Mammals in Need

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Squirrel in need.

For information on these mammals in need, please scroll down.
White-tailed Deer

For more information on the following mammals in need, go to these sites from our partners at Operation Wildlife, and/or call Lakeside Nature Center at (816) 513-8960.


Raccoon in Need

Raccoon. Photo © Missouri Dept. of Conservation
Raccoons in Need.

Raccoons have adapted and probably even profited by human encroachment on their habitat. Their opportunistic and intelligent nature has helped them flourish in suburban and urban settings. Raccoons should be regarded with caution as they can carry diseases harmful to people and pets. In the natural world, raccoons snare a lot of their meals in the water. These nocturnal foragers use lightning-quick paws to grab crayfish, frogs, and other aquatic creatures. On land, they pluck mice and insects from their hiding places and raid nests for tasty eggs. Raccoons also eat fruit and plants including those grown in human gardens and farms. They will even open garbage cans to dine on the contents. They may inhabit a tree hole, fallen log, or a house’s attic. 

NOTE: The raccoon is classified as a rabies vector species (RVS), which means it’s an animal that can carry and transmit rabies. Technically, any mammal can do so, but raccoons are a higher risk. Thus, the animal is subject to certain laws by the state. Raccoons can carry rabies without exhibiting any signs of the disease. They are contagious to other susceptible animals. Because of this, their offspring can be born with the disease as well.

Distemper: Raccoons can carry both the feline and canine forms of distemper. While this is not transmittable to humans, it is fatal to the animal. Distemper is highly contagious and mothers can pass it to their young. 

Females have one to seven cubs in early summer. The babies are born furred and blind and similar in size to domestic kittens. Their eyes open at three to four weeks, and by eight weeks, the kits are nearly one-third grown. They are weaned at 10 to 12 weeks and begin traveling with their mother at this time. The young raccoons often spend the first two months or so of their lives high in a tree hole. Later, mother and young move to the ground when the cubs begin to explore on their own.

Baby raccoons can survive on their own when they are about the size of a football. Mother raccoons will begin bringing them down from denning areas in June/July when they weather gets hotter. She will often leave them unattended under bushes, near trees or sometimes against concrete foundations. Raccoons typically have more than one den site and babies may be moved if one den becomes damaged or is unusable.

Baby raccoons are best off with their mother. Their survival rate under the care of a human, even someone properly trained, is significantly lower than if left with mom.

More Information

For more information on found raccoons, go to this site at Operation Wildlife, Raccoons or call Lakeside Nature Center at (816) 513-8960.

Do not give food or water to a baby raccoon.

Because all wildlife have specialized milk and nursing specific to their species, it is not advised to give them milk or food. Sometimes even offering water can cause unintended side effects such as aspiration.

Found baby raccoons. What best matches your situation?

  • Found Baby Outside
    Baby raccoons uncovered in outdoor dens should be left alone if they appear healthy. Mom will come back and move them if the den has been damaged beyond repair. Sometimes moms get interrupted while moving babies between den sites and will drop or leave them. Give mom a chance to retrieve babies.Check the baby for signs if illness, injury or appearance of flies or fly eggs. If the baby appears cold but otherwise healthy, take inside and keep warm for the day. At dark, put back where you found them in a box with a towel or heat source such as water bottle, rice or bean bag (socks work well as bags) or hand warmers. In the morning, check box. If they babies are still there, they can come into the center for an assessment. If the babies appear healthy, a second reunite may be attempted. 
  • In House
    Raccoons are very adept at getting into attics, chimneys and basements. Blocking off the area of entry or repairing a hole is the best means of keeping raccoons out. If they do end up nesting in an area of the house, you have several options.
    1. Babies found in an attic, chimney or basement should also be left alone to allow the mother to finish raising them and then make the necessary repairs after she has exited with them.
    2. Install a reunion box near the point of entry to the nest. Put the babies in the reunion box and install an exclusion door at the point of entry. Mom will not be able to re-enter the nest site and will take the babies to one of her back-up dens. For more information and to obtain a reunion box contact Lakeside Nature Center.
    3. See our critter eviction page for information on removing the animals safely.
  • Pet Killed Mother
    Bring babies in or contact the Nature Center for instructions at (816) 513-8960.
  • Dead Adult Found Nearby
    If the dead animal is a female and appears to have been feeding recently, you may want to look for a nearby den. If found, contact the Nature Center for instructions at (816) 513-8960.
  • Critter Control Removed Mother 
    If you had a professional remove a nuisance animal, you need to contact that same company to remove any of their offspring.

Deer in Need

White-tailed Deer. Photo © Missouri Dept. of Conservation
Fawns in Need.

More Information

For more information on found deer, go to this site at Operation Wildlife, White-tailed Deer or call Lakeside Nature Center at (816) 513-8960.

Virginia Opossum in Need

Opossums in Need.

Opossums are North America’s only marsupial – they carry their babies in a pouch on their belly, just like a kangaroo. They have 52 teeth, 13 nipples, an opposable thumb, and prehensile tail that is capable of grasping.

These slow, non-aggressive animals have poor eyesight and are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. An adult opossum has an average life span of approximately two years. They are omnivores and eat both plants and animals. Their diet includes slugs, insects (including ticks), worms, fish, small rodents, eggs, wild berries, nuts, and rotting fruit. About 75% of the diet of urban and suburban adult opossum is carrion (dead animals).

Female gives birth to the first litter of the season in late January through March, with a second litter in late June through August. The young are born about 13 days from conception in an embryonic form and crawl directly into the mother’s pouch. They find and attach to a nipple and do not come off the nipple for the next two to three months. By that time, their eyes are open, and they are fully furred. The young opossum will travel outside the pouch onto the mother’s back, clinging to her fur, going back into the pouch to nurse. They do this until they reach independence at about five months.

Because of how opossums are raised, it is not possible to reunite a pouch young or one that is not independent with it’s mother.

Baby Opossum – To rescue or not to rescue.

  • Baby on Dead Mother
    Most baby opossum are found when someone stops to check an adult opossum lying on the street or highway. They may see a baby crawling on the female opossum’s belly or see something moving in her pouch. Any young opossum found with a dead mother or in a dead mother’s pouch needs to contact Lakeside Nature Center as soon as possible.Important: Do NOT attempt to take the babies off the mother’s nipple. The nipples extend all the way into the baby’s belly and often must be surgically removed. If forcibly removed, the nipple could completely detach, and the baby could swallow it. It may seem difficult or distasteful, but when bringing to a rehab faciility, it is critical to transport the babies (injured or not) still attached to the dead mother’s body. Lay her in the trunk on a towel or trash bag in a box with the lid on or box closed. We will remove the babies from her nipples and check for injuries.
  • Baby Alone in Yard
    If you see a baby opossum alone in the yard and it is less than nine inches long from nose to the end of its butt (not including the tail), it is probably an orphan or has been left behind.Sometime during the third month, as the babies get bigger, they ride along on Mom’s back and sides, hanging on to her fur as she walks around. Occasionally one of the babies will fall off unnoticed by mom. It is not old enough to fend for itself at this age and can be preyed on, may be unable to find enough food, or may become dehydrated. These babies will need rehabilitation before they are ready to go off on their own.
  • Older Baby in Yard
    A young opossum about nine inches long (not including the tail) has reached the independent stage and should be left alone unless it is showing signs of injury or illness.

For more information on found opossums, go to this site at Operation Wildlife, Opossums or call Lakeside Nature Center at (816) 513-8960.

Other Mammals in Need

Baby Mammals in Need.
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