Finding a Baby Raccoon

This is information to assist those who find a baby raccoon, until a licensed rehabilitator is located.

At the bottom of this page you will find contact information for Michigan Wildlife Rehabilitators.

FIRST, be sure it is orphaned.

Please be sure to check around the area where the baby raccoon was found, as this orphan may have little brothers or sisters that need to be rescued as well.

Do Not Feed until you read this article thoroughly.

Signs of Being Orphaned:

  • There is a dead mother nearby, or a neighbor has been relocating raccoons.
  • Looks to you for help.
  • Ticks in ears; excessive fleas.
  • Feels bony under fur and underweight.
  • Eyes are small and sunken instead of big and bright.

If the baby appears healthy, realize that raccoon mothers routinely move their babies. If one is left behind or has fallen out of the tree den, she may not risk returning for it until after dark. You will not see her. At the location you found the baby, place it in a 15" or so box, or a kitty carrier with the door propped open with a stick. Place pop bottles filled with very warm water inside of socks, alongside the baby. They cannot regulate their own heat until much older. Your scent will not deter the mother, as they are very attached to their babies and will return for them if they are able. With a syringe, offer small amounts of warm water to which a small amount of sugar and salt have been added until it tastes good to you.

If the baby is still there in the morning, it is most likely orphaned, although you can try again a second night. In the meantime, keeping the baby warm, quiet, and hydrated is of utmost importance. Keep a heat source beside the baby, allowing it to move away if too warm. Heat lamps and hot water bottles are fine, but stay away from heating pads because they can get too hot, even on the low setting. Make a nest with an old sweater and a small stuffed animal.

Caring For a Baby Raccoon

To Hydrate: Give frequent small amounts of diluted Gatorade, Pedialyte, or a bland sugar/salt mixture in warm water (so that it tastes good to you). Do not give honey or real maple syrup because their digestive system is not developed enough to handle the bacteria content in these products.

Stimulate To Go To The Bathroom: At each feeding, brush a warm, wet tissue or cloth over the baby's genitals until they urinate and/or defecate.

Do Not Feed Until The Baby Is At Least 97 Degrees. Rectal thermometers are easily available and cost around $6.00. This should be accomplished within a few hours if the baby is lying on or beside a heat source and has been drinking warm liquid. Hypothermia is very common in starving, stressed babies, even if it is 85 degrees outside. If they are fed in this condition, it will most likely kill them.

Once warmed, gradually add tiny amounts of KMR, or another high-quality milk replacement, to the syringe or bottle (for feeding, use only a 0-3 mos. slow-lent human baby bottle, which costs around $1.59) after they have had a few feedings of electrolytes. Never overfeed! Frequent tiny feedings are better than a few too-large feedings. You may need to add a tiny bit of fake maple syrup to the KMR/electrolyte mixture so that it tastes better. Once the baby is used to a certain food, do not change it; you do not want diarrhea! Add a small amount of whole milk YoBaby yogurt (or something comparable) to the syringe of KMR once a day.

Revival Animal Health is a good source for wildlife care products, such as dewormers, formula, etc.

TheBaby Will Need To Be Fed At Least 4-5 Times Per Day. Baby raccoons can go up to 8 hours without a feeding, as long as they are fed and stimulated to go potty 4-5 times during the remaining 16 hours each day. I've taken them to work with me, parked my car in the shade, and had babies in a kitty carrier in a box with lots of bedding and hot water bottles, and fed them on breaks. Be sure they don't get overheated!

Bottle feeding lasts for up to a month after their eyes open (eyes open at 2-3 weeks). Once teeth start coming in (molars), start weaning. Offer the following foods at each bottle feeding so they begin to get the idea:

Scrambled eggs mixed with formula

Good-quality puppy food soaked in formula

Once weaned, the babies will be needing more room and can probably be moved outside if not too cold. Rabbit hutches and dog carriers are fine for now, but soon they will need to run around and climb, so a pen needs to be built.

Continue feeding them a good-quality puppy food, scrambled eggs with the shells for calcium, fruit, nuts, worms, bugs, fish, frogs, and mice. Put rotten logs in with the babies so that they can tear them apart and look for bugs to eat.

 

ABOUT RABIES IN RACCOONS IN MICHIGAN

According to Tom Cooley of the MDNRE Wildlife Disease Lab, rabies in raccoons is practically nonexistant, otherwise we would not be able to rehabilitate them. Although any mammal can contract rabies, and precautions should be taken, there have been far more cases of rabies in horses and cows than in Michigan raccoons.

 

ABOUT RACCOON ROUNDWORM

Any roundworm (not just raccoon roundworm) can migrate in the system of its host. Infection of raccoon roundworm in humans is extremely rare. Basic frequent handwashing and common sense around any wild animal or domestic pet goes a long way towards keeping parasites at bay.

 

Other Raccoon Contacts

If you find that rehabilitators cannot take in any more bottle fed babies, you can ask to work under their permit as a bottle feeder, and then give the babies to a rehabilitator once weaned. The rehabilitator just needs to request a form from Deb Christensen at MDNRE at (517) 373-2665.

Revival Animal Health is a good source for wildlife care products, such as dewormers, formula, etc.

 

You are going to be tempted to keep the baby forever, as there is no one sweeter than a baby raccoon. BUT, they do grow up. ALWAYS act with the best intentions for the animal and never consider keeping one for a pet, as it would be grossly unfair to the wonderfully spirited and intelligent raccoon!

Keeping this in mind, please click on this link So You Want A Pet Raccoon for additional information on this subject!

Other links to search are......

Michigan Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators

Michigan Wildlife Rehabilitators Association

Wildlife HELP

OTHER HELP, ACCORDING TO COUNTIES IN MICHIGAN, WHO MAY NOT BE LISTED ON THE ABOVE-MENTIONED WEBSITES:

Ann Arbor: Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society (313) 891-7188

Benzie County: Marilyn (231) 882-5225 *** Teresa (231) 492-8386

Detroit Area: David (586) 321-4723 *** Phyllis (734) 662-9186 *** DHK Animal Rescue (734) 439-7000 *** (313) 891-7188

Lansing Area: Dadustin (517) 256-1099 *** Renee (517) 651-2552 *** Kathy (517) 546-8103

Leelanau: Lacey (231) 218-2340 *** Trish (231) 334-6480

Manistee: Laurie (231) 398-9898 or (231) 723-4341 *** Carrie (231) 723-3170

 

If you have contacted a DNR office looking for help and were told to drown or otherwise destroy an animal,get the employee's name and office and report it immediately to Deb Christensen, Wildlife Law Enforcement (517) 373-2665.