Young Raccoons Leaving Natal Dens
Most raccoons in the Northeast are born in April or early May and spend the next seven weeks inside a tree cavity (brush piles and underground burrows are known but not prevalent denning sites) living off their mother’s milk. Four to six weeks go by before the young are able to stand upright, but soon thereafter they are climbing and hanging out of the cavity entrance. The young raccoons are in the process of being weaned when they leave their den at the age of seven weeks. For the next month or so the mother raccoon and her offspring forage together; by the age of five months the young are doing a lot of foraging on their own. Often the family remains together into the late fall or even winter. During cold winter weather, they typically will den together, and the following spring when the new litter arrives, the one-year-old raccoons disperse. (Thanks to Andrea Ambros for photo op.)
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