What should I do if I find an orphaned or abandoned raccoon?
What Should I Do if I Find an Orphaned or Abandoned Raccoon?
The first thing to note is that the raccoon may not have been abandoned or orphaned. If its mother is still alive, the best thing to do is to try to reunite the two.
The baby raccoon may have wandered slightly from its nest while its mother was sleeping; after all, baby raccoons are more active during the day than adult raccoons. In that case, the mother will be nearby. She will be up looking for her baby soon after she awakes.
The mother raccoon could also be out foraging for food or looking for a new den. It isn’t uncommon for mother raccoons to leave their babies alone for short periods. In either case, the best thing you can do when coming across a lone baby raccoon is to take some steps to help it reunite with its mother.
Keep the raccoon warm. Wrap a warm water bottle in a towel, or microwave a clean sock filled with dry, uncooked rice for one minute. Place the heat source next to the raccoon.
Put the raccoon into a dry box it cannot escape from (but one that the mother can climb into to retrieve her baby). Make sure to wear thick gloves while handling the raccoon.
Note: You can also choose to place an upside-down laundry basket over the raccoon instead. If the mother raccoon finds it, she will have no problem flipping the basket over to fetch her baby.
If it is raining or the sun is beating down harshly, cover the box to protect the baby raccoon. Don’t forget to leave enough opening for the mother to be able to reach her baby.
Do not move the raccoon away from its original location. If it is in immediate danger (such as in the middle of the road), carry it to a safe place with thick gloves, but keep it as close as possible to its original spot.
Do not feed the baby raccoon. It needs highly specialized food and feeding it the wrong things could cause a lot of damage. Another reason not to feed the baby is that if it is hungry, it will cry, and its cries will alert its mother (assuming she is alive).
Avoid confrontations with the mother raccoon.
After you have done your best to ensure the baby raccoon is comfortable, depart, and wait overnight to see if the mother returns. Raccoons are nocturnal, so the mother will most likely come looking for her baby at night.
Note: If the raccoon is injured, cold, sick, has fly eggs (whitish- or yellowish-looking, the size of a grain of rice) or small insects on it, or has been crying nonstop for a few hours, it is safe to assume that it cannot be reunited with its mother. In that case, call your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Be sure to keep the baby in a warm, dark, and quiet place, and do not attempt to feed it or give it water.
If 24 hours have passed and the baby raccoon remains where you left it, it has probably been abandoned or orphaned. Mother raccoons will not let their baby out of sight for such a long period of time. In that case:
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator in your area.
Keep the baby raccoon safe in a dark, quiet place while waiting to hear back from the rehabilitator. Make sure the baby is warm.
Do not attempt to make the baby raccoon your new pet (no matter how cute it looks), or care for it by yourself. It needs the care of a wildlife rehabilitator in order to survive.
Rest assured that you have done your best!