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It’s Nice To Help Mother Nature’s Raccoons And Opossums

A wild baby raccoon and wild baby opossums find their way to Dr. Murray’s veterinary clinic.

By Jerry Murray, DVM
Posted: May 16, 2012, 4 a.m. EDT

baby raccoon held in hands
Orphaned wild baby raccoons and other wildlife sometimes need help from a wildlife rahabilitator and/or veterinarian.

Sometimes Mother Nature needs a little help, as was the case with two recent wildlife cases I treated. Both cases involved spring babies needing some help from two-legged moms.

The first case was a baby raccoon that was found. It was unclear what had happened to its mother, but the baby was brought to a local wildlife rehabber. The baby had a slight nasal discharge and was not as active as one would expect for a raccoon. The rehabber was afraid that the baby raccoon had aspirated some of the milk formula. There was no cleft palate on the roof of the raccoon’s mouth, which would make aspiration of the milk likely. The baby raccoon had a normal suckling response, which was another good sign. Additionally the lung sounds were normal. Thus it was unlikely that the baby raccoon had aspiration pneumonia; however, he did have a mild upper respiratory infection.

A fecal exam was done to check for intestinal parasites. No parasites were found, but it is still recommended to deworm for roundworms. The raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is a zoonotic problem, which means it can be spread to humans. The baby raccoon was dewormed and started on an antibiotic for the respiratory infection. He quickly improved.

flowers in a vase
© Jerry Murray
Wildlife and plants are part of Mother Nature, and it's nice to be able to help sometimes.

The second case involved four baby opossums. Sadly, the mother opossum was found dead near a local lake, and the four babies were still way too young to make it on their own. A wildlife educator brought the baby opossums to my clinic. They weighed a mere 3.5 ounces each. Surprisingly, they were in pretty good shape, considering they had been attached to a dead mom. They were started on an antibiotic in case they had ingested any milk from the mom after she was dead. Opossums are North America’s only marsupial (pouched animal), and it is recommended to also use an antifungal medication when using an antibiotic with baby opossums.

It did not take long for the baby opossums to gain weight and increase in size. In a mere three weeks, they grew to more than three times their initial size. These growing opossum babies should be ready for release later this summer.

Like this column? Then check out Saving Raccoons And Squirrels In Fall Baby Season and Raccoons: The Masked Bandit.

See all of Dr. Murray's columns>>
See Dr. Murray author bio>>

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It’s Nice To Help Mother Nature’s Raccoons And Opossums

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Reader Comments
I see raccoons often near where I live. Sometimes as many as 5 come into my back yard at a time. I live near a large park, and raccoon sighting are common. Many times if I outwalking at night near where I live 2 or 3, mybe 4 raccoonse going about their nighttime prowling for food and slipping under low fences or gates to enter. With me, they gain entry climbing over the fence in back.
William, San Francisco, CA
Posted: 4/20/2014 2:19:35 PM
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