Want to see more amazing pictures and videos of our orphan raccoons growing up and being released? Jack Gescheidt, volunteer extraordinaire, professional photographer and documentary film maker has a beautiful website devoted to his foster care raccoons. See it at www.raccoonery.com.
Here are a few of our success stories from our years with Megan Isadore at the helm of our Rancho Raccoon Foster Team..
|Zachary was found wandering in Golden Gate Fields, with an injured front leg. He spent a few days recuperating in this small pen with a “disabled” ramp, then joined a crew of other raccoons his age. He was successfully released in the fall with his pod.|
|Petal, Petunia, Popo and Jack, our Alameda babies, were dehydrated and emaciated when they came to Rancho Raccoon. Before long, they were too fat for their basket! That didn’t stop them from piling in.|
|The Count, an adult raccoon, was hit by a car in Berkeley. Heroic passers-by picked him off the side of the road and brought him to our main site in Oakland. With much rest and good nutrition, followed by a regimen of physical challenge, he recovered fully and returned to live his natural life.|
|Raccoons must learn to climb like monkeys! They are naturally arborial, and have skeletal and muscular adaptations that help them stay safe in high trees.|
|Screeches was found wandering alone in a park, and thankfully rescued by a kind passer-by. He weighed less than a pound and could never have survived on his own. Weaning raccoons are often given pieces of fruit as one of their first solid foods.|
|Young Daisy and Desmond playing with a bay branch. Raccoons eat bay nuts, as well as acorns, manzanita berries, huckleberries and many other foods found commonly in the Bay Area. We provide our foster raccoons as many natural food sources as possible, to teach them foraging skills.|
|Raccoon Pool Party! We help our foster raccoons learn to forage in streams by providing pools filled with twigs, leaves, rocks and tasty morsels! Here the raccoons dabble to find live crayfish.|
Above Photos by Shelley Ladd, Megan Isadore, Terence Carroll
Help “Tiny Tim” — and all the wild animals in our care.
One of 2010’s first orphaned raccoon babies, Tiny Tim turned out to have a very unusual disability.
As he grew, we realized his back legs were not working normally, and in fact, did not work at all! Radiographs (x-rays) showed that his spine was either fractured or congenitally unusual, resulting in paralysis of both back legs. Normally, this would be a death sentence for a baby raccoon, since raccoons who cannot run and climb are easy prey for cars, owls, coyotes, dogs and bobcats.
This particular baby, Tiny Tim, is among the luckiest of raccoons.
Enter the Veterinarians!
For several years, Dr. Andrew Sams of The Sams Clinic, an orthopaedic specialty vet clinic in Mill Valley, has kindly donated consultations about our raccoons with bone issues, and provided the best in orthopedic advice. This time the conversation went, “Dr. Sams, I really need you to see this raccoon baby. His back legs don’t work at all!” The happy news is that the Sams Clinic has a neurosurgeon on staff, Dr. Lisa Klopp, who examined young Tim.
Dr. Klopp’s exam revealed that Tiny Tim would most likely need surgery to correct the spinal cord compression. Because Rancho Raccoons animals are wildlife, not pets, and must be releasable to live their natural wild lives, we were most concerned that he is able to socialize and grow as a wild animal among his own kind. While we love caring for the animals we look after, we’re careful to keep them wild, and a protracted recovery would put Tiny Tim somewhat behind his peer group in development. Thankfully, raccoon babies are very social among their peer group, and our long experience tells us that Tim will catch up surprisingly quickly once he can use those legs.
Now the Foster Care!
Amy Pfaffman and Jack Gescheidt, two of our foster care volunteers, have taken on care of Tiny Tim. During his pre-surgical weeks, the goal is allowing the fracture to heal so that there is a sturdy base for his upcoming surgery. Amy and Jack have been exercising Tiny Tim’s back legs daily to keep them limber and strong. Meanwhile, he is developing as a normal raccoon baby, and is eager to explore his world! His forearms and shoulders are Popeye-like, a result of propelling himself using only two legs! Because he is on his own (his pod of siblings is busy climbing, which Tim cannot do at this point), Timmy is more attached to his humans than is usual. Raccoon babies are brought up in pods of similar-aged babies, and learn best from their own kind. Tim will need to catch up with his pod post-surgery, but meanwhile is getting excellent physical therapy from Amy and Jack.
We hope Tim will regain full use of his back legs, and be releasable either with his pod, or with a slightly younger pod. If he needs a few extra weeks with a younger group to catch up, we will be able to accommodate that. The very difficult side of wildlife rehab is that, despite all our efforts, we aren’t able to save every animal. It’s possible that Timmy will not be able to live as a normal wild animal, and if his back legs don’t work, he would have no quality of life, even as an “educational” animal. So we move forward in this endeavor with faith in raccoons’ healing powers, which are prodigious, and in his caregivers all doing our very best for him.While the Sams Clinic and Dr. Klopp are generously donating their services for this youngster who’s stolen everyone’s heart, we are always in need of donations to cover the daily care not just of Tiny Tim, but of all our masked clients.
Tiny Tim regained about 93% of normal function and was released back into the wild to live the life he was born to.
Thank you to all the Caregivers, Veterinarians, and everyone who helped, took an interest, and followed Tim’s story!
Above stories written by Megan Isadore, photos and video by Jack Gescheidt see more at www.raccoonery.com.