Monday, June 10, 2013

A Baby Raccoon

It has been an exciting, anxious time here. We live in a suburban neighborhood on a busy road, but we have wooded areas around us enough for much wildlife to call home.

Yesterday morning it was bright and sunny. At around 9 a.m. or so, the smell of skunk made its way through the windows. Shortly after that we heard the shrieking sound of a raccoon. Bob went out to investigate. He saw a baby raccoon climb up the large maple tree in our yard. I came out a few minutes later to see the little guy hanging from a tree branch trying his best to get the rest of his body up onto it. He was up probably about 25 feet! I thought it was he who was screaming. Bob said that the sound was coming from near or under the papermaking studio deck. It was there that the skunk smell was strongest.

It was time to head to church, so I said a prayer for the baby raccoon. I didn't want to come home to find him lying on the ground with a broken neck. Back home a few hours later, all was quiet, though the smell still lingered. After lunch Bob went out to cut the grass. He saw the baby raccoon walking along one side of the fence that surrounds the vegetable garden. The raccoon found an area to nestle into and settled down there. I came outside, Bob pointed him out and I noticed that flies were all around him. Thinking he was either hurt or had rabies, I called animal control. My concern was that if he were to become another animal's prey, that they didn't contract rabies too. (We have coyotes, red foxes and hawks here.) The animal control officer came by, prodded him with her stick to see if he was injured and to evaluate his condition. He seemed alert and uninjured in her opinion. She said the flies were around more than likely because he urinated or defecated on himself. Her advice was to leave him there and hopefully his mother would come find him that evening and bring him home. She said that if he was still there after 24 hours, to call the office. They would try to locate an animal rescue shelter that had an opening. 

This morning I checked on him before heading out for the day. He was still there, curled up, awake and alert. He looked at me curiously. I had my camera with me and he posed beautifully!

Isn't he a cutie?
When I got home, it was raining and he was still there. He was trying to climb up the fence. He didn't like being in the rain, I'm guessing. I telephoned animal control again and this time had to leave a message. A few hours passed and I could hear him calling. I went outside. He was still there. He continued to call for a while. Back inside, I saw a young deer come out of the woods, walk up the old road, and when it got close to the raccoon, it stopped. I could see his ears moving, individually, in different directions, depending on where sounds were coming from. He was focused on the raccoon's call. He took a few steps, stopped and listened. The was looking off where the old road slopes down and is dense with trees, brush and brambles. I didn't understand why he was looking there, when the raccoon was on the opposite side. The deer gave up and headed towards the house. Concerned he might be interested in the hostas, I went out to the front porch. He saw me, turned and ran back into the woods he came from.  Again, I went to check on the baby raccoon. His calling had stopped. He was gone! Maybe he was calling and walking and did end up off the side of the old road where the deer had been looking. I'm glad he was smart enough to find some better shelter. The rain was getting heavy and it didn't look like his mother was going to be around.

What happened yesterday morning between the raccoon and skunk? This is Bob's theory: For many years woodchucks have made their home under my papermaking studio (it was a tool shed before that). He thinks that this year a raccoon moved in first and had her babies there. (A few weeks ago I was in the studio and I heard this loud, shrieky crying. Bob said it was probably baby woodchucks. I've never heard the sound a woodchuck makes, if it does make one, and now that I heard the baby raccoon, I believe it was/is a raccoon family living there.) Maybe last night the mother raccoon and her babies were out foraging and a skunk went to check out their home. Momma and babies came home and discovered the skunk there. (that story sounds a bit familiar!) Momma started shrieking, the skunk got frightened and sprayed. Did they physically fight? If so, could the skunk seriously or fatally damage the mother raccoon? I don't know enough about these animals, but I think a skunk is less dangerous than a raccoon.

That is the end of this story, at least for now. I do have another story, shorter, to tell you, but will do that in a new post. Experiencing this, I am reminded of the wonderful Thornton W. Burgess stories I used to read to my children. I know he saw these types of occurrences all the time and they were what made his stories so wonderfully interesting - you just knew they were based on first hand knowledge.


  1. I very much enjoyed reading your story! It made my day!

    1. thank you Julie! You know me, growing up in an urban suburb,I didn't have experiences like this. So it is fun!


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