Do Female Raccoons Make Good Mothers?

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They most certainly do. Female raccoons are pretty awesome moms. The female will raise the cubs on her own, and will usually stay with them for the twelve to fourteen months of their juvenile lives.

About one week before she’s ready to give birth, the coon mamma will start nesting, preparing her future nursery up in a hollow tree, down the flue at the bottom of a chimney, or in an attic. This usually happens in the months of April and May. Once she’s given birth, she will practically be obsessed with her young for the next couple of weeks, leaving the nest only to forage for food, and returning often to feed her babies. This is also the time of the year raccoons make the most damage trying to get to food sources, because they need to feed more in order to produce enough milk to keep their babies fat and warm. During these weeks, the mother raccoon will also take the role of a security guard, frequently inspecting the surroundings in search of possible predators.

The female raccoon is a dedicated mother, and once the young are weaned (somewhere between two to four months of age), she will start taking them with her during nighttime, showing them all the different food sources she knows, and teaching them how to best navigate the territory. They learn all sorts of acrobatics and survival skills from her, as she patiently and repeatedly encourages them to overcome their insecurities and use their bodies and the objects around them fearlessly. She will often spend almost an entire night teaching them how to get through one little obstacle. And the unsuccessful are never left behind, as she will pick them up in her mouth and drag them herself through the impossible nooks and crannies she goes through.

Bold and perseverant, the mother raccoon will keep at it for an entire year. Once they reach about eleven months of age, the females in the litter will have already reached sexual maturity, so they will be able to breed themselves shortly. The males in the litter will reach sexual maturity a little bit later, when they’re about two-years-old, so they’ll have to wait until the next mating season to pass their genes along. The young will often remain with their mother to den together over the winter, but with the arrival of more kind temperatures, the males will leave in search of other faraway territories. The females will also separate and become independent, but they tend to occupy territories that are closer to where they were born.

The raccoon will give birth to an average of three to five deaf and blind kits that will become “functional” when they’re somewhere between six to eight weeks of age. A month or two from when this happens, the mother raccoon will cut them off of her milk and get them accustomed to solid food by taking them with her into the wild of our urban and suburban jungles.

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