Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary takes in as many as 200 raccoon babies in a single season, and the calls are already pouring in this spring.
Spring is the busiest time of year at Aspen Valley and the species they’re getting the most calls about is the raccoon. If a mother raccoon is away too long, her babies, known as kits, may whimper or whine out of hunger, which is often what tips off homeowners to the presence of the animals. It’s best to wait out baby season, about eight to 10 weeks, and allow the family to move on before closing points of entry, but for those that want to move the raccoons along earlier, it’s important to do it the right way.
“Some kits are sadly orphaned due to homeowners trapping and removing nursing moms and not realizing that they had babies. This creates an even bigger problem,” said a statement from Aspen Valley. “Encouraging raccoons to move on their own is a much more humane way of handling these unwanted houseguests.”
Raccoons have more than one den in their territories, meaning they have other places they can take their babies. Homeowners simply need to give the mother and babies a chance to safely leave the den.
“Mom raccoons love dark, quiet spots to raise their kits,” said the sanctuary. “So, if you’d like them to wrap up their stay, you’ll want to make their den the complete opposite to encourage mom and babies to move elsewhere.”
Aspen Valley recommends a combination of a talk radio station (no music) playing at all times, a non-flammable light source and the introduction of uncomfortable smells, such as apple cider vinegar, which you can soak on rags and place in a plastic bag with holes. After the raccoons are all safely out of the den, homeowners can close up points of entry like uncapped chimneys, rotting roofs and loose shingles.
“Do not repair the entrance they are using until you are sure that they are all outside,” said the sanctuary. “Doing so will result in considerable damage from the mother trying to get in and/or a slow, inhumane death for her young.”
For more information, contact Aspen Valley’s animal care line at 705-644-4122 or visit their website to find tips for how to handle wildlife on your property.