How Can You Tell If A Baby Raccoon Is Abandoned? Signs To Look For

how can you tell if a baby raccoon is abandoned

If you are concerned about a baby raccoon in your yard that appears alone and abandoned, it’s essential to assess the situation carefully. How can you tell if a baby raccoon is abandoned? 

You can tell if a baby raccoon is abandoned if it’s consistently crying or distressed without any sign of an adult raccoon returning, or if it appears malnourished, weak, and dirty with no mother in sight for an extended period. If it’s wandering aimlessly or exhibiting abnormal behavior without adult supervision, it could also indicate abandonment.

How Can You Tell If A Baby Raccoon Is Abandoned?

While it’s tempting to help a seemingly abandoned baby raccoon, it’s important to first determine if it truly needs your intervention. Mother raccoons are very attentive to their young and often leave them alone while foraging for food. Here are some steps to help you assess the situation:

Signs a baby raccoon might be alone (but not necessarily abandoned):

  • It is alone during the day: This is normal behavior for young raccoons under their mother’s care. Mother raccoons are primarily nocturnal and leave their young hidden during the day. Mother raccoons will leave their babies alone in a safe location, such as a nest in a tree or attic, while they forage for food. 
  • Exploring Alone: It’s common for baby raccoons to venture away from their mothers temporarily as they explore their surroundings. If you see a baby raccoon on its own but it appears healthy and is actively moving around, it may simply be exploring independently.
  • Healthy Appearance: A baby raccoon that appears clean, well-groomed, and free from obvious signs of injury or illness is less likely to be abandoned. Healthy babies are usually being cared for by their mothers, even if they’re temporarily left alone.
  • Recent Activity: If you’ve observed adult raccoons in the area recently or if there are signs of recent raccoon activity (such as tracks or scat), it’s possible that the baby raccoon is simply waiting for its mother to return.

Signs a baby raccoon might be truly abandoned:

  • It is alone for an extended period (24+ hours): If the baby is alone overnight and still alone in the morning, it’s a stronger indication of abandonment.
  • It cries constantly: Persistent crying, especially if the baby seems distressed, can suggest it’s been separated from its mother for a while.
  • It appears weak or injured: This could indicate it hasn’t been receiving proper care and needs immediate attention.
  • It is found in a dangerous location: This includes areas with heavy traffic, near predators, or exposed to harsh weather.

How Long Will a Mother Raccoon Leave Her Babies Alone?

A mother raccoon typically leaves her babies alone for around 4 to 6 hours at a time while she goes out to forage for food. However, this timeframe can vary depending on factors such as the availability of food and the age of the babies.

The exact duration can vary depending on factors such as the availability of food, the location of the den, and the age of the babies. Generally, as the babies grow older and become more independent, the mother may leave them alone for longer periods.

It’s not uncommon for mother raccoons to leave their babies unattended for up to several hours at a time.

How Long Can Baby Raccoons Live Without Their Mother?

Baby raccoons can survive for about 24 to 48 hours without their mother’s care, depending on their age, health, and environmental conditions. However, it’s important to note that their chances of survival decrease significantly the longer they are left without maternal care. 

  • Newborns (0-3 weeks): Almost no chance without immediate specialized care.
  • Older Kittens (3-8 weeks): Low survival rate, intervention crucial.
  • Weaned Juveniles (8-12 weeks): Improved chances, but risky.
  • Teenagers (4-6 months): Better odds, but caution advised.

What To Do If I Find A Young Raccoon Alone And Abandoned?

If you find a young raccoon alone:

Observe first: Don’t assume abandonment! Mother raccoons leave their young periodically. Watch from a distance for several hours (especially at night) before intervening.

Age matters:

  • Newborns (0-3 weeks): Extremely low survival alone. Seek immediate professional help from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Older kits (3-8 weeks): Low survival, but some hope. Intervention is highly recommended.
  • Weaned juveniles (8-12 weeks): Improved chances, but still risky. Consider contacting a professional.
  • Teenagers (4-6 months): Better odds, but caution advised. Observe closely.
  • Read the full guide on how to determine the baby raccoon’s age.

Contact Wildlife Authorities: Reach out to your local wildlife rehabilitators or animal control authorities for guidance. They have the expertise and resources to assess the situation and provide appropriate care for the abandoned animal.

Provide Shelter: If the baby raccoon is in immediate danger, such as being exposed to extreme weather or predators, you can carefully place it in a ventilated box lined with a soft cloth and keep it in a quiet, dark area away from pets and noise until help arrives.

Do Not Offer Food: Refrain from giving the baby raccoon any food unless advised to do so by wildlife experts. Feeding the wrong diet or giving water incorrectly can harm the raccoon or make it more difficult for rehabilitators to provide proper care. If the raccoon is starving and you have the permit to feed the raccoon – read the full guide on what to feed the baby raccoon.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How can you tell if a baby raccoon is abandoned

Q1: Will a mother raccoon abandon her babies?

A: Mother raccoons typically do not abandon their babies willingly. They are dedicated caregivers, leaving their young only briefly to forage for food. However, in rare cases such as illness or injury, abandonment may occur.

Q2: Do baby raccoons bite?

A: Yes, baby raccoons can bite if they feel threatened or frightened. It’s important to handle them with care or avoid close contact altogether. If you encounter a baby raccoon, it’s best to leave it alone and contact wildlife authorities for assistance.

Q3: How can I tell if a baby raccoon is healthy?

A: Healthy baby raccoons typically have bright eyes, and clean fur, and are alert and active. They should also exhibit a healthy appetite and show no signs of injury or illness. If you’re unsure about the health of a baby raccoon, it’s best to consult with a wildlife expert for guidance.

A: Keeping a baby raccoon as a pet is strongly discouraged and illegal in most states. While adorable, they are wild animals with complex needs and unpredictable behaviors. Raising them properly requires specialized care and resources. Owning them often carries health risks for both humans and the animal, and releasing them

Q5: What should I do if I see a mother raccoon with her babies?

A: If you encounter a mother raccoon with her babies, it’s best to keep your distance and avoid disturbing them. Raccoon mothers are protective of their young and may become aggressive if they feel threatened. Enjoy observing them from a safe distance and allow them to go about their activities undisturbed. If you have concerns about the raccoons’ well-being, such as if they appear injured or in danger, contact local wildlife authorities for assistance.


Understanding the behavior and needs of raccoons is crucial for coexisting peacefully with these fascinating creatures. Whether observing their sleeping habits, caring for abandoned babies, or encountering them in the wild, respect for their natural instincts and habitats is paramount. 

Remembering that raccoons are wild animals best left in their natural environment, and seeking assistance from wildlife authorities when necessary, ensures their well-being and safety. By fostering awareness and respect for raccoons, we can contribute to their conservation while enjoying the unique role they play in our ecosystems.

About Tanya Garg 82 Articles
I'm Tanya, the dedicated raccoon enthusiast behind My mission is to share my knowledge about raccoons through insightful blogs, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these intelligent creatures. Join me on a journey to learn more about raccoons, their behavior, and the importance of ensuring their safe relocation when necessary. Let's together create a world where raccoons and humans coexist harmoniously and safely.