New England Wildlife Center
Preserving New England's Wild Legacy
Raccoons

Raccoons embody the spirit and goals of the Center.  They are a “can-do” species that learns about the world through their hands-on touching.  This is exactly the educational philosophy of the Center: Hands-on learning.

The Center has treated over 1500 raccoons in its history, about 65 animals in a year.  Many of these we have raised from babies when they are separated from their mothers.  Separation is often because humans hurt, injure or destroy the family by doing yard work and springtime house repairs. Cars and drivers are another common separator.

Raccoons are a native wild animal.  That means they are one of the original inhabitants of North America-true citizens of the Northeastern woodlands. They were here and successful during the time when the Wompanoags were the principle inhabitants of the area.  By contrast today they are just as successful in our urban and suburban habitats. Can-do, where ever, whenever.

The Wompanoags, and other Algonquin speaking cultures that lived in this area knew and interacted with the raccoons.  In fact the Algonquin word for raccoon is “Araquon” which means ‘little washer bear’.

In the Algonquin belief system the raccoon spirit is the soul of the Center. They would refer to it as the Center’s ‘totem’.   This is the animal that best represents the spirit and characteristics of a person or of a social group.  The Center’s totem is the raccoon.

We help raccoons.  Raccoons help us.

 

 

29 Comments to “Raccoons”

  1. Jenn says:

    Just stumbled upon your site – I’m a property manager for Condominium in Worcester, MA that has an abandoned pool house that has become the home to a momma raccoon & some babies. I was able to set up a ladder and look around the loft area today & and confirmed they are taking up shelter up there (old & fresh droppings, chew marks, etc.) and also found what looked to be clean bedding in the duct work / they got open a vent and have clean access to it from adjacent trees.

    Myself and several owners at this complex do not want to see them harmed – but as the manager of the property, I’m tasked with “removing the problem”. Looking for help/insight on how to get these beauties out safely so we can board up the openings. Based on the description from the residents, the little ones may now be mobile. Any help is appreciated!!

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Jenn, Animal Rescue League is a great resource for you to go to, they are our sister organization and they specialize in going and picking up wild animals that are injured or in danger. We get a lot of our admits at our wildlife center from them. Animal Control is also an organization you could turn to for this kind of issue.

  2. Tami-Jo says:

    We reached out to someone in Mass who has 5 babie raccoons and was turned away all three refuges in Mass. What is she support to do with these guys No one will help. She has offered to bring them to anyone willing help. Any ideas where to go next?

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Tami-Jo, This is a really difficult problem, especially for people like you and your friend, and for an organization that loves raccoons as much as we do. We are only allowed by law to take raccoons from Norfolk County. We can only accept 20 at a time because of the number of diseases that these little guys carry – some deadly to humans. Many deadly to the other raccoons. We need to care for the raccoons we have and keep them as safe as possible. For example, one raccoon with distemper can wipe out the whole population because it is so contagious. Protocols are extremely strict. This year we actually doubled that number because there is just no where else they can go, until we could find other rehabbers that could help. Everyone is full. It is a huge year for orphaned raccoons. This is a community problem. The state of MA doesn’t pay for care of wildlife. It is left to caring back yard rehabbers and a hand full of nonprofits in the state to offer humane care. It is also against the law for us to have too many animals. We are heavily regulated by the state but receive no funding from the state for wildlife care. I wish I had a better answer for you. We estimate that there are over one billion wild animals that need care each year in our state, We can care for but a fraction. I promise that we are doing everything we can. But, we can’t do it alone and without financial support. Most of the folks who work for us are volunteers. You can call our front desk and get referrals of other groups. There is also a list of rehabbers on this site but I know that everyone is full. As soon as some of our baby raccoons are released we will be able to take more. If you would like to talk with me, I can be reached at 781 682 4878 x122.

    • larissa says:

      Hi tammy jo. Please email me at larissajustin10@gmail.com. I am in Maine and may know of some help.

  3. Lisa says:

    We have Raccoons living in a vacant home. They come out during the day. Board of Health has been notified. Is there anyway they can remove them without putting them to sleep?

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Lisa, if you call Animal Control or the Animal Rescue League of Boston they should be able to remove the raccoons and take them to an appropriate wildlife rescue service based on the location.

  4. Susan says:

    Hello. My daughters friend found a baby raccoon in his yard in Arlington Mass. They took it in and have been feeding it with a bottle. I found your info on Google and would love some advice as to what they should do!!! It is so gorgeous and innocent. Please help!

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Susan, it is very important to bring the raccoon to a rehabilitator as soon as possible. Raccoons can carry multiple zoonotic diseases, meaning diseases that can be transmitted between species and to humans. Two of the more worrying ones are rabies and baylisascaris. Rabies I am sure you know about, and baylisascaris is a parasite that is relatively harmless to raccoons but if transmitted to humans is very often fatal. Also, it is illegal for someone who is not liscensed by the Massachusetts government to raise orphaned wildlife within the state.

      Unfortunately we are unable to take more baby raccoons at this time, but I can suggest the Cape Wildlife Center or the Tufts Wildlife Clinic as two places your daughter’s friend could potentially bring the raccoon. Good luck, and feel free to post any other questions you might have.

  5. Karina Nalbandayn says:

    I live in Jax Fl.Found a Raccoon in my driveway it looked hurt cus it was kinda rolling on the ground and crying when I tryed coming up to it the raccoon tryed running away from me but he kept falling down. I didn’t see any blood or obvious injuries. It wasn’t aggressive at all but looked like something was really hurting it he just couldn’t laydown and stay steel. It was so sad I was crying cus I couldn’t help it. I called like 4places but no one would help. Finally I just had to go inside my house after seeing it suffer for 2 hours and crying my eyes out.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Karina, I am so sorry that happened to both you and the raccoon. I think I read it correctly that you live in Jacksonville Florida? What a kind and caring heart you have. I hope you feel better now and I hope the raccoon is ok. You did the best you could Karina.

  6. lisa says:

    Hi. I’m wondering if you could help me. I’m in Utah and rehabilitated two baby raccoon’s. A vet told me it wouldn’t be hard to get a permit, she would help me, now they are spayed and neutered and can’t be returned to the wild definitely. Anyway, I was turned down for an occupancy permit, and need to submit an outline for an educational permit, which I am at a loss for. I have someone who offered to help me make a blog, but I just don’t want them killed and I’ve put so much money into them. If you have any advice, I’d be much appreciative. I haven’t the first idea on how to convince someone that I can educate people. But the outline needs to include:
    How are the live animals essential to your program?
    In what ways will the animals be used?
    How will the public benefit from the program?
    How frequently will the animals be used in the program?
    How will you convince the public that keeping a raccoon in captivity is illegal and a bad idea?
    Please let me know if you have any idea or names of anyone willing and able to help me. They are outside in a large pen, we are county and have 13 wooded acres. They can’t roam free because of dogs and neighbors down the road. Any help would be wonderful.

  7. Anne Golbin says:

    I am confused as I heard from a friend who called about needing help with baby raccoons and the person answering your phones referred them to a number that turned out to be an exterminator. What’s your real standing on young raccoon rehabbing?

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hello Anne, New England Wildlife Center’s hospital does take sick, injured and orphaned raccoons. When they are successfully treated they are returned to the wild. That is the information your friend should have received. I don’t know the circumstances but I have inquired at our front desk. In the meantime, if your friend would like to call me directly, I would be more than happy to talk to him/her directly to clarify any confusion. My number is 781 682 4878 x122 and I am the executive director, Katrina Bergman. I do know that if your friend was calling because she had racoons trapped in her chimney or issues related to her home, she may have been referred to a humane animal removal service. The person we refer to does not hurt animals and is a pac agent for masswildlife. We follow the law in all cases. Please contact me by phone if you would like to talk further. Have a good day. Katrina Bergman

  8. claudia says:

    Just here chuckling after reading all the raccoon mail above. What a great showing at NIGHT OF A THOUSAND FACES last night. One more night to go, um maybe you oughta make it for a couple weekends, not just one weekend, Jimminy!- what a lot of folks.
    Not a long wait but sure different from the old days, eh?!
    Looks like papa can put food on the table for one more month.
    Peace upon you critter lovers.
    PS- came home to find a screech owl by the glass a little daised. Whap, right into the window i guess. held him for a while , got good pictures, then let him fly away. what a thrill.
    Love
    CLaudia of Hull

  9. Herculano Fecteau says:

    Just had new tenants move into the top apartment Tonight one of my new tenants called down to me to let me know that some young raccoons were peeking out of a crawl space their momma just created over the last day or two above the third floor porch. When I went upstairs there their little heads were, peering out of an opening that I don’t even think was there yesterday. There’s a square access hole to my roof, with vertical boards all around the perimeter — at least till today. Looks like Mom pulled off a few of the boards and opened up the space to create a little coondominium.

    Couldn’t find any of the boards discarded on the porch, and it was starting to get dark, so I got a flashlight and headed to the back of the house to see if she’d thrown them into the back yard. Heard a rustling in a huge tree just next door, and shined my light on a big momma who was climbing it. The branches extend all the way to the top of my roof, so that must be how she moved the family up there.

    City of Boston Animal Control was totally useless — told me to find a trapper on the Yellow Pages or on the internet (this is what they pay people to do at a 24-hour “hotline”?). I found something called Commonwealth Wildlife Control, who put me in touch with a guy who traps wild animals. Naturally he doesn’t work on Labor Day weekend, so he’s coming to set a trap Tuesday morning.

    They generally trap only one at a time, and so far as we know there’s at least Mom and three kids, so it’s probably going to take all week.

    There’s no way I can leave them in the crawl space above my tenants’ porch, and if the trapper is going to be likely collecting them one at a time, I’m concerned about the family getting separated. Is there any way the animals can be delivered to a wildlife rehabilitation site one by one until the entire family is reunited, and then released?

    Can you give me any leads on this? I know that once I rescued a baby squirrel that had lost its mom, and someone from Animal Rescue League put me in touch with a very nice lady and experienced rehabilitator who had me bring the little guy up to her in Burlington, MA. I also rescued a little starling once, who’d been pushed off a building by a couple of pigeons, and I believe it was your facility I brought it to for care (there was a little crippled crow living in the place I brought it too — ring a bell?).

    • Herculano Fecteau says:

      By the way, my phone number is 617-959-7989, and I am the owner-occupier of the three-family home in Mission Hill where these raccoons have decided to take up residence. I would appreciate hearing from someone by Monday evening, with the best advice which will ensure that none of these animals are harmed and that the babies aren’t separated from their mom and each other. I love raccoons, and I love to see them around my house — I just can’t have them moving in, especially to my new tenants’ living space. If there were just a way to get them out of the crawl space, and then closing it up again, so that they could stay in the neighborhood, that might work.

      Thank you.

      • Katrina Bergman says:

        Hi Herculano, We will give you a call tomorrow to try to help you find a good solution for the raccoons and the tenants. :)

  10. dgh says:

    Hello,
    I feed, neuter and house stray cats. I also have chickens. I have had 4 raccoons eating the cat food on my porch and scaring away the strays.I am concerned that the cats will venture into areas which are hunting grounds of fishers and coyotes having been driven away by the raccoons. Not to mention, racoons eat a lot of cat food.
    At what time of year would it be safe to humanely trap and relocate the racoons? I do not want to remove them while they may have dependent young. I live in southern New England.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi dgh, That is a tough dilema. Trying to balance between animal needs can be really tough. It is illegal to move wildlife in the state of Massachusetts at anytime. Our advise is to stop feeding the cats for a bit and the raccoons will look for another spot. The raccoons are just doing what instinct is telling them to, and there is free and delicious cat food. They have done well because of their ability to adapt. As you know, they are native and they were here first. :)

  11. Taylor says:

    We found three baby raccoons in our attic. The mother is no where to be found. Can you recommend who can take them? We’ve called everywhere.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Taylor, Give it 24 hours because mom may well come back yet. If mom doesn’t come back, we can take Raccoons from Plymouth and Norfolk Counties. You can see if Animal Rescue League or your animal control officer can get them to us if they are truly orphaned. Very best of luck. Wish I had a quick answer for you. Please let us know how you make out. :)

      • Taylor says:

        Hi Katrina,

        Thank you so much for writing. The mother cannot come back as they were found in an attic and the attic’s hole has since been repaired. Therefore, it’s extremely unlikely that the mother can come back.

        Meanwhile, there are three baby raccoons approximatley 3 – 4 weeks old sitting in a large box that have not been food and have not had any food or drink for at least two – three days. It’s a shame that no organization in the state of Mass can offer any assistance on a Sunday afternoon for these babies that are obviously dehydrated and are in distress. We called our vet today and she said she could not assist in any way because they do not have a license in Mass to rescue or give us any information pertaining to wildlife. We attempted to contact 10 different individuals or organizations today, none of whom have responded. You are the only one that has and I am grateful for that. Thank you.

        It would be a shame if these baby raccoons won’t make it through the night. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate it. I’m not sure we can even feed them as I don’t know what they need.

        I am in Essex county, have called our pest contro/dog officer…they are not open, but will contact us in the morning.

        Keep your fingers crossed that the babies will be okay. Again, thanks for your response

        • Katrina Bergman says:

          Hi Taylor, What a hero you are for these little guys. What if you try placing the box outside to see if mom will come back for them. Being with mom is the very, very best thing for them. Getting help is so frustrating, I couldn’t agree with you more. Please know that all veterinarians are allowed by law to provide emergency assistance to wildlife. They do not need a permit for 24 hours. They can give fluids, etc and then try to contact a wildlife rehabber. Unfortunately, in the state of Massachusetts there is no funding or state agency for “ordinary” sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in need of medical care. Our organization was formed by 4 people and all the work we do is funded by people like you who care. Many times, people are furious by the time they get to us because they have tried so many places. We can treat up to 2,000 wildlife and there are a billion or more a year that need care. I wish I could be of more service for you and those babies. Make sure to check the list of wildlife caregivers licensed by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. very good luck, Katrina

  12. Sarah O'Connell says:

    Still very thankful that New England Wildlife was able to admit 5 adorable baby raccoons that were orphaned in our boat last Spring (2010) after their mom passed away (also in our boat). When it appeared like all hope was gone and that “exterminators” were the only answer, we found New England Wildlife who accepted them, got them healthy and released them back into the wild to live the life they were meant to. Forever grateful!

  13. Paul Spinney says:

    We need to report 4 baby raccoons taking refuge in a storm drain in front of our house. They came out at dusk last night and ventured just a few yards into our driveway/stone wall area. They appear healthy and had no fear of my husband taking pictures. In fact, they easily would have approached him and were chattering away to each other. He left them alone but checked at 11:00 last night and they were back in the storm drain. It is a tight squeeze for them to get through the vent so it seems evident the Mother is not with them. It is a busy neighborhood street with houses close together and lots of small children and we are very concerned
    We want to do the right thing and hope you can help us.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Paul, It sounds like the babies are doing well, which means mom is nearby, you probably just can’t see her. They will move on, there is really nothing you can do. It is not legal to move wildlife in the state of Massachusetts- even when it seems like the environment is dangerous. Unless one of them is injured or looks sick, I would just enjoy seeing them. They are amazing animals. We will be connecting a live camera within the next week or so that will show raccoon orphans being raised in our hospital. Hope that helps. Please also read “what to do if you find a wild animal” on this website for help. You can visit the Center 7 days a week from 10-2. Best, Katrina

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