July 5, 2022

CTNaturalist: Baby Racoon Rescue

Raccoons are one of the most common wild mammals found in Connecticut. This animal is among the most intelligent and social in the animal kingdom, yet an appreciation for their behavior is often overshadowed by fear and misunderstanding.

This week, CT Naturalist productions had a unique opportunity to visit an orphaned baby raccoon. His parents fell victim to automobile mortality. Now, he is in the custody of an animal rehabilitation center where he learns basic raccoon skills that he’ll need when released back into the wild. Take a look one of his training sessions in the following video.

Welcome to the Fog Pocket Raccoon shelter, where orphaned raccoons a rehabilitated, raised, and released back into the wild.  Our guest today is Meeky.  His family fell victim to vehicle mortality on the highway. Meeky was the only survivor.

Today he’s being taken into the forest for a training session, where he practices and sharpens his natural raccoon instincts and abilities.

Before he begins to explore, animal rehabilitator, Joe, carries him into the forest. When he’s on the ground his session begins.
Running along the path, he exercises his legs, lungs, muscles.  Preparing for times when he may need to flee a predator or chase prey.

As Meeky approaches a stream, his next lesson will commence. Raccoons hands are always at work probing their surroundings.  Outside of the primate family, raccoons have arguably the best dexterity in their fingers and hands than any other animal.  In fact, the English word Raccoon, is derived from a Native American word meaning “to feel with the hands”.

Meeky is right at home in the water of the steam.  He runs along the bank and swims in the shallows. Staples of a raccoon diet include crayfish, frogs, minnows, larval insects, mollusks, salamanders, and other invertebrates that live along the riverbank.
Raccoons are primarily nocturnal, so their sharp sense of touch helps when hunting at night. Additionally, they have a keen sense of smell and can locate food, scents of other raccoons, and predators easily at night.

During his daily training sessions, Meeky also practices climbing trees. His sharp claws are perfect grappling hooks and he can scale up or down a tree trunk with ease. However, Joe can’t let him climb to high at this young age. Once in the upper limbs, Meeky might remain in the tree for several hours and disrupt the rest of his training schedule.

Each day Meeky gains confidence and ability and strays farther away from the trail and his handler.  Someday he’ll be released permanently into the wild where he can live a normal raccoon life.  But for now, after a day’s adventure, Meeky is content to sit in a shoulder bag as Joe carries him back towards the car and home.