I Found A Raccoon?
These animals seem to get themselves into more trouble than most wildlife because they’re so curious, playful and nimble. They’re often discovered in the bottom of dumpsters where they find themselves with no way out after their scavenger hunt. A long board, thick tree branch, or even a ladder placed in the dumpster can provide them with the needed escape route when they’re then left alone.
Raccoons are rabies vector animals meaning they can carry the disease without showing any typical symptoms as can foxes, skunks, groundhogs, & bats. It is more common for raccoons in the Northeastern states to have the illness than the Midwest. But rabies is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted from animal to human & it is a very serious disease. A more common disease they can contract is carry is distemper - both the feline & canine, as well as, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, coccidiosis, and toxoplasmosis. Parasites are: roundworm (Baylisascaris), tapeworm, flukes, and heartworms. This said, it’s very important to keep your pets vaccinated.
There is a common myth that if you see a raccoon out during the day, it has rabies. This is absolutely not true. Mother raccoons
spend much of their time caring for their babies. Sometimes the only time for them to explore for food & water to to relieve themselves is when their babies are sleeping which is often during the day.
If you see a raccoon out during the day just observe its’ behavior from a safe distance.
A healthy raccoon will move with purpose, aware of its’ surroundings & displaying a generally healthy appearance. If an adult raccoon seems to be wandering aimlessly oblivious to the world around him, perhaps even walking in circles, or lying in a completely open area without fear this is more likely distemper. Sometimes their eyes and nose will be runny and their coat patchy and dull. They often appear as if they’re in a drunken state or have a fractured rear leg because the distemper virus can cause a hind end paralysis. The affected animals can be extremely unpredictable and should be reported to a wildlife center. Distemper is a highly contagious airborne disease that can spread rapidly.
Mother raccoons most generally give birth to 3-4 babies, called cubs or kits, in March/April and/or in September/October. Common places to find them are in hollowed out trees, under porches, attics and sheds. Often times, the weakest babies will get left behind when mom moves them or tragically the mother is killed by a car or predator & the defenseless babies
are left to die.
The litters are born with very light fur, eyes and ears shut tight. Eyes will begin to open between 2 and 3 weeks of age and their ears shortly after. When hungry or cold the babies will make a chattering, whiney noise which can be quite loud.
They remain in their birth den until about 7 or 8 weeks old at which time they can run, climb and start to play with the siblings. The mom will then begin to move them to alternate locations and by 10 weeks they’re eating solid foods and traveling with their mother. By 4 months they are generally weaned and somewhat independent.
Depending on the individual situation, rehabbers that have raised a litter can generally release between 16 & 24 weeks of age. This age allows their natural wild instincts to take over for self preservation.
If babies or injured raccoons have been located call a licensed wildlife rehabber immediately to take further instructions depending on the specific situation.