What to do when you find a baby raccoon

raccoon kitRaccoons in Ontario will start having their kits (babies) around the middle of March each year. They have adapted well to urban areas, so they will often invade our spaces (homes, barns, sheds) to create a den site.

At Hobbitstee we get literally several 1000 calls annually about orphaned baby raccoons. The reality is that many of these raccoon kits aren’t orphaned at all. People forget that mother raccoons also have to eat and to do this they must go out and leave their kits. As the kits get older the mother will leave them for extended periods of time and sometimes the kits wake up and they will cry for their mother.

If you suspect you have orphaned raccoon kits on your property you should observe from a distance to see if she comes and feed them. You need to observe for at least one whole night before you can assume they are orphaned.

When you do feel there are actually truly orphaned you can go and look at them. It is easy to recognize a hungry raccoon kit. Another sign there is no mother caring for them is the excessive presence of external parasites such flees and ticks.

If you are certain the kits are orphaned (ideally you located the deceased mother) than you can put the raccoon kits in a secure box lined with some towels. Put the box in a warm, dry and dark spot while you call your local wildlife rehabilitator.

To locate your local one please visit the following link: http://www.ontariowildlifecustodians.ca/AWCmap.php

Make sure to always wear gloves when handling raccoon kits. They can potentially carry diseases harmful to humans. Keep them away from your pets as they can also be at risk.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) gives you a 24 hour window to locate a wildlife custodian to take the kits. If you are unable to do so, many Animal Controls, SPCA, Humane Societies will assist as well (but they don’t have to, so you can’t make them). Don’t assume the above-mentioned agencies will automatically euthanize the kits. We have a great working relationship with many of these agencies and they bring us wildlife on a regular basis.

Your veterinarian might be able to assist you over the phone and point you towards your local wildlife rehabilitator, but due to a high prevalence of canine distemper in raccoons (lethal to non-vaccinated dogs/puppies) a vet will likely not allow you to bring the kits to a clinic and that is understandable.

Also understand that as wildlife rehabilitators we can only manage to raise a finite number of raccoon kits. Full is full. We cannot compromise our standard of care for the sake of numbers. It becomes a quality versus quantity issue. That is why it is so important to make absolutely sure the kits you found are truly orphaned.

As wildlife rehabilitators we are under distance restriction as outlined by the MNRF rules and regulations pertaining to the care of Rabies Vector Species (raccoons fall under this category), so please make sure you contact your local wildlife rehabilitator.

Eventually all injured and orphaned wildlife does end up with a wildlife rehabilitator, so if you are able you might want to consider making a donation towards the care of the animal you send them. All wildlife rehabilitators are non-for-profit and many have charitable status, so you might be able to get a tax receipt in return.

Never, ever under any circumstances feed the kits. Food is not at the top of their list of immediate requirements. Do not feed them cows milk, goats milk, or whatever else you think they might eat. Feeding wildlife orphans the wrong food at the wrong time can be lethal and once they have ingested it we cannot take it out.

Each situation calls for a different approach and there is no one-size fits all solution. That is why the Internet DIY websites are such a bad thing.

You may also not keep the raccoon kits to raise yourself. This would be a violation of the FWCA. In Ontario Conservation Officers are charged with the enforcement of this act, but our OPP can also enforce the FWCA.

IMG_0061Aside from the breaking of the law, it really is not in the best interest of the animals to be raised by you in your home. Wildlife Rehabilitation is a skilled profession.

In doing so you would be putting your own health and potentially your family or pets health at risk. There are several diseases and parasites raccoons can carry that can be lethal to humans.

If you have questions feel free to send us an email: chantal@hobbitstee.com

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