Raccoon Babysitting

A couple of weeks ago, Steve and I babysat for some foster care raccoons while their foster parent was away for a week. All of the raccoons that we had looked after earlier this summer were in varying stages of depression, anxiety, and wildness. They had all come to WildCare a little older than the orphans we usually get, which meant they were already on the wild side. This is not a bad thing as it’s easier to keep them wild for release. But it means that we have very little interaction with them and can’t really let them out for a romp in our yard as they may not be easy to catch again.

Added to that this year, were the traumatic circumstances most of them came from, whether they were left alone for a week in the walls of San Quentin after their mother was removed or they watched another of god’s creatures take a shotgun to their mother in front of them. I believe animals have emotions and experience pain, and raccoons are very social critters. I’m just saying these earlier raccoons were a bit depressed.

But these guys were different. They were late summer babies, coming in when they were just a few days old in July. When Steve and I got them for a week, they were still getting 2 bottles a day. We are master weaners (well, I’m a master weaner, Steve’s just a wiener) and quickly got them onto solid food only. But, at this point, young as they were, they still saw us as caregivers. People often ask about keeping raccoon babies wild and the fact is, while they are being bottle-fed, they have to see us as a food source and not as a threat. We never snuggle with them or treat them like pets, but we have to be able to hold them at that stage. We start limiting our contact with them once they are fully weaned. Since we were just finishing their weaning, we were able to enjoy their company like we hadn’t been able to the rest of the summer.

And so they got to play in our yard, frolicking in the water fountain and learning to climb up and down trees (2 separate skills, there).

Here are some of the photos from the first weekend.