Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are one of those animals that we love to hate. Native to most everywhere in North America, they are given the label of a “pest” by many. Whether they are digging up the garden or dumpster diving and leaving your yard a mess, raccoons are here to stay. But seeing a baby raccoon may quickly change your opinion about these animals as their cuteness is undeniable.
This year, we have had many baby raccoons brought to the Nature Center by island guests and residents. If a baby raccoon is found and the mother is nowhere in sight, one’s first instinct might be to take it in. However, a lone baby does not necessarily mean it’s an orphaned animal. With nocturnal animals, like raccoons, it is common for members of a litter to stray from the mother while she sleeps during the day. In fact, raccoons do not become nocturnal until they are approximately one year old.
If you find a lone kit, we recommend using gloves to place it in a close but protective area. If the mother is going to find her baby, she will do it within the next several hours. If the baby is still in the same area after several hours, call the nature center. We can assist in getting the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
While raccoons are animals that have a bad reputation, they do have a purpose and are here for a reason. Raccoons are highly intelligent, and the more we know about them, the easier it will be to co-exist. During our Night Beach Walk, Naturalists often spot raccoons traveling through the dune system which provide the perfect teachable moment to learn more about these curious creatures.