The neuroscientist's brain


Aulas, aulas e mais aulas...

Posts recentes
Busca no site
« Some have more neurons, others, less... Where does one draw the line? | Main | Dogs (and raccoons) have the most neurons »

A raccoon school in my backyard

I wish I had raccoons in my backyard. So far it's only been dumb squirrels (I speak from experience, I know how few neurons they have in their cortex) that dug up my succulents so fastidiously that I gave up and took them indoors to my office.

I was happy to see the raccoon portrayed in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie: back then, we had just found out that these critters had very respectable, primate-like numbers of neurons in their cat-sized cerebral cortex, which is perfectly in line with all the lore that accompanies them (and that, having moved recently to the US from the tropics of Brazil, I have yet to witness on my own).

A reader of our new report on numbers of neurons in cat & dog & raccoon brains was kind enough to share with me the hilarious story below. If I had raccoons in my backyard, I might start leaving them puzzles to solve - a different one every night, tasty treat inside. Maybe they would soon advertise the new Raccoon School in the neighrborhood...


Generations of Barrys have been raccoon bait

Q. HOW MUCH FOOD SHOULD I TAKE? [when I go camping with my family]

A. A lot. You'll be providing food not only for your family, but also for the entire raccoon community. And please do not be so stupid as to think you can keep your food away from the raccoons. Raccoons are the most intelligent life form on earth, as was proven in the October 2000 world chess championship match in London, where a raccoon not only defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in six moves, but also took his sandwich. 

I know what raccoons are capable of. When I was a boy in rural Armonk, our garbage cans were regularly terrorized by a gang of brilliant criminal raccoons. I recall being awakened at 3 a.m. by loud noises, and looking out the window to see, by moonlight, my father, a peace-loving Presbyterian minister, charging around in the bushes in his pajamas, wildly swinging a baseball bat and saying non-Presbyterian words. Of course he did not get the raccoons; you NEVER get the raccoons. The raccoons were safe in their secret headquarters, recording my father via high-resolution night-vision videotape technology that humans would not develop for another 25 years. That particular video is still hugely popular on Raccoon Entertainment TV ("Tonight we present the classic episode, 'Crazed Minister in Pajamas' "). 

Ten years later, I was a counselor at Camp Sharparoon, which meant that I had to go camping in the woods with a group of boys and a nutritionally balanced food supply consisting of 75,000 small boxes of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. I tried to protect our food at night via the Boy Scout-handbook technique of suspending it from a rope strung between two trees; the raccoons, who were monitoring me via tiny cameras hidden in pine cones, thought this was hilarious. When darkness fell, they got the food down in seconds, using lasers. It would not surprise me to learn that they had paid the Boy Scouts to put that technique in the handbook.

Reader Comments (2)

Muito bom encontrar um "blog" seu. Parabéns pelo trabalho até aqui.

December 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAlessandro Loiola

We do have raccoons in our back yard. On occasion we have had them come in the cat door into the kitchen. We have that door blocked up at the moment. I leave dry cat food on our deck for them. I usually only see one but I did recently see two. A number of years ago we had five at one time in the backyard. Grandpa and grandma I assume with their child and grand children.

Opossums will eat anything the raccoons don't get.

We also have occasionally foxes, coyotes, and wild turkeys.

BTW we live in suburban Atlanta.

However, if you are not having any luck, you could try crows - very intelligent. They should certainly be available to you.

We feed them also dry cat food and stale bread. We have had as many as seven at a time - an entire family complete with a baby crow. I have seen the crows drive off cats by fussing at them and play with small hawks. If you establish a regular feeding location they will become regular visitors.

March 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>