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Raccoon Cubs' First Outing with Mom
Raccoons breed in the fall, gestate over the winter, and give birth in the spring. Raccoons gestate about 60 days, the same as dogs. Like puppies, raccoon cubs are blind and helpless. The sow (mom) nurses them, introduces them to solid food, shows them how to find food by going with her on trips, then lets them go on their own. Cubs are weened and ready for trips about 70 days after birth. And it's only natural the sows should bring them to where the food is readily available.
The sow is very protective, but the cubs are fearless and excited to explore.
The sow showed the cubs how to drink from the pool. The water level was pretty far down and one cub fell in. Although raccoons are great swimmers, I wasn't sure if the cub could swim. I went out to get the pool net. The sow hissed at me as soon as she saw me - and I was still ten feet away on the other side of the deck rail. I planned to go the long way around and scoop the cub out, but the cub made it to the scamper ramp and climbed out. I retreated.
The sow decided the trip was done and tried to leave the way they came, but jumping from the rock back up to the fence proved much harder for the cubs than jumping down. They tried again and again. Mom tried to help, but wasn't able. I decided to help again. I went out and put a log between the rock and fence for the cubs. Mom was really freaked now, but she and one cub left. Apparently she forgot she came with two cubs.
The other cub had been exploring and missed Mom's departure. I was worried for him. I waited an hour but the sow didn't come back for him. I figured my yard was a relatively safe place, plenty of food and water.
Three days later she came back with both cubs, so I guess she eventually returned for the wayward one.
This is White Eyes, so nicknamed for her lack of black mask. She was a juvenile last summer, but now has two cubs of her own. She grew up here and is less skittish, and really likes the peanuts at the deck feeder.
In the background notice the log on the rock to facilitate cub entry and exit, though the cubs grow very quickly. They start out pretty awkward at climbing but get better in just a few days.
Her cubs didn't inherit her lack of mask. This is about a week after Big Momma's visit, and White Eyes' cubs are bigger, more mature than Big Momma's.
White eyes was comfortable to take a swim while the cubs were eating. She did discourage other adult raccoons from feeding near her cubs.
Afterward, she took the cubs to the pool for a drink, then up and out. Once they were gone, the other adults came out to eat, including the big boar - who refuses to be in the yard when any sows with cubs are here.
Cubs on Their Own
By my count, we have three sows with cubs, and eight cubs total. They first came with their mom's about mid-June. By the end of July, the cubs were coming alone. The cubs are not as nocturnal as the adults and show up to eat all hours of the day - morning, midday, dusk... They are hearty eaters, too, going through food like little vacuum cleaners.