Mother Raccoon with Babies


10.03.2008 - Raccoons are excellent mothers.  They take great care of their babies.  When the babies are young, they stay in a nest while the mother raccoon goes and forages for extra food to make enough milk to feed them.  After about twelve weeks, the young have grown large enough that they start to follow the mother outside of the nest area (the nest is usually in a tree hollow or an attic) and outside, where they learn from her how to forage for food, and where are the best places to go.  They are weaned by 16 weeks. The young stay with her for some time, up to nine months, and finally go off on their own.  Although a female raccoon can give birth to up to eight pups (though four is average), by the nine months after birth, there's usually only two or so left.  She then finds a new mate.

In the above photo I've actually used a litter of pups as bait to catch the mother raccoon.  This is a very common tactic that I employ when I am getting raccoons out of an attic.  I usually can't get the mother right away, but I can find the nest of baby raccoons and then set them in a back of a trap.  The mother raccoon will always go in for them, and then I have them all, such as in this photograph.  I am then able to relocate them to the wild all at once.  I know that it must be hard on the raccoons to find themselves outside of their former warm, dry attic home, but the young stand the best chance of survival if they stay with their great mom.  If I give the young to a wildlife rehabber who raises them and releases them, they won't have learned essential survival skills.

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Do raccoons make good mothers? - Although there will normally be four to six raccoons in a territory for reasons of protection, Raccoons live a mostly solitary existence their entire lives with two exceptions. During mating in January or February, a female may stay briefly in a den with a male. In late April, early May, when a female has her babies or kits she stays in a family group with her offspring. A female raccoon spends a large amount of her pregnancy looking for the perfect place to nest. She will look to secret herself away in a cosy, hidden den to await the birth of her babies a week or so before she is due. After she gives birth to between one and six tiny, blind, hairless kits she will spend all her time attending to them. The female, or sow, has the duty of raising her young all on her own. This makes her very protective of her kits. For the first few weeks she will leave the nest only to feed and return frequently to nurse them. She will often patrol the area around her den looking for possible predators.

The Kits are totally helpless when they are born and will not even open their eyes till about five weeks of age. At six to eight weeks they can finally stand on their own. The mother raccoon will wean her young between three and four months of age. At this time she will begin taking them out with her to look for food. She can often be seen carrying a young kit in her mouth on the adventures. Even though the average lifespan of a raccoon is only two and one –half years, it takes about one year for the young raccoons to perfect their food gathering and survival skills. At this time their mother will start to let them wander off on their own, still keeping a watchful eye. By the time they are fourteen months of age, she will have left them alone completely. Female raccoons will become sexually mature around eleven months- about the time they leave. Males do not become sexually active until they are around two years of age.

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The raccoon (Procyon lotor), is a unique animal native to North America. It's not closely related to any other animals, with distant relatives such as bears and weasels. Coons are easy to recognize, with a black mask and ringed tail. Raccoons tend to weigh between 10-20 pounds as adults. They are mostly nocturnal, and are omnivores. Racoons average a lifespan of about 5 years in the wild, and have a litter of 3-6 young each spring. They are very strong, excellent climbers, very intelligent, and they are very skilled with their hands. Raccoons have learned to thrive in urban areas, and live in very high densities in cities, where they eat garbage and pet food. They commonly break into homes and attics, where they cause considerable damage, and they also destroy other property, and thus racoons are considered pest animals by many people. Raccoon control and removal, especially from inside homes, is best left to a professional.

Raccoons are round and furry animals that are cute but can be quite ferocious when approached! These animals can be found in areas where it can be extremely cold. Raccoons are nuisance animals that can survive in both the wild and urban spaces as well.

They're omnivorous creatures, that means they have a wide range of diet. These animals can grow up to 37 inches and can weigh about 10.4 kilograms. Though they're not social animals because of their nocturnal nature, mother raccoons have to overcome many obstacles to raise their babies.

Mother raccoons spend a lot of months feeding, protecting, caring, and teaching their babies to survive by themselves. Like all mothers, they will do everything to ensure their babies have the best life and protect their young at all costs.

Mating season

Raccoons mate once a year in spring where the male raccoon ventures out of his solitary lifestyle to mate with multiple females. A mother raccoon can give birth to 5 babies and will give birth in 65 days.

After mating, the male raccoon will abandon the female raccoon to go back to his solitary life without taking part in raising the children. It's up to the mother raccoon to look after them and find their new family a home

Finding a new home

A mother raccoon will always prioritize safety when finding a place to hide her babies. Mother raccoons usually move into a burrow that another animal has abandoned.

Some parts of man-made structures like attics, outhouses, barns, and basements are great spots to set up a nest for raccoons. A family of raccoons usually moves out after 7 weeks and looks for another place to stay to prevent predators from discovering them.

Keeping the babies safe

Choosing a secure place to nest is key in protecting the babies of the mother raccoon. Mother raccoons select an area where they can prevent any predators and fellow raccoons from attacking them.

A mother raccoon tends to be territorial and will not take kindly if different animals and other families of raccoons settle near her nest. When a mother raccoon looks for food, she usually hides her babies to protect them. If the baby raccoons become much stronger and agile, the mother raccoon will take them outside to find food and teach them to defend for themselves.

Protecting the babies

When it's mating season, male raccoons will fight with other males for them to mate with multiple females even though they don't participate in raising their children. Like any mother, mother raccoons will be aggressive and protect their babies when they're threatened. They defend their babies by any means if any animals stumble upon their nest.

Maturity of babies

Once the babies reach one year in age, they will leave their dens and live on their own. Female raccoons sexually mature quicker than male raccoons. However, male raccoons are more independent but will still live near their mother.

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