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02 Apr

.All winter, we have had a clay dish on top of a large planter on our patio with a bird bath water heater and two rocks in it for birds to land and then sip on fresh water instead of solid ice. A couple weeks ago, we noticed various debris in the water in the dish. The debris included dirt and grass and other unidentifiable particles. Dutifully, my bird loving husband cleaned the dish and added fresh clean water, gently repositioning the rocks and heater. The next morning, the dish once again had dirty water with additional unknown particles including small rocks, grass and dirt.
A few days before this mystery unfolded, we started to see raccoons dead along the side of the roads, meaning that they were coming out of their dens where they slept most of the winter away! Afterall, raccoons can sleep for long stretches of time – up to a whole month – without venturing out in the elements of winter. Most likely they had been struck by passing cars and trucks. So, we put two and two together and figured that our clay dish filled with fresh clean water in the daytime was a perfect place for raccoons to wash grimy food at night!
So, you might ask, why do raccoons wash their food. The answer lies in the nerve endings in their paws. They wet their food to gather an increase in sensory information. By moistening their food, raccoons are able to further understand what they are eating. They depend on touch to gather the majority of their information.
According to, “water plays a very important role in a raccoon’s sense of touch by increasing the receptiveness of the nerve endings in their paws.” This is important because raccoons consume a variety of food, some of which is not safe. They tend to scavenge in dangerous places such as in garbage cans and it’s important for them to identify what is safe to eat.
It’s been a week or so now since the masked bandit used our clean, heated water in the clay dish on the patio to wash his food at night. So, that can only mean one of two things: either previously ice covered water is now open in ponds and creeks for it to wash its food in, OR the masked bandit has met its demise by the side of the road! Either way, hubby is happy. And so are the birds, for they once again have clean heated water all to themselves!

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Gramma Golden

Gramma Golden