoons have exceptionally sharp eyesight, it wouldn’t help them locate prey obscured this way. Therefore, they evolved highly sensitive tactile perception so that they could not only locate objects hidden in the water but identify, by touch alone, whether they were edible.
Even when raccoons live in urban areas and don’t find food in the water, their exceptional sense of touch has served them well. Their manual dexterity, combined with their prodigious intelligence, helps them to figure out how to open complicated locks to get food out of human garbage cans and storage bins.
How Does the Sense of Touch Affect Raccoons’ Behaviour?
Because raccoons’ paws are so sensitive, simply moving around could cause them extreme pain due to overstimulation. They have a thin layer of tough, horny skin over their front paws to protect them when they are walking. When a raccoon gets its paws wet, the water causes the protective outer layer to become more pliable, allowing the raccoon to use its tactile perception to the fullest extent.
Raccoons have often be observed to “douse” their food in water before eating it. To a human being, it may appear that the raccoon is washing the food. What it is really doing is getting its paws wet to soften the outer layer. This allows it to use its full tactile capability to determine what the object is and whether it is food.
Call Skedaddle for Raccoon Removal in Durham
Raccoons’ tactile intelligence helps them to break into human houses where they are not welcome. Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control takes steps to keep them from getting back in after removing them from the property. If you find evidence of raccoons in your Durham home, contact us for help right away.