When Do Baby Raccoons Leave the Nest?
Raccoons are very active creatures with a highly developed sense of curiosity and intelligence. As adorable as it is to observe baby raccoons, many homeowners eventually find themselves wondering, “When do baby raccoons leave the nest?”
Baby raccoons, known as kits, typically stay in their nest for up to 12 weeks before venturing out into the world. During the time the kits remain in the nest, they rely on their mother for care and protection. As they approach the end of their 12 weeks in the nest, they become increasingly independent and curious.
At this point, the mother raccoon begins a gradual process of teaching her kits skills like climbing, scurrying and searching for food. This learning process usually begins a few weeks before they leave their nest and continues into adulthood. To facilitate their learning, the mother raccoon takes her kits on trips, allowing them to explore the world around them.
Leaving the Nest
When the kits are around three months old, which marks the end of their 12 week nest stay, they will leave with their mother in search of food. Even after this, the mother raccoon continues to provide care and protection for her young until they are around one year old. At this point, they have learned enough to survive on their own and the mother raccoon will eventually wander away.
Out on Their Own
When the kits are completely independent and on their own, we can expect the following behavior:
- Exploring: Raccoons will spend a great deal of time exploring until they are familiar with their new environment.
- Playfighting: As they approach adulthood, it’s not unusual to observe them playfighting with siblings and other raccoons they encounter.
- Scavenging: While they may still rely on their mother for food, the kits will increasingly forage for food on their own for survival.
Though wild animals can bring their own set of risks and challenges, watching baby raccoons grow is a treat and seeing them leave their nest is truly amazing. While raccoons may be more infamous for their mischievous behaviors, they are also quite remarkable and seeing them take those first steps out into the world is a sight to behold.