When to Intervene
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty walking
- Goopy eyes and nose,
- Obvious injury
- Emaciated and dehydrated
- Dragging any limbs
- Out in the daylight and not attempting to move away.
Do not attempt to rescue on your own. Call your local animal control officer or wildlife center.
If a young raccoon is coordinated, can climb, avoids humans, and is quiet, it is probably old enough to be on its own. If any of the above traits are not present, it may need help.
Possible orphan: It is very important to give mother raccoons every opportunity to find and continue to care for their babies. Unless you know for a fact that the mother has been trapped or killed, if you find a healthy baby, consider whether you are certain the baby you found belongs to the adult you think has been removed or died. More than one adult raccoon can live in a small area, so unless the raccoon was removed directly from the den site, you should try to temporarily leave the baby for its mother before intervening further.
If the baby is found INSIDE a den, follow these steps:
- Leave the den alone and watch from a distance for several hours. It is possible that she is still around but has become temporarily separated from her baby. If you are too close, she will not approach.
- If possible, temporarily stop any activities going on near the den site that might scare the mother. If you have pets or children, you must keep them inside. Do not attempt if there are predators or other pets close by.
- In addition to watching for the mother, there is a simple step you can take to find out if the mother returns for her baby overnight. Leave a light dusting of flour in the area surrounding the den to check for fresh tracks indicating that the mother has returned. Check the following morning to see if the flour has raccoon tracks leading to the den. If so, the mother has likely returned to the den overnight and is caring for her young.
If the baby is found OUTSIDE the den, you can still attempt to reunite with some extra steps to keep it warm and safe.
- Set up a box with clean linens on the bottom Cut some air holes and cut a large section in one of the sides to create a flap for an entrance. This allows the mother to reach in and get her babies. Make sure the hole is large enough for an adult raccoon.
- Put on garden gloves, cover the baby with a cloth, and scoop it up into the box, leaving the linen in with the baby. Close the top of the box. The mother can get to her babies through the large, circular hole. Make sure to cover the babies with spare linens so that they are not exposed to the weather. Do not put the box directly in contact with the ground. Use a piece of cardboard, blankets, or leaves under the box to act as insulation.
- If you think the baby is old enough to bite, do not pick it up. Try the same set up by putting a laundry basket over the top of the baby and place a rock on top. It should be easy enough for the mother to push the basket off.
- Handle any baby raccoon as little as possible!
- If you can provide a source of heat it is important. Mothers are more likely to take back a warm baby. The best thing to use is a heating pad set on LOW under half of the box, because it provides a nice consistent source of heat. If you don’t have a heating pad, you can use hand warmers packs, or a rice sock. Do not place a heating pad directly against the babies. In the case of stormy weather, keep the baby in the box and bring it inside until the weather clears; mom won’t be looking for it in the middle of a storm. As soon as the weather clears, put the baby back out where it was found. Do not handle the baby!!!
- Leave the container in the area where the baby was found or as close as possible.
- Check after one full night, from dusk until dawn, even if found during the day. Mother raccoons are most likely to retrieve their babies when it’s dark, and there are fewer people around. Stay far away from the box so that you do not scare the mother. Either monitor from a distance or return to check the box periodically.
When to Intervene
If it has any of the following, it needs help:
- Obvious signs of illness or injury, visible wounds, bloody nose, injured limbs, twitching/shaking, or discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Known contact with a cat or dog, even if no injuries or puncture wounds are visible.
- Bugs or fleas crawling on the baby, or fly larvae clinging to its fur (These look like little grains of rice).
- Mother is known to be dead or has not returned after attempts to reunite.
Use the steps outlined above to contain the baby. Please bring it to a wildlife center as soon as possible.!! If it is old enough to potentially bite, or you are not comfortable handling it, please contact your local animal control officer for assistance. Make sure the baby or juvenile is safely contained and, keep it warm, dark, and quiet.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REHABILITATE ON YOUR OWN. It is against the law to keep it in your care. It is also essential that no rescued raccoon be given any food or water. It is likely that it is suffering from shock. Giving it food or water can prove fatal.
Raccoons can carry rabies and other zoonotic diseases. Do not allow children to pet the animal, make sure you have gloves or something else covering your hands, and dispose of any items used to contain the animal(s)