Found Baby Raccoons
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.
Should I feed a baby raccoon until I get it to a rehabilitation center? No.
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 Babies Outside
Babies 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- See our critter eviction page for information on removing the animals safely.
- Pet Killed Mother
Bring babies in or contact the 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 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.
If you have questions, please contact the center at (816) 513-8960