NEVER use bare hands when handling a baby raccoon. Keep all skin covered. Wear thick gardening gloves and wrap a t-shirt or pillow case around the baby. Maintain a barrier between your skin and the raccoon at all times. If you are bitten or scratched, call your local health department for further instructions.
NO FOOD OR WATER! People often think that feeding an orphaned baby will make it feel better, but doing so can actually endanger its life.
It is very important to give mother raccoons every opportunity to find and continue to care for their babies. If the raccoon seems healthy, it should be left out for at least 24 – 48 hours. It is possible that she is still around but has become temporarily separated from her baby.
IMPORTANT: If the baby is mobile, you can put an upside-down laundry basket over it with a rock on top to contain it. The rock should be light enough that mom could move it.
Making a reunite box: Using a medium-sized cardboard box (like a book box), cut air holes in the top third of the box. Then, cut a large circle, at least 8-inches in diameter, out of one of the sides in order to create an entrance, but leave some cardboard attached to make a flap, allowing the mother to reach in and get her babies.
Step 1: Prepare the reunite box
Use clean pillowcases or T-shirts to line the bottom of the box. (No towels please). On one side of the box place 3 – 4 chemical hand warmers underneath the T-shirts/pillowcase so as not to burn the babies. You can also use a non auto-shutoff heating pad on low under half the box.
Step 2: Place the baby(ies) in the box using thick gardening gloves
Once the baby (or babies) is in the box, tape the top of the box closed. The mother can get to her baby through the large, circular hole on the side of the box. Do not put the box directly in contact with the ground. Use blankets or towels under the box to act as insulation.
Step 3: Leave the container in the area where the baby was found
If you have seen the mother, place the box along her route where you think she would encounter it. Otherwise, put the box as close as possible to where the baby was found, as the mother will be most likely to look for it nearby. Place the box outside at night, it’s important that you play a sound loop of a baby raccoon crying to attract the mother. Click here to play sound.
What if it rains or snows? In heavier rain or snow, try placing a plastic bin or umbrella on its side and tucking the box inside for shelter. In the case of stormy weather, keep the baby in the box and bring it inside until the weather clears; mom won’t be looking for it in the middle of a storm. As soon as the weather clears, put the baby back out where it was found.
Step 4: Check to see if the mother has retrieved the baby
Baby raccoons should be left out for 1 -2 nights, from dusk until dawn, even if found during the day. Mother raccoons are most likely to retrieve their babies when it’s dark, and there are fewer people around. Stay far away from the box so that you do not scare the mother. Check the box in the morning to see if the mother has retrieved the babies. It may take the mother as long as 48 hours to retrieve all of her babies.
If the baby has been out for 2 full nights and the mother has not retrieved it, contact Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for further instructions (303) 823-8455. Keep the baby in a securely closed container with air holes and continue to offer a heat source.
Watch a mother raccoon retrieve her young from a reunite box during the night:
*NOTE:This was filmed remotely. No humans should be in the area during the attempted reunite, so the mother has time to retrieve her babies
Transporting to Greenwood
- Make sure that the box containing the animal is secure on the seat or floor of your car.
- Keep the car warm and quiet (no radio, minimal talking) while you travel. Avoid sudden stops and sharp turns.
- NEVER let anyone, especially a child, hold the animal on his or her lap during the trip.
- Leave the animal contained in your car while you let the front desk know that you have arrived with the raccoon. Our licensed rehabilitators will retrieve the animal and bring it through the back of the building.
It is very important to think first about what the injured animal needs and the fact that contact with people is stressful for the animal. Once the animal arrives at a rehabilitation center, it will be treated by experienced staff and volunteers who will ensure that it receives the best care possible.