Raccoons Rescued as Babies Released Back to the Wild!
Source: Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network
On May 3, 2020, three tiny baby raccoons were found by a citizen rescuer in Lompoc and brought to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. They were two and a half weeks old, eyes still closed, and tails barely striped. Homecare volunteers Dana and Mary hand-fed the babies raccoon formula every few hours, around the clock. Two weeks later, another orphaned baby raccoon was brought to us from a different part of Lompoc. He was welcomed by the other three. Dana and Mary cared for the four raccoons until they were three months old and ready to spend their time at the "Raccoon Resort" at our Wildlife Care Center.
This was a feisty bunch. Every morning, the mammal team cleaned their enclosure, and provided fresh hay and water, which the raccoons quickly ravaged with their morning wrestling match. They jumped after each other on their swinging hammocks (and broke a few in the process). Then, breakfast was served. The raccoons enjoyed a variety of their favorites, such as walnuts, scrambled eggs, grapes, avocados, and watermelon. After breakfast it was time for their mid-day naps. They lounged with paws dangling off their hammocks and crates, sometimes rolling onto one another and letting out disgruntled chitters. For an afternoon snack, the mammal team threw worms into their hay for them to "hunt." Dinner was served a few hours later, and it included more of their favorites: fish, crawdads, and rats! Staff cleaned up, knowing full well that the enclosure would be a wonderful mess the next morning after the raccoons' long, nightly play sessions.
As the raccoons got older, it was time to prep them for release. Their diets became more wild (raw quail eggs rather than scrambled eggs), and foraging became more frequent. The raccoons' posture and behavior towards wildlife personnel demonstrated that a barrier had been established and that the raccoons maintained their wild nature. On November 1st, six months after they first arrived, the four raccoons were driven to a large ranch near a creek in Buellton. Staff opened the crate, and the raccoons hesitantly climbed on top of it to sniff the air and look around. Once they realized there was nothing holding them back, they went romping in the underbrush before disappearing from sight... And their wild lives began! 14 more raccoons remain in care. Every day, they get closer to their second chance at life in the wild thanks to the awesome staff, volunteers, and donors of the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network! You can support their journey by visiting https://www.sbwcn.org/donate.
Watch them experience their first moments of the rest of their wild lives:
A note to those who may not be the biggest raccoon fans: these animals are incredibly intelligent and opportunistic. We understand their antics can sometimes disrupt our daily lives, but did you know that raccoons are also incredible at maintaining populations of rodents, insects, and other bugs? They enjoy rats, mice, snails, grasshoppers, cockroaches, fallen fruit, and other delectables that humans are not so fond of. They play a great part in controlling local pest populations. The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network recognizes the value of raccoons within the Santa Barbara ecosystem and are proud to save and serve such intelligent, important creatures.