Raccoons are familiar animals with masked faces and ringed tails. They have five toes on both the front and hind feet. Their long, dexterous fingers enable them to open latches, untie knots, turn doorknobs, and open jars. Their prints look like tiny human baby handprints and footprints.
- They are primarily nocturnal and thrive in many cities as well as wilderness areas. In fact, the densest population of raccoons in New York is in New York City. They are very intelligent and adaptable animals.
- They are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including frogs, fish, amphibians, shellfish, insects, birds, eggs, mice, carrion, berries, nuts, vegetation, salamanders, insects, berries, corn, cat food, and human garbage.
- Their tracks are commonly found near water. Where you find water, you find mud, which is an excellent medium for studying tracks.
- It is widely believed the hind feet sink deeper into the mud due to the heavier hind end of the raccoon’s body. It is widely believed that raccoons always “wash” their food. This is not true. They exhibit a behavior called “dabbling” in which they dunk their food in water. This helps enhance their sense of touch and helps them find food underwater by feeling with their sensitive fingers. It also enables them to sort out items that are not edible.
- During cold weather, raccoons will sleep for several days, but do not hibernate.
If the baby raccoon has been seen alone for more than a few hours, he’s probably been orphaned. Mother raccoons closely supervise their young and don’t let them out of their sight. If the baby raccoon is safe from dogs and other predators, you can put an upside-down laundry basket over the baby (with a weight on top) and monitor him for a few hours. The mother will not return if people or pets are nearby, so stay clear and keep pets away, giving the mother a chance to reclaim her baby. If the baby is cool or cold, it should be warmed before placing out for reclaiming. Place a hot water bottle under the towel the baby is resting on. Humans handling the baby will not make the mother reject it.
If the mother does not return in a few hours, contact Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release, 530-432-5522. Injured baby raccoons should be brought in immediately.
Injured Adult Raccoon
Do not touch an injured adult raccoon! Contact your Animal Control or WRR immediately! or 530-432-5522.
Most injured animals will fight even harder because they are scared. Mammals such as foxes, skunks, bats, coyotes and others are called vector species. They means they have the potential to carry rabies. If you have no other choice, here is what you need to handle an injured animal – if you are certain that the animal was injured versus being sick:
- Very thick gloves
- A pet carrier or a container with lid and air holes
- Remember – safety first!
- Mammals such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, coyotes and others are called vector species. This means they have the potential to carry rabies.
Throw a blanket over the animal to keep it calm. Wrap it up with the blanket while wearing gloves. Put it in the container and close it tightly. Call Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release 530-432-5522. A volunteer will take it immediately to a veterinarian. Do not try and care for this animal yourself, it needs immediate attention from a licensed veterinarian and wildlife rehabilitator.
To avoid problems with raccoons:
Do not feed pets outdoors. If you must feed outdoors, clear away food bowls immediately. Do not leave food out at night.