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Baby Raccoons

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Back in I had shared some photos of a Sleeping Raccoon and of a Raccoon on the Roof that made itself comfortable within viewing distance of our kitchen window. You don't see raccoons in Calgary ever, so it was a neat opportunity to take some photos of one up-close.

That was the closest encounter Michelle and I had ever had with raccoons. Sure, they go through your garbage and make a mess of your green bins, but they never really bothered us. In fact, Michelle even thought they were cute

Raccoon Staring in the Window

And then since early this year, we had raccoons pestering us in the evenings. They'd never go through our garbage nor make a mess of our green bins though – it seemed like the only thing they wanted was to get into our attic. They'd climb the fence on the side of the house, climb up to a small window off our living room and then get up onto the roof of the house. On more than one occasion while sitting in the living room, we'd look up to the window and see a raccoon staring at us from the window – it wasn't scared of us and even when we'd walk up to bang on the window, it still sat there, staring back at us!

And finally in early after many noisy, sleepless nights, they finally ripped up enough shingles and made a hole large enough to make their way into the attic.

Raccoons are active during the night and sleep during the day, so it was usually early in the morning just before the sun would rise that we'd hear the raccoons forcing their way into the attic. And during the daytime, I'd constantly hear noises in the ceiling – it sounded like the raccoons were shifting positions during sleep and trying to make themselves more comfortable.

Our landlord installed a one-way door on the roof so that the raccoons would be able to leave but not come back. They managed to rip it off on one night, but after securing it better we could see that a sticker was missing the next day, which was proof that one of them had left the attic. But we were still hearing noises in the ceiling, so we knew that it wasn't the only one.

For whatever reason, it seemed like the raccoon had a preference for sleeping in the back corner of the house right above my office. I was sitting there early yesterday morning without music on (which is rare for me) and heard what sounded like a raccoon giving birth to raccoon cubs. For the very first time, I heard animal sounds much more distinct than just shuffling noises. I quickly searched the net for baby raccoon sounds and was able to confirm that what I heard was indeed the sound of baby raccoons…

I also messaged my brother with the news, and his response was pretty funny: "Wow, lucky!  At least someone in that house is having babies!! haha" Hilarious!

Anyways, our landlord was already on his way over to resolve our raccoon issue once and for all, (they cause a lot of damage!) but with this new development it meant he'd have to change his plan of action. He called a couple wildlife removal companies but no one was available on such short notice, so we'd have to wait it out for one more night.

Michelle had found this video describing the process of removing raccoons from the attic (click that link, it's really worth watching and not too long either), and it turned out that our landlord called that very same company to remove the raccoons – AAA Gates' Wildlife Control.

Here are some photos of the baby raccoons (one of the technician's glove was ripped so the bright red that you see is just the lining of his glove):

Day-old Raccoon Cub
Day-old Raccoon Cub
Day-old Raccoon Cub
Day-old Raccoon Cub
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cub
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs
Day-old Raccoon Cubs

The three baby raccoons were so tiny that one of the technicians said they were "just born not too long ago", and he said it's very possible that I did indeed hear them being born yesterday! And within a week, they'll be about the size of a honeydew melon…

The next step was to put the babies in a heated box on the roof so that they could stay safe and their mom could find them. She ran away scared when the guys went up into the attic, but they weren't sure if she was still hiding in the attic or if she had ran outside, so they had to install a one-way door once again incase she was still inside. (You don't want to close up the hole in the roof only to find out she's still inside!)

Installing the Wildlife Release Box
Wildlife Release Box on the Roof
Raccoon One Way Door

The technicians also gave us some very interesting information.

First, that the mother raccoon goes searching for a safe place to give birth (like a warm attic) about two weeks before she's due, and won't leave even for food so that she doesn't lose the spot… So it's very likely that the reason we were losing so much sleep is because the raccoon hadn't left in two weeks… And the noises we heard? She was probably just chewing up the wood in the attic.

More shocking than that though, is that once she gives birth, she can go one month without eating! We figured that she'd have to leave at some point if she's going to produce milk, but such is not the case. Nature is incredible…

About an hour after the technicians left, we could hear the mother raccoon finally got the courage to come out of hiding and was running around the attic looking for her cubs. I stayed by the living room window hoping to snap some more photos when she finally came out to retrieve her cubs, but it was a race against time as the sun was starting to set – I didn't want to use any flash to take the photos and risk scaring the mother raccoon unnecessarily…

Mother Raccoon's Nose on the Left
Raccoon's Nose on the Left
Open Wildlife Box = Cubs Retrieved
Open Box = Cubs Retrieved

At one point, I saw her stick her nose out of the one-way door and I think she could smell her cubs, but was a little scared and unsure of the box on the roof, so she went back inside.

And finally at 10:30pm after listening to Michelle worry and obsess about separating the cubs from their mother, we looked up on the roof and could see that the wildlife release box was open. The mother has retrieved her cubs and moved them somewhere safe!


UPDATE –

The wildlife control guys were just here – they confirmed that the mother raccoon came out of the attic and proceeded to seal up the access hole.

The bad news is, the mother raccoon only retrieved one of her cubs – the other two are still in the box. I was going to shut off the light (and heater) last night when I saw that the box was open – I guess it's a good thing I didn't! I asked if this was normal for her to only take one and not the others, and they said that they often see this so that's why they give them two days before removing the box. Given that the weather was not so bad last night (and that we know that she had taken the first one by 10:30pm), chances are that she's not planning on returning and will just leave the other two to die. But "sometimes they surprise us" said the technician, which is why they give them two days…

How does a mom pick which of her three babies should live?

I'll update again tomorrow or as soon as I know more.


UPDATE –

The wildlife guys came this morning at around 9:30am. Though we saw the box was open last night at around 7:30pm and thought the mother raccoon had come back to get her babies, the box was "probably opened by the wind" and the two raccoon cubs were still in the box this morning… I didn't ask if they were still alive, but evidently the mother raccoon decided not to come back for them, and the box is now gone. The end.