Stumbling upon a raccoon in your trash can is annoying, to say the least. But once you look into those beady little eyes surrounded by dark fur, you realize that raccoons are just smaller, more street-wise pandas, and they start to grow on you. Today we're celebrating nature's notorious bandits, and you'll probably love it even if you found garbage all over your driveway this morning.
'Trash panda' is not a nickname bestowed lightly on these critters. Raccoons belong to the biological suborder Caniformia, which also includes dogs, bears, and you guessed it - red pandas. Alright, so they might not be genetically related to the Beijing equivalent, but they're just as fluffy and adorable.
Raccoons may seem like instinct-driven bandits in the wild, but they're more clever than they get credit for. After being studied numerous times by ethologists throughout the 1900's, raccoons were determined to have razor sharp memory, and demonstrated the ability to remember solutions to tasks for up to 3 years - which is basically their average lifespan. The next time you feel like calling them pests, keep in mind that they'll probably remember your face, your house, where you keep your trash...
Check out the cutest raccoons we could find below, and vote for the ones that scurried away with your heart.