What To Feed Baby Raccoons
What do you feed baby raccoons ?
Baby raccoons feed exclusively on their mother’s milk until they
are 6-8 weeks of age. The should never be fed cow’s milk as they
can not digest it and will probably die. They should be given KMR,
Kitten Milk Replacer, in a small nursing bottle with a nipple. It
is available in better pet shops and some veterinary clinics. For
more information on care and feeding of orphan raccoons click on
What to Feed Raccoons
Despite their reputation for being meddlesome, disease-carrying scavengers, raccoons are actually highly intelligent, playful creatures that can make great pets if cared for properly. These nocturnal, opportunistic creatures have adapted extremely well to life in suburbia, feeding on the garbage of households across America. In captivity, raccoons will eat everything from table scraps to high-protein cat food.
Pet raccoons will eat just about anything, but it’s important to provide them with a balanced diet to avoid obesity and other health problems.
If you are planning to keep a raccoon as a pet, it’s OK to feed him chopped up, prepared food like you would a cat or dog. But if you plan to release him into the wild at some poknt, you’ll want to present his food as naturally as possible. This way, your raccoon will develop the scavenging and hunting techniques he’ll need to survive.
Provide your raccoon with a constant supply of water in a small dish or trough. Always keep water in the same place so your raccoon will know where to find it. Raccoons love to wash their food before eating it, so make sure there is water present whenever he eats.
Feed your raccoon a diverse, balanced diet rich in protein. In general you want to avoid simple carbohydrates and focus on hearty foods like eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, chicken, fish and turkey. You can feed him table scraps as long as it’s relatively healthy. It’s also perfectly fine to give your raccoon a treat occasionally to reinforce good behavior, though raccoons tend to be a bit more unruly than standard domestic animals.
Baby raccoons require very different care. Separated from their mothers, baby raccoons are entirely defenseless and susceptible to dehydration. Feed baby raccoons puppy replacement powder in an equal mixture of sterilized water and goat’s milk. Never feed a baby raccoon cow’s milk. Babies should be fed multiple times a day. Consult a vet for additional vitamins to help keep the baby strong and healthy.
Feeding Wild Raccoons
Feeding raccoons outside your home can be a fun way to build a relationship with these charming animals and observe them socializing. There’s no right or wrong way to feed wild raccoons, though there are some guidelines you should follow to avoid harming the animals and yourself.
Provide your raccoons with plenty of healthy food that is rich in protein. This could include a mix of nuts, fruit, peanut butter, fish, turkey and chicken. Raccoons love dog and cat food, too. If you’re feeding a large group of raccoons, place several different plates of food so they don’t fight each other over dibs. Raccoons are generally peaceful animals, but they will get vicious if there’s a scarcity of food.
Don’t feed wild raccoons by hand. They are cute and cuddly-looking, but raccoons have sharp claws and teeth. They also carry rabies, a potentially deadly disease. If a raccoon bites you, it will be taken away by the authorities and killed.
Don’t let the raccoons get too accustomed to free food or they will demand it when you cut them off. Stagger their meals so that they continue to forage and hunt for themselves and only return to your yard every couple of days. This is better for you and for the animals in the long run.
What To Feed Baby Raccoons
A raccoon is a RABIES VECTOR SPECIES!
If you have found an orphaned or injured raccoon, you must be informed that RABIES in Texas is an ongoing state health emergency.
It is illegal for a person to keep as a “Pet,” possess, or transport certain animals that are high risk for transmitting rabies, including raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats and coyotes. A violation of this law is a Class C misdemeanor.
Until you are able to contact and place the orphan with a permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator, you can follow these CARE INSTRUCTIONS to give the infant the best chance for survival.
HEAT & BEDDING: The very FIRST thing the orphaned raccoon kit will need is an external heat source. Infants younger than 5 weeks do not produce their own body heat to thermo-regulate. They need a heating pad, set on LOW setting. Place a bath towel, folded to make about a 1 to 1 1/2 inch thickness and put it on the heating pad. Now, place a box on top of the towel. Place your babies into a soft cloth such as an old flannel shirt, or old sweatshirt or sweatpants. Place the infant, nestled in the cloth, down into the box. That way, a gradual heat will come up through the layers and warm the infant, but not make them too hot.
HOW OLD IS THE RACCOON? A 100-gram or less — baby is a week or less old: very light hair fuzz, 4 ½ -6” nose-end of tail, eyes closed, ears unopened, crawls spread-legged.
A 250 gram baby is about 2 ½ weeks old (about 8 ½ long)
A 350 gram baby is about 3 ½ weeks old (about 10 “ long) (eyes open 2 ½-3 wks))
A 550 gram baby is about 5 ½ weeks old (about 12-14” long) (ears open about 4wks) (begin to walk)
A 950 gram baby is about 9 ½ weeks old (eating solid foods, very active and independent) A 1500- 2000 gram baby (time to start giving it the skills it will need for release)
RACCOON DEVELOPMENT: Raccoon kits or cubs are born very lightly furred, with a faint mask. They typically weigh three to five ounces and 4-6 inches long with 2-2 1/4″ tail. Pigmented tail rings will be present or will appear at about one week of age.
Their eyes are closed and so are their ears, which are pressed tightly forward to the head. The head seems large compared to the rest of the body. When hungry, cold, or not in contact with another warm body, the babies will start chattering, whine or twitter like birds. They can crawl in a spider-like fashion with all four legs in extension, but cannot climb or stand and support their full weight. The eyes open at about two to three weeks, the ears shortly thereafter. They now average 7-10″ long. They will be VERY vocal at this age. They will churr, growl, hiss, and give an alarm snort. By 4 weeks they are about 12-13″ long. When five to six weeks old, most can walk, run, and climb very well.Seven-week-old babies will engage in active (and sometimes rough) fighting characterized by growling, squealing, biting, wrestling, and imitating adult defense postures.
They remain in their birth den until they are about seven or eight weeks old, at which point their mother moves them to a series of alternate dens. After about eight to nine weeks of age they begin eating solid foods in the wild and by 10 weeks they travel with their mother. By four months old, they will be completely weaned and somewhat independent.
Raccoon mothers with babies enjoy a privileged position in the raccoon hierarchy for as long as the babies remain with the mother. Other raccoons will defer to a female with babies in feeding situations. For rehabbers, the appropriate age for releasing hand-raised baby raccoons back into the wild is 16 to 24 weeks. This of course would be subject to the season of the year and the readiness of the animal. I prefer to wait until they are at least 20-24 weeks. At this age they are still young enough that there instincts take over and they become truly wild following their release.
HYPOTHERMIA: A raccoon’s normal body temperature is 101-103°F. Warming chilled (hypothermic) babies is very important. Smaller orphaned babies often have subnormal body temperatures.
This is because they have little hair, while their surface area is greater per gram of body weight and they lose heat faster. You must ensure that the baby’s body core temperature is at an acceptable level before trying to feed it. Trying to feed a cold orphan may result in death. It is so easy to cook the babies; especially those so little or weak that they can’t move to a temperature that is comfortable. Keep the raccoon in a warm, dark place until the baby has stabilized, WARM SLOWLY over several hours. Warming to fast WILL cause organ failure and they will die.
DEHYDRATION: Dehydration is very common in orphan raccoons. A baby raccoon that is 5% dehydrated needs to get about 4-5% of its body weight of balanced fluids over an 8-hour period. A good rehydrating solution can be made by mixing the following: 1 pint of boiled (or distilled) water — 1 teaspoon of sugar — 1/3 teaspoon of salt. You can also rehydrate dehydrated babies with warm warmed Lactated Ringer’s Solution (LRS) if available, or diluted Pedialyte,
every hour or so for 3 or 4 feedings. NEVER FEED A COLD BABY —
BE SURE THEY ARE WARM (Body Temp 101F (38.3C) before you attempt to give them anything orally.
FEEDING: Once the baby is warm, calm and accepting the hydrating solution, you must start it on KMR (kitten milk replacement formula by PetAg) Infant Formula – KMR 1 Part Powder to 2 ¼ parts H20 (May vary H20 2 ½ to 3 parts — Depending on stool — Increase H20 for Constipation) Use distilled/filtered water because some additives or purification chemicals in tap drinking water may endanger fragile orphaned wild animal babies.
If the babies are not fed properly as infants, they may develop metabolic bone disease resulting in a horrid, painful death once released.
Never give whole milk, raw eggs or honey to baby raccoons, as these could cause a deadly digestive bacterial infection. Keeping the baby hydrated and getting its electrolytes back in balance will suffice until it can be properly fed. Formula should be heated to body temperature before feeding (100-102F). You should feed it 5 times a day (that includes in the middle of the night) for the first four weeks. If it doesn’t take to the bottle yet (animal nurser bottle, 4 ounce size, from a pet shop or a baby bottle with preemie nipple), Use a medication syringe and allow the baby to lick the formula off of the tip.
FEEDING SCHEDULE (APPROXIMATIONS)
Birth to 1 week: 4-6 cc every 2 hours and once through the night.
1-2 weeks: 6-8 cc every 2 hours and once through the night.
2-3 weeks: 15-30 cc every 3 hours.
3-4 weeks: 50-60 cc every 3-4 hours.
4-8 weeks: 60 cc every 4 hours.
HOW TO FEED: Use a baby bottle, warm the formula, and place the raccoon on its tummy. The raccoon will suck. You will have to clamp your hand firmly over its muzzle and rub its back to get the raccoon started. Make sure the hole in the nipple is not too large, as this will allow the raccoon to take too much formula. If this happens the raccoon will sneeze formula out of its nose – Stop feeding, turn upside down, gently rub its back, and gently wipe the excess formula from its nose. Repeat this for about 5 minutes or until the sneezing stops and breathing returns to normal. If severe this can cause immediate death or pneumonia on a long-term basis. To avoid this from occurring feed in a quiet room, go slowly and watch both the raccoon and the bottle. Feed the baby belly down on a towel or blanket on a counter top or on your lap; do not place it on its back, as this can cause aspiration leading to pneumonia and possible death. Don’t overfeed! Raccoons will overeat when nursing. Overeating can cause bloat and/or colic resulting in death. Stop nursing the baby when it stops sucking vigorously, stops searching for the nipple or if its little belly feels full. It is better to feed more often than to overfeed. Baby raccoons can drink 1-5% of their body weight in cc’s at a feeding – better you stop before the animal is overfilled and refusing. Gently rubbing or scratching the back of the neck or lower back, where the body meets the tail, may stimulate it to nurse. After feeding is finished, wash its face well with a damp face cloth as the formula dries quickly and will cause fur loss.
You will have to burp the baby, by laying it over your shoulder or lap and gently patting the upper neck, and manually stimulate it to eliminate for another few weeks. Use a warm rough paper towel and gently swap or tap the genital area from front to back. Place a soft piece of material between you and the baby so that you don’t get dirty. If diarrhea occurs, dilute the strength of the formula.
WEANING DIET: (6 to 8 Weeks) You should be feeding 4 times a day now.
Start to blend some Purina Puppy Chow into the milk formula and make the nipple hole larger.
Progress as follows:
90% Purina Puppy chow (and a SMALL amt of Kitten Chow)
10% Fruits, apples, grape, banana, berries, melons, Nuts, Cooked egg (Scrambled or hard boiled), Baby food chicken; progress to small pieces of chicken and other meats, raw vegetables, small mice, live fish, bugs, grasshoppers, worms.
TREATS (Sparingly) Fig Newton’s, cookies, wafers, raisins.
Once the baby is fully weaned (approximately 8-10 weeks), you should gradually work up from a soft gruel to a high quality dry dog and cat kibble as the main staple. To this, you can add whatever meals, snacks and treats you wish. Raccoons vary in their tastes for food, but few like carrots. Most will devour watermelons or uncooked corn on the cob, but do not do this if you want to release the baby in an area where corn or watermelons are grown. Dog biscuits and grapes can be useful bribes. (You may need to cut the grapes in half until the raccoons discover what they are.) Raccoons have a sweet-tooth and may love marshmallows, but use sweets sparingly. It will enjoy fishing and hunting for minnows and crickets, obtained from bait shops. This teaches valuable hunting skills. Raccoons also enjoy digging for grubs, nuts and berries. A raccoon will put anything it finds into its mouth and eats it if it tastes good. Introduce as many natural food items as possible. Raccoons have adaptable opportunistic dietary habits. You can obtain food from a live bait store like Gander Mountain.
LITTER BOX: Once a raccoon can walk, you can train it to use a litter-box. If you use a water bowl instead of a water bottle, the raccoon will eliminate in the water bowl. It will then «wash» its food in that same water. Remove the water bowl. Place a litter box in the enclosure. If you are still weaning the raccoon to solid food process, place a small tin with kitty litter next to the feeding area. If the raccoon starts to eliminate, immediately place it in the litter. This will help speed up the process and keep it from using its food bowl as a toilet. Raccoons will share a litter-box. They do not bury their feces, but may knock over the litter-box for fun. Place a piece of concrete under the litter to weigh it down.
Practice proper hygiene at all times, as raccoons pass harmful parasites through their stools. On KMR, a normal stool is golden brown, with the consistency of peanut butter. Promptly flush any fecal matter down the toilet and immediately practice proper hygiene. Once the baby feeds from a dish, this should no longer be necessary
WORM THE COON with Pyrantel Pamoate, orally at (5mg/pound) or 11mg/kg. BE DILIGENT ABOUT WORMING. DO NOT MISS A SINGLE DOSE UNTIL RELEASE. Pyrantel pamoate is very low in toxicity because it is not absorbed from the intestine. It is sold under the trade names Nemex, NEMEX-2, and Strongid.