How Smart Are Raccoons – Raccoon Intelligence FACTS

Wondering Just How Smart are Raccoons? Are they smarter than common household Pets?

In this guide you will learn:

  • If Raccoons are Smart & Just how Smart they are,
  • Why are Raccoons so Smart & Is it possible to Train a Raccoon,
  • If Raccoons are Smarter than Dogs, Cats or even Monkeys!

As well as numerous raccoon personality traits, if raccoons feel emotions, and if raccoons are able to be domesticated.

In addition, some raccoon intelligence facts at the end & a few examples of EXTREMELY Smart Raccoons to see a peek at raccoon behaviour.

Are Raccoons Smart?

Raccoons are known to be extremely intelligent and smart, their nickname ”Masked Bandit ” doesn’t only refer to their mask-like fur.

Raccoons are very sneaky and can break into homes, through locks, and some have been known to open car doors!

When it comes to thinking fast – a Raccoon can be even smarter than a toddler,for this reason, they are extremely hard to trap and are known to beat even the hardest traps.

It is said their curiosity is one of the main reasons they are so smart and why it’s incredibly hard to keep raccoons away.

With them being curious about everything they run into, they eventually learn at an excelled rate compared to other animals.

As raccoons are considered pests, it was thought with human colonization these animals would back away, but raccoons have done the opposite.

Raccoons have learned, studied, and evolved due to humans.

They encounter odd foods, structures, people and these experiences allow them to change their behavior to better adapt and survive in the urban jungle.

Raccoons are very adaptable creatures that can learn from other species.

Just How Intelligent are Raccoons

Before we get into just how intelligent raccoons are, first we need to know how researchers test for intelligence in animals. It is quite different for different animals, they go through rigorous testing that is specifically made for them.

Testing intelligence in animals requires lots of information about the animal.

The goal is to provide a test that measures their mental ability, but each test is different for each animal. While each test is different, they are essentially completing the same task, just in different proportions.

How do they test Intelligence in Raccoons?

When testing the intelligence of raccoons they are measured by their response to problem-solving tests.

Raccoon’s responses are usually more innovative than most animals, even some toddlers.

Example #1 includes a study done with raccoons recovering marshmallows from a container with little water, leaving the raccoon in search of ways to get the marshmallow.

The first two raccoons placed rocks within the container to raise the water, while the last one tipped the container over.

It is a smart move for such a hefty job to get the marshmallow.

Example #2 includes scientists studying raccoons trying to open trash can lids that are specifically made to keep raccoons out.

After each try, the raccoons seemed to accomplish the goal quicker and more effectively.

This is due to them learning what worked and what didn’t in previous stages.

While raccoons are very intelligent and can make a great animal for lab testing due to the rapid learning from past experiences; raccoons are a bit too smart for technicians.

In labs, most raccoons escaped their cages and hid within hidden vents!

With raccoons being aggressive when they feel threatened, this could deem very dangerous for researchers.

For this reason, Raccoons are rarely ever used in lab testing.

Can Raccoons Use Tools?

Raccoons are able to use tools! This is due to their hand shape, which is very similar to apes and even humans!

They have 5 separated fingers with a thumb, allowing them to hold and grip objects. They are known for being able to open jars, locks, and food packaging.

Why Do Raccoons Wash their food?

It was previously researched that raccoons wash their food, but this has been proven wrong. They are essentially feeling the food with their super-sensitive paws.

Their paws contain little hairs that can sense and take in information.

When water is involved it ups the sensitivity that can allow them to detect if what they are inspecting is edible.

Why are Raccoons so Smart

Raccoons are so smart due to them learning from their mistakes by taking their past experiences and analyzing them to situations they have in the future.

Raccoon Brain

Raccoon’s brain is moderately small but contains 438 million neurons, which is what helps process information.

In previous studies, it has been said that intelligence is based on brain size or even how many neurons it contains, but that is completely false.

There is no link between brain size and the number of neurons to how intelligent an animal is but can help get an IQ.

Raccoons Have a very Good Memory

With their ability to learn from their mistakes, it comes with a great memory that can allow them to remember problem solutions for more than 3+ years.

This means raccoons can locations they have previously been at, including dens, food and water source, and even your home.

Remembering Interactions

Raccoons can remember all interactions they encounter, whether it is with humans, other animals, or even other raccoons.

These interactions will help them modify their behaviour when running into the same previous situations.

Communication & Emotions

Although raccoons are lonely animals, communicating is no feat for them as they have over 200 specific sounds they use.

They also have about 15 different calls they use during mating seasons, hunting, and even calling kits.

These include growling, yipping, and even hissing. Kits are known to sound like they are crying.

The topic of animals feeling emotions is still being regularly studied, with that being said raccoons can feel a degree of emotions such as love, hatred, relief, anger, fear, and even a sense of happiness.

Are Raccoons Smarter than Dogs?

While dogs have more neutrons, about 530 million, and have been domesticated for a while, raccoons are still quite smarter.

This is due to their responses in a problem-solving test such as the marshmallow one.

Another test conducted was memory tests, it was produced by Walter Hunter.

He studied both dogs and raccoons and how well their memory is. The results showed that raccoons had a faster memory than dogs, as well as longevity in that memory.

This means raccoons can memorize faster and for longer periods of time.

Raccoons can recognize more objects and sense more changes within the environment.

Smarter than Cats

With raccoons being smarter than dogs, they are also smarter than cats. This is due to their IQ test results.

When using the marshmallow tests, cats were said to simply walk away when they realized they were unable to reach the food.

While raccoons worked until they figured it out.

Are Raccoons Smarter than Monkeys?

With monkey’s IQ being just under humans, they are very intelligent and some are even known to learn sign language.

With this being, monkeys are smarter than raccoons, but raccoons are just under monkeys.

Raccoons rank in the top 3 with humans taking first and monkeys accepting second.

This is an awesome feat, raccoons have beat most animals with their sneaky, smart brain.

Is it possible to Train a Raccoon?

When raised with humans, raccoons tend to learn and respond to their names as well as interact with a few commands such as sit, talk, and even a handshake.

They have also been known to use a litter box but they can be quite picky when choosing a place to lay their waste.

Raccoons most commonly show mischievous personalities, as they do very sneaky things such as rummaging in trash bins or unlocking the yard gate.

Their curiosity gets the best of them in most cases.

Also read: What to do If you see a Raccoon

Can Raccoons be Pets

While yes it is true raccoons can make great pets, they aren’t fully domesticated yet.

In comparison to cats or dogs, raccoons have a long way to go but they can evolve with humans even more extensively, so it is possible.

When a raccoon is raised in captivity,raccoons can form a bond with its human.

They could be cuddly at times but will bite if scared.

This is a common thing for them, and it is not something easily stopped as that is their distinctive behavior.

As raccoons aren’t domesticated, if they are raised in captivity they make great pets… well maybe not super great but it is a different experience having one.

Before owning one, it is best to study and prepare yourself, as raccoons can be super mischievous and will wreak havoc.

There are few reputable breeders within the United States, so it’s best to do your research.  Contact, question, and find reviews of these breeders.

It is illegal in some states and un-moral to remove a raccoon from the wild so only purchase from reputable breeders.

These are the states that Allows Raccoons to be kept as pets:

  • Arkansas,
  • Delaware,
  • Florida,
  • Indiana,
  • Nebraska,
  • North Carolina,
  • South Carolina,
  • Virginia, Michigan,
  • Wyoming,
  • Wisconsin,
  • Texas,
  • Rhode Island,
  • Oklahoma,
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia.

While you can own a raccoon, you will need permits and proof you can provide this exotic animal with a humane environment. Please refer to your state’s laws to determine if you can own one.

Top 3 Smartest Raccoons

  1. Our top spot goes to Melanie. A small town raccoon from Great Britain. She has made her debut on youtube doing many human activities. She has learned how to dance, sweep floors, and even ride a bike!
  2. Our second spot goes to the “rolling raccoon”, a chunky bandit that is seen doing somersaults in its hallway!
  3. Our third spot goes to a raccoon that was rescued as a baby and took being a human seriously. He is said to act just like a toddler and shows appreciation for being rescued.

Raccoon Intelligence Facts:

  • Raccoons’ intelligence evolved alongside humans as they are always nearby watching, learning, and mimicking.


  • Raccoons have one of the highest IQs due to their ability to problem solve fast and efficiently. They are determined creatures.


  • Raccoons’ paws are akin to human hands. We both share 4 fingers as well as an opposable thumb. They are about the size of a toddler’s hands and don’t seem to grow any larger than that.


  • The hair-like follicles within a raccoon’s paws allow them to gather and retain information. This information will stick with them for years.


  • Raccoons’ paws have also been known to detect poison within or on foods, they avoid eating these.


  • Raccoons are known to remember things for up to 3 years on average. Some have been known to remember solutions to problems for about 5-6 years.


  • With raccoons being normally solitary, they are always alone. This is due to their frontal cortex being the smallest of all animals.


  • Stealing is a very common hobby for raccoons. Anything they want, they will be determined to get through any means.


  • Raccoons are smart enough to survive anywhere, which could not be said for most animals. They are very adaptable and can eat really anything.


  • Raccoons can communicate more than most animals, they have numerous sounds they use. Each of the 200 sounds means different things, some including if they have found food, water, or even large predators to let other animals know.