Baby Raccoons

This afternoon, the pager went off with a phone number displayed from the Little Rock area. It just so happened that I was in Little Rock at the time, so was able to meet the caller not too much later. It was mid afternoon and she had found some cold and shivering baby raccoons in her back yard. An odd time of day to find raccoon babies, we agreed that something must have happened to the mother.

On the way home, I met with fellow wildlife rehabilitator, Krystal Moore from Conway, to pick up more animals from her. Because Krystal is within the city limits of Conway (although well into the country), she has undergone a sometimes ugly battle with the city to allow her to do wildlife rehabilitation. At this point, the case is still up in the air and she is not taking animals for rehabilitation. However, she is helping them get to other centers....Like us. So, from Krystal, my scheduled picked up was for a juvenile wood rat and a juvenile opossum. Little did I know there would be one more raccoon to add to the bunch. By the time I left her house, my car was a veritable traveling zoo!

At HAWK Center, we do not have the facilities for raccoons. BUT, we do network with other rehabilitators and already have plans for transferring them in the morning. The last raccoon received is in pretty bad shape, with an infected and necrotic partially amputated front leg. He was found when he fell from someone's chimney into their dining room. He is obviously in a lot of pain and we will do our best to keep him comfortable through the night. First thing in the morning, we'll be visiting Dr. John Davis for evaluation and quite possibly euthanasia. Many mammals can do fine without one front leg, but a raccoon definitely needs both front feet, so this little guy probably wouldn't survive in the wild. We'll double check the placement listings and see if any facilities are in search of a raccoon for display before we make any decisions.

As far as humans finding raccoons, please be aware that handling any wild animal is dangerous. Raccoons, can be even more so because of the zoonotic parasites they carry called Baylis ascaris procyonis. Zoonotics are those diseases & parasites which are transmissible between humans and animals. The reason Baylis ascaris procyonis is so dangerous is due to the difficulty in killing it. You see, in a raccoon only, Baylis is essentially harmless because the raccoon is the natural host. However, in a non-raccoon, the worm larvae goes looking for its host and will travel on its search. Not finding the raccoon, the larvae will often lodge in the spine, the eye, or the brain. All of these locations are extremely dangerous to anything except the raccoon and the effect can include paralysis, blindness or potentially even death (*see references listed below).

So, PLEASE be careful when you find raccoons. Do not handle them unless absolutely necessary. If you must handle them, wear gloves....We do! Oh yes, I would be remiss if I didn't write: do NOT EVER put ANY wild animal near your mouth - this means NO Kissing them!!!!
  • Boschetti A, Kasznica J. Visceral larva migrans induced eosinophilic cardiac pseudotumor: A cause of sudden death in a child. J Forensic Sci 1995; 40:1097-1099. - PubMed -
  • Fox AS, Kazacos KR, Gould NS, Heydemann PT, Thomas C, Boyer KM. Fatal eosinophilic meningoencephalitis and visceral larva migrans caused by the raccoon ascarid Baylisascaris procyonis. New Engl J Med 1985; 312:1619-1623.
  • Huff DS, Neafie RC, Binder MJ, De León, Brown LW, Kazacos KR. The first fatal Baylisascaris infection in humans: an infant with eosinophilic meningoencephalitis. Pediatric Pathol 1984; 2:345-352. - PubMed
  • Cunningham CK, Kazacos KR, McMillan JA McAuley JB, Wozniak EJ, Weiner LB. Diagnosis and management of Baylisascaris procyonis infection in an infant with nonfatal meningoencephalitis. Clin Infect Dis 1994; 18:868-872. - PubMed
  • Kazacos KR, Raymond LA, Kazacos EA, Vestre WA. The raccoon ascarid, a probable cause of human ocular larva migrans. Ophthalmology 1985; 92:1735-1743. - PubMed -

No comments: