Do Raccoons Have Hands?

Is there a technical definition of “hands” in the Zoological Sciences? Raccoons, and lemurs, and pandas, and even mice have forepaws that have a lot of dexterity and versatility. But are they “hands” in a formal, scientifically-agreed-upon sense?

Not sure but apparently they don’t have opposable thumbs like primates.

According to Wikipedia, raccoons don’t have opposable thumbs, ergo, they have paws and not hands.

It depends on context. A hand can refer to only animals with opposable thumbs, ie primates (including lemurs) and koalas; to any dexterous front appendage (racoons); or to any front appendage (the hand of birds and bats forms their wings, but the part of the hand that does so differs).

Also according to Wikipedia, raccoons are generally referred to as having hands despite this:

I think saying that racoons have hands is anthropomorphizing them.

Waxy monkey tree frogs have opposable thumbs but I would not say that means they have “hands.”

IMHO hands are things used more for manipulating things than for walking on. I do not know what is the consensus in the scientific community.

All primates aside from humans walk on their hands as well as use them to manipulate things. And raccoons do a lot of manipulating.

Also chimps have opposable big toes so one could argue they have four hands though I’ve never really seen anyone make that claim. Humans obviously don’t have opposable big toes but I’m pretty good at picking stuff up with my feet, therefore do I have four hands?

Dolphins have hands, although apparently in an early stage of development.

BTW, the dolphin laboratory Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, mentioned in the article, was a real place for many years. Bona-fide photo taken there, circa 1983.

To the best of my knowledge, no. “Hand” is an informal, popular term, not a technical one.

As such, as indicated by Babale, it can be used with different meanings. Just defining it as an appendage with opposable digits would mean that many animals have “hands” on their feet.:wink:

If you’re looking for a scientific term for hands and hand-equivalents in other species, “forelimb” is probably as close as you’ll get.

Or a Bengali term:
Different things that have the same name (where you live) and nobody gets confused - Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share (MPSIMS) - Straight Dope Message Board

We would be doomed if they had opposable thumbs.

See, just not scientifically, those look like what I would hall hands. Plus he looks like he’s giving you the finger there.

If clocks can have hands, why can’t raccoons?

English is screwy, sure enough.

If raccoons used their forepaws for pointing, I would definitely say they were hands.

Grin! Thank you all! Wikipedia is a decent source, but Colibri seems to have the best factual answer, i.e., that there isn’t a formal scientific definition. That said, I vote for “yes, Raccoons have hands.” But where does one stop? Mice can pick things up quite dexterously!

With raccoons, I think it’s a combination of dexterity and perceived intelligence. Case in point: many years ago, the City of Toronto launched a composting program for kitchen waste, in support of which every household got a “green bin” for kitchen waste. This was a tall, narrow closed container secured by a “raccoon-proof latch”, so called because it was believed that raccoons would never figure it out, and even if they did, could not manage the manipulation required to unlatch it.

But the bins contained what the raccoons felt was an irresistible banquet, and the only problem with the latch was that (a) the raccoons did figure it out, and (b) they did manage to unlatch it. :grinning:

The city eventually had to redesign and reissue the bins, this time presumably using designers who were smarter than raccoons.

Looking at the “Raccoons Playing Poker” display a few posts up …

A friend of mine in high school had a pet raccoon. I earnestly thought it would be possible to teach that raccoon to deal playing cards. Probably not shuffle, though :slightly_smiling_face: