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Much like baby squirrels, but probably more so, once the mother begins to wean them at about six weeks of age, they will sometimes wander away from her in their ongoing quest for adventure and because they are so curious by nature. It is  not uncommon at that age for them to be wandering about and lagging behind, while she may be just a few feet away from them.


All raccoons are extremely intelligent and mothers are highly protective of their kits.  They like to keep their kits together and under their watchful eyes.  It becomes a little difficult for her to do as they age and begin to assert themselves and their curiosity gets the better of them.


If you find a single young raccoon alone, he may be orphaned and he may just have be  temporarily separated from the group. If you find a young, eyes closed single raccoon kit or a group of them, they may have fallen from a tree nest, or a roof or wandered out of a ground den.  It’s also possible you have discovered them just as the mom is moving them all to a new nesting area. Before you make any assumptions as to whether they are orphaned or not, check things out first.


If the babies appear healthy, you should always give the mother a chance to reclaim them.  If they are unable to climb, look for signs of a den nearby in trees or rooftops.  Ask your neighbours if they have seen any adults out and about in the area. 


Place them in a box near where you found them, away from people and pets.  If the babies are young, supplemental heat will have to be added to the box.  Fill empty bottles with hot water and wrap them really well in a towel to prevent the babies from coming into contact with them and place them in the bottom of the box, then cover that with layers of bedding.  If at all possible, you can place a heating pad under one end of the box, set on low, and plug that in.  (Do not do this if the ground is wet and you must leave an extension cord laying on the ground, that's unwise.) 


It’s important to keep them warm and to prevent them from falling out of the box while you give the mom a chance to round them up.  If a mother is in the process of moving her babies because she may have been ‘discovered’ in someone’s chimney or fireplace, and sensing danger, decides to move them, it can take her up to 3-4 days to do so.  They are extremely dedicated to their young and if they are alive, they will make every attempt they can to reclaim them. 


Observe what's going on from a distance.  Remember, she won't claim them if she senses there is any danger nearby.  If a single baby has remained for 24-48 hrs and hasn't been moved by the mother, you may need to intervene.  Call an authorized wildlife rehabilitator for assistance and advice.


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Last modified: 09/23/16 08:17 PM