I went over to my parent’s for dinner tonight and after I pulled over to the curb just past their house, I noticed another car pulling over just before their house. As I gathered my stuff, I watched a man get out of his SUV and start to walk up my parent’s lawn. Only he was walking slightly bent over and wasn’t heading toward the door. I adjusted the angle of my rear view mirror and saw that he was walking toward a small animal.
At first I thought the animal was a rat…YUCK and bad trouble…but decided it was just a smidge too big, so I thought it might be a young opossum. But then it flicked it’s tail and I realized it was a baby raccoon! I grabbed my camera and joined the man and took the picture below. This made the youngster look at me, so I spoke to him and he started walking toward me. I decided this wasn’t good…didn’t want his mom to smell human on him…so I backed away. This seemed to upset the raccoon and it backed away from me. It was strange, the little guy was waddling around on it’s little legs and was shaking, but didn’t seem afraid of us. It was as if it knew it was lost, it knew it needed help, and it thought we were the help. The raccoon then walked toward the man and when he also backed away, it decided to hide in the bushes. I felt so bad! It was just adorable and I bet it was soft and cuddly, but it might have scratched us, bit us, or have been carrying a disease. (Considering it’s body, not counting the tail, was only 5 to 6 inches long, we did have the size advantage, so it is sort of funny that we backed away.)
We did want to help, so I called the police department’s animal control division and they said it was most likely one of two things:
- A rambunctious youngster that had wondered out of his nest for the first time and was lost.
- A sickly baby who’s mother had tossed it out of the nest.
They said they’d come out to check. If they decided it was number 1 above, they would catch the raccoon and put it in an open crate. This way the little dude was protected from the elements, but if its mother came looking, she could knock over the crate and take her offspring home. If it was number 2 above, they would immediately take the raccoon to an animal shelter.
By this time, the raccoon was in the bushes, lying on it’s side and not moving. The man, who’s name I never learned, thought it was dieing. I think it was taking a nap. When animal control arrived and started poking in the bushes with a loop on a pole, the little guy woke up and started squawking. He was not happy! Once she caught him and pulled him out of the bushes he was clearly healthy and ticked at being caught.
She put him in a plastic crate and turned it on it’s tall end with a towel covering the opening at the top. This would protect it some, but would also allow the mother to rescue it if she came looking. The animal control gal put the crate up against the house, but behind some bushes where it could stay dry and not attract the attention of people walking by. She’s coming back tomorrow morning to check on it. If it’s still there, she’ll take it to an animal rescue shelter where they will nurture it. I hope the mom finds it.
If it wasn’t so late, I’d tell you about the raccoon that had babies in my parent’s fireplace chimney. And about the baby opossum that got into my house once. But they’ll have to wait for another day.
(I only took the two pictures above because I didn’t want to scare it any further than it already was. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing in either picture to compare its size against. He was small and adorable. Click on the image to go to Zooomr, then click on "All Sizes" for a better view.)
UPDATE on June 28, 2007: My father went outside around 7:15 this morning and the crate was no longer standing on in, but was lying on its side. Unfortunately, the open side was a way from Dad and he didn’t want to crawl into the bush to check. He watched for the animal control woman to come back, but she came and went so fast that he missed her. So…we don’t really know what happened. We hope the mother found the baby and took him home. I’d like to think that he’s safely home now, but grounded for a week!