A young animal’s best chance for surviving is with its parents. The first thing to do if you see a baby animal is to step away. You can assess the young animal from a distance. Many young animals appear to be abandoned. Oftentimes, their mother has not abandoned the young, but limits the number of visits to the nesting area to prevent predators from discovering its location. Humans are considered a predator and the parents will stay away while we are in the area. If the young look content and quiet, they are probably being well cared for and should be left alone.
If you find a baby mammal that is uninjured, is furred, and moving well, leave it alone, it will probably find its way back to a parent, or its parent will find it. If you see the nest, put on some gloves, and gently place the baby back in the nest. Despite the common misconception, wild animal parents will NOT reject babies if humans have touched them! A baby animal will always have the best chance for survival if it is raised by its parents.
If you do not see the nest, you can create a surrogate nest to help keep the baby safe, and give the parents a chance to find them. You can place the animal in a plastic container, such as a laundry bin or Tupperware container, with holes poked in the bottom. Place natural bedding (soft grasses), or soft, 'non-stringy' bedding (try to avoid terry cloth or cloth that can unravel) in the container.
Observe the baby and determine if it is orphaned. Follow the instructions below depending on the species
Specifically About Raccoons
Caution: Rabies vector species. Always wear gloves when handling.
Be very careful not to create orphan raccoons by accident. When a baby raccoon is separated from its mother during the night, the baby will stay where it is until the mother returns, which may not be until the next night. People often find a sleeping baby raccoon and will assume it needs to be rescued. However, it is likely that the mother will be back after dark. If the baby raccoon is not in imminent danger, it’s best to observe the baby for another 24 hours without disturbing it. Unnecessarily removing an animal from its environment – particularly a baby – can cause more harm than simply leaving it be. It is important to recognize signs of distress.
There are a few cases where you might need to intervene:
The baby raccoon has been crying continuously.
The baby raccoon remains in the same spot for 24 hours.
The eyes are closed and the baby raccoon is alone. (no mother)
The baby raccoon is lying stretched out and is cold to the touch.
The mother has been removed, relocated or is dead.
The baby raccoon is injured or has been attacked.
The baby raccoon walks up to humans non-aggressively.