Raccoon Babies When Are They Born

How Do Raccoons Protect Their Young Babies?

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Raccoons invest months in raising their young, and the females do their best to make sure their babies are protected. While there are no guarantees that they can keep them safe, mother raccoons hide their babies in safe spots, teach them how to survive on their own and fight off would-be predators looking for an easy meal.

Raccoon Baby Basics

Raccoons mate in the spring and then the father abandons the family and returns to a solitary lifestyle. The mother will usually have two to five babies, called kits, about 65 days after mating. Raccoon babies are born blind and helpless, so it’s up to the mother to find a safe place for them to live. She will look after them and care for them until they are able to take care of themselves, usually when they are 9 months to a year old.

Making a Secure Nest

A mother raccoon makes a den in a tree or she may move into a burrow that has been deserted by a woodchuck or another animal. Raccoons that live around humans will take advantage of other housing options and find quiet nesting spots in barns, attics, basements and outbuildings. The raccoon family typically remains safely in the den for about seven weeks, and then they’ll move house, finding a new den every few days to keep predators from discovering them.

Keeping Babies in Isolation

When a mother raccoon chooses her nesting site, she selects an area away from potential threats to her kits. This not only includes predatory animals, such as bobcats, owls and coyotes, but also other raccoons. Female raccoons tend to be territorial and may not tolerate sharing their area with other raccoon families. Only when her babies are agile enough to run and climb will the mother take them outside of the den to begin teaching them to fend for themselves.

Fighting and Biting

Although the male raccoons can get aggressive during the breeding season and may fight with other males, they don’t play a part in raising their babies. Females with young can also be quite aggressive and will stand up for their families if they feel their kits are threatened. They will fight to protect their young from any and all invaders, even well-meaning humans that stumble upon the nest. Though predators may grab kits if they’re left unguarded, when the mother raccoon is around hungry animals are likely to look elsewhere for a meal.

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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.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Raccoons page for tips and advice.
Get professional help: Visit my Nationwide Pro Directory of wildlife removal experts.

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.

See also:  How To Get Racoons Out Of Your House

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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When Do Raccoons Have Their Babies? Raccoon Babies!

Young raccoons are very playful animals. I once snuck up on a pair of baby raccoons wrestling & tumbling at the edge of a forest.

At first I just heard the alarm calls of some song sparrows and wanted to find out what was happening in the bushes.

It was so magical & hilarious to see those two little fur-balls tumble into view and realize they were the source of the sparrow’s frustration.

Raccoons are a common animal often seen moving around the neighborhood at dusk or night-time, especially when the young are still in their early stages of development.

Very often you’ll see a mom with several younglings following her around, which might lead you to wonder about when do raccoons have their babies?

Raccoons have babies at different times of the year depending on the climate. Northern raccoons have their babies between the months of January through March, while southern ones can have them between April through July. Female raccoons typically have one litter a year but can have a second if the first ones die.

So if you’re wondering when is the best time to encounter raccoon babies, you should be prepared during late winter and early spring.

However, baby raccoons are also kept safe in the den for about six weeks after birth so you’re actually more likely to see the growing family as the babies get a little bit older and begin moving around with mom during their juvenile phase.

How Do You Know When A Raccoon Has Had Babies?

Overall, the more skilled you get with basic wildlife tracking skills, the easier it will be to know when raccoon babies are being born.

It’s actually fairly simple… there are several easily observable clues that anyone can notice about raccoons to help you narrow down when they’re being born in your local area.

The first thing to check is the time of the year.

Raccoons won’t have babies in late summer, fall or early winter months, so you can rule those out right off the bat.

Next – Consider the relative harshness of your local environment. How cold are your winters and how early does the season shift compared to other places?

As a general rule, raccoons in the north tend to be born earlier than raccoons in the south. This ensures the babies have enough time to develop and get strong before the following winter.

If you’re able to check with local wildlife experts, they often have excellent insights or even first hand experience of when raccoons are typically born each year in your particular area.

The next thing you want to do is understand a little bit about where raccoons make their dens, since that’s where the babies will actually be born and stay during the first 6 weeks of their life.

If you can find an active raccoon den, it means you’re really hot on the trail.

Where Do Raccoons Make Their Dens?

Raccoons need a secure den to keep their babies safe from possible dangers. Not only does it have to be secure, but it also must be dark and warm for the health of the litter.

Dark to resemble the time of day they usually hunt for food, and warm to keep the babies from freezing during the coldest conditions.

Raccoons generally live in heavily wooded areas that have access to food, water, and shelter from the elements.

They like big old growth trees and often will make their dens in the hollows when these dry and protected spots are available.

One of the best ways to identify raccoon habitat is by studying what raccoons eat in your area, and then look for accessible den locations nearby.

However, raccoons are also extremely adaptable so it’s not uncommon to find them using any suitable covered location like under rocks or even inside human structures.

The most common places raccoons will make their dens in our homes are:

  • Attic
  • Garage
  • Shed
  • Under your porch

These human shelters are actually some of the most common places to find raccoon babies simply because you’re more likely to spot the signs around your home than out in the forest.

Raccoon claws and teeth are perfect for digging or breaking into walls to get into our homes. It’s quiet, dark, and private from the outside world.

The common theme of all raccoon dens is safety from outside elements. Staying in your home will protect them from potential predators, and secure the life expectancy of the raccoon’s litter.

This is the end goal for any female raccoon who gives birth.

What Behaviors Are Associated With Raccoon Dens?

If you suspect an area is being actively used as a den, the best thing to do is watch for behavioral signs.

See also:  Where Do Racoon Dogs Live

Even if a location is ideal for raccoons, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily using it right now, so you still need to observe and gather a bit more information.

One thing to realize is not all raccoon dens are used for birthing young. Winter dens are sometimes used as a shared warm spot by multiple adults. These winter dens often have obvious latrines nearby.

Raccoons don’t co-parent, so only the mothers care and raise their young.

Therefore if you spot a single, hefty looking raccoon during springtime, this is a much better indicator you may be seeing some babies soon.

Even a thinner mama raccoon walking around repeatedly in the same area night after night can be a good sign.

If the babies are nearby, she’ll be more hesitant to leave the area, so this is when you’re most likely to have repeated encounters.

Repeated encounters day after day or night after night can be a good sign there’s an active den nearby.

The next thing you might notice is the actual sound of raccoon babies in your attic or under your porch.

Unfortunately, one effect of human settlements is that our homes create perfect opportunities for raccoons to den up, which can create tension when human & animal worlds collide.

Raccoons have litters of 2-8 babies. Babies are quite vocal and chirp a bit like birds. This sound may throw you off initially, but their constant noise will assure you that you do indeed have baby raccoons nearby.

The mama raccoon will be patrolling close by to check on her babies.

Thirdly, if you suspect you have raccoons living inside your attic, listen for the mom moving around in your house.

Mother raccoons will be very active as she goes in and out of your house to find food and check on her babies.

She won’t be able to stop the sounds she makes due to her sharp claws digging into beams and insulation. She won’t make any vocal sounds unless you come face-to-face, then she will possibly hiss.

Lastly, is to check for burrowing debris or sounds.

A mama raccoon will be coming and going while she feeds herself and then her babies. She will often leave sticks and leaves around the entry point and will make scratching noises as she walks around. As babies get bigger, they will start burrowing around your house as well.

How Long Do Baby Raccoons Take to Become Independent?

Once a raccoon has had babies, it can take up to 3 months for the babies to start becoming independent from their mother.

The babies often stay hidden in the den’s insulation while their mother forages for food. She will need to check on them often, both for safety as well as feeding schedules.

Given that baby raccoons are so dependent on their mother, she has to make sure their den is safe from predators and weather. They don’t even open their eyes for about 21 days.

Baby raccoons are notorious for being loud. They have no fear of the outside world yet and often will cry for their mother’s attention or food.

Babies will fully separate from their mother after one year. They are completely independent on finding food and fending for themselves at this point, and will even start looking for mates.

Raccoons can live in loose-knit groups of 4-5 other raccoons, so they do not necessarily live completely on their own.

What Do You Do If You Have Baby Raccoons In Your House?

In an ideal world, raccoons would have plenty of wild den opportunities to keep them happy and living peacefully around the edges of human society.

However, it does happen sometimes that raccoons can end up inside your home.

If this happens, your first course of action should be to call a professional. They’re trained in handling raccoons safely and humanely when removing them from homes.

These professionals will also help keep your house damage to a minimum. Whereas, if you try to do it yourself you could hurt yourself, the raccoons or your house.

Whatever you do, don’t disturb the nest! Raccoons can sometimes carry rabies, including babies. So, don’t let yourself get bitten by trying to mess with the nest.

If the mama raccoon is present, she will do all she can to protect her babies. She will most likely scratch or bite you if you try to pick her or her babies up to move them out of your house.

You also don’t want to separate the babies from their mother while they are still small.

They are completely dependent on her, and can potentially die without her. Not to mention the mother’s fear for her babies when she comes back and sees that they are gone.

The mama may tear up your house searching for them, causing more damage to your home.

Baby raccoons can start to burrow themselves after 3 months, and may even leave your home around that time.

The problem is they might now see your house as a great nesting place for future generations.

The mama raccoon can come back next year with her new litter to do the process all over again.

Her babies can also bring their babies and so on, so you’ll want to take steps to prevent future issues and keep raccoons out of your home.

How Do You Keep Raccoons Away?

Many people find raccoons extremely cute, but if you ever find them living in your home or shed, you still probably don’t want to encourage this behavior.

It can lead to problems with your home, and it’s actually much healthier for raccoon populations to depend on natural shelters.

This process is fairly simple once the raccoons are moved out. There are three steps you can take to keep raccoons away from your home:

  1. Find and repair damage to your home
  2. Remove attractive items (trash, water, shelter)
  3. Raccoon Repellants

1. First, find and repair any damage done to your home.

See also:  Raccoon Under House How To Get Rid Of It

This could be holes dug under your shed or porch. Or holes in your walls and dug out insulation to get into your garage or attic.

This damage will also help to confirm that you had raccoons in your home or yard if you aren’t yet sure. The type of damage will help you decide on the best way to keep raccoons out.

You’ll want to repair the damage properly, remembering that raccoons are incredibly smart & crafty.

Half finished jobs won’t keep them out, so just make sure you do a good job sealing up the holes and keep your home raccoon proof in the future.

2. Next, keep any attractive items out of reach of raccoons.

Garbage bags and food are big attractors for raccoons, who will break open or eat these items.

The more you can do to prevent raccoons from being rewarded with food and interesting smells to investigate, the less likely they will be to cause problems around your home.

If you notice raccoons are getting into your garbage or compost, you probably want to start taking steps to prevent this.

You might think it’s harmless for raccoons to have your leftovers, but it actually trains their behavior to be more dependant on humans, and therefore more likely to try and get into your home.

City raccoons tend to have a higher population density because there’s so many scraps left around by humans.

Higher population density means there’s higher demand for dens to have babies, which means they’re more likely to break into human structures.

Higher population density can also lead to health problems and more stressful lifestyles for raccoons. It’s more humane to do our best to have the least impact on them as possible.

3. Natural Repellents

If you do a good job with those first 2 steps, you really shouldn’t have any need for this final step.

Raccoons are smart enough to know when they’ve been beat so if you simply eliminate the rewards of being close to your home, they’ll eventually stop snooping around so much and move on.

However, if you really need something extra there are natural repellents you can make to help support those first steps and make things even less attractive for raccoons.

You can simply spread cayenne pepper around the area you don’t want raccoons to go through. You may need to spread it often if it rains, but it will work.

You can also make stronger liquid blends of spicy peppers that give off smells to keep animals away.

You would boil the ingredients and strain it before spraying it around your house or garden to keep them away. It is natural as well as powerful.

In most cases this third step is completely unnecessary, and a lot more work than it’s worth.

In Summary

Raccoons are highly intelligent animals that often live at the edge of human environments. They’re simply trying to live their lives in peace like the rest of us.

If we stay respectful and curious, they can open our eyes to an entire world of life happening right at the edges of our own backyards & neighborhoods.

Observing your local raccoons is a great way to get inspired about nature both for adults & children.

There is a deep joy inherent to watching a mom & her baby raccoons happily exploring their new world.

But it’s also important to take personal responsibility for the impact we humans can have on these fascinating animals.

Our homes, environment & how we manage our waste can all have dramatic consequences for the long term behavior & health & stress levels for local raccoons.

Keep learning and always be mindful of your impact so humans and raccoons can live in harmony.

Do this and someday you too might get to witness baby raccoons tumbling and wrestling in the bushes!

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Hi, My Name Is Brian Mertins…

When I was 15 years old I had an experience of sudden lucid clarity while hiking in the woods. Since then I’ve been passionately seeking tools for helping modern humans develop razor sharp natural instincts. I’m the author of multiple courses & ebooks about bird language, naturalist training, observation skills & outdoor mindfulness. My goal is to share these life changing skills with YOU! Continue reading

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