Each spring, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is overrun with young raccoons. Unfortunately, many of those raccoon babies, known as kits, weren’t actually orphans—at least not until people got involved.
In one season, Aspen Valley can take in as many as 200 raccoon kits. Some have been orphaned because a homeowner has trapped and removed a nursing mom, not realizing she had babies.
Encouraging raccoons to move on their own is a much more humane way of handling these unwanted houseguests, say Aspen Valley staff.
Raccoon kits are born in April or May, and for their first 10 weeks the mother will leave them in the den at night while she forages. The kits may whimper or whine if they become hungry, but now’s not the time to try to move them or their mother.
It’s best to wait to take action until they’re old enough to join her on her nightly forays.
Raccoons often have more than one den in their territories—you simply need to give them a good reason to move on from your home. If you make the area unappealing, they’re likely to find a darker, quieter location.
Try leaving talk radio on 24/7 (but not music) or turn a light on. Place rags soaked in apple cider vinegar in a plastic bag—poke some holes in it so the smell can escape—and leave it nearby.
Once you’ve seen the raccoon family outside, you can close off any points of entry into your home or cottage, like uncapped chimneys, loose shingles, or openings into attics. But be sure there are no kits left inside—mom can do considerable damage to your home trying to get to them, and kits left alone will suffer a slow an inhumane death.
If you have additional questions, contact the Aspen Valley animal care line at 705-644-4122 or visit aspenvalley.ca for wildlife tips.
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