What to do If You Find a Raccoon

First and foremost, always call your local wildlife rehabilitation specialist! They are trained professionals who know how to best increase the chance of the animal's survival. 

Raccoon Rescue of the Valleys can be reached by calling (540)-206-9404

Is the animal you found not a raccoon? Look at the Wildlife Hotline for more tips on different wildlife! 

What to do When You Find a Baby Raccoon That Needs Help

Raccoons care for litters during the spring and summer seasons, and baby raccoons depend on their mother for nearly a year. This makes it very difficult for the young raccoon if it is separated from its mother prematurely. Babies are usually separated from their mothers because the den is disturbed or destroyed, the mother has been trapped or killed, or the mother was moving her cubs and lost one, among other separation scenarios.

If you have found a baby raccoon the size of a kitten, you should take special precautions in order to help it. Of course, always contact your local rehabilitation specialist so that a trained professional can take care of the animal as soon as possible. If the baby is in immediate need of help, put a pair of gloves on before touching or handling the baby, and use a towel to pick it up. Find a box and puncture it with holes, and place the baby inside. Set the box half way on a heating pad (set the heat to low) in a dark, quiet place away from distractions. 

Under no circumstances should you feed or water a baby raccoon! It seems logical to try to provide these, but it might cause more harm than good. Lost babies have likely been separated from their mothers for a long period of time before people find them, which means they are severely dehydrated. Their dehydrated little body is simply unable to digest food (i.e. the milk solids in formula), and if given formula or other food before they are rehydrated, it can kill them. You should always let a rehabilitation specialist take over as soon as possible to ensure the baby survives.

For more information and in-depth process of caring for baby raccoons and other animals, please visit this link to more wildlife care.

What to do When You Find an Adult Raccoon That Needs Help

If the raccoon is a juvenile or adult please do not handle until you speak with a rehabilitator. Please do not give wildlife any food or water because you can harm them! Your local animal control officer or the police should be contacted if the raccoon is showing behavior that seems abnormal, such as disorientation as if drunk, circling, partial paralysis, screeching, unprovoked aggression, or even unnatural tameness. In either case, you should always leave the animal alone, and keep children and pets a safe distance away from it.

If a local rehabilitation facility does not return your call immediately and it is an emergency, go to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website to search for a licensed rehabilitator. You can also visit this website for more information


Why a Wild Animal Is NOT a pet

Even if you find a lost baby or an injured animal, it does not mean you should adopt it as a new pet! 

  1. Laws are in place to prevent private ownership of wild animals. Wildlife rehabilitation centers such as Raccoon Rescue of the Valleys are licensed professionals, trained to keep wild animals for the purpose of rehabilitating and releasing them back into their natural habitat.
  2. Wild animals can carry diseases that humans or their pets can contract. Conversely, your pets or domesticated animals can possibly give wildlife harmful diseases as well.
  3. Veterinarians may not always have experience necessary for treating wild animals. Wildlife rehabilitators are specifically trained to administer medications, attend to injuries, remove harmful parasites, and provide other important care, all while preserving the animal's wildness. Any animal who is tamed or domesticated cannot successfully be released back into the wild.

When a person takes in a wild animal and raises it with good intentions it becomes a death sentence for the raccoon. Why is this? First of all it is illegal in most states to raise wildlife. They have to learn what to eat in the wild and learn to be afraid of humans. Not all humans are nice. Also these animals belong to the state you live in.

Wildlife rehabilitators in Virginia cannot take in raccoons that have been raised  by humans. We are bound by the rules for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

It always is in the best interest of the wild animal to seek help from a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible!