What’s normal for baby raccoons?
Raccoons use a wide variety of den sites to have their babies, including hollow trees, attics, and spaces under decks. Babies normally remain inside the safe den area until they are around 8 weeks old. At this age they start to explore outside the den on nightly trips with their mother.
What does a raccoon den look like?
Your first step is to figure out whether the baby is actually in its den. Raccoon mothers sometimes have their babies in odd places!
Is the baby raccoon:
- In an area that is normally hidden from view (like in a rafter or under a deck)?
- Curled up in nesting material (like insulation, shredded paper, or old rags)?
If you answer yes to the above questions, you have likely found a baby left in its den while its mother is away. Try this simple test to see if the mother returns overnight: tape a piece of paper over the entrance hole to the den, or stuff the hole with crumpled paper. If you know the location of the den but not the entrance hole, or if the mother is entering the den through a wider space, you can instead lay a thin coat of flour on the ground around the den. Check the following morning to see if the paper in/over the hole as been disturbed, or if there are raccoon tracks leading to the den. If so, the mother has likely returned to the den overnight and is caring for her young. If not, you should get further advice from a rehabilitator.
What to do if the baby raccoon is outside its den
If you found the baby in an open area with no nesting material, it may be orphaned or just temporarily separated from its mother. Raccoon mothers sometimes move their babies between den sites, and a baby may be dropped during this process or accidentally left behind. Raccoons are excellent mothers and often come back for any missing babies.
If as far as you know the baby has been there for less than 24 hours, you should follow these steps to try to reunite it with its mother.
If the baby has been in an exposed area for one full night or more and the mother has definitely not returned, you should seek help for the baby.