I sat outside in the dark with Baby until midnight. I intentionally did not feed him hoping his hungry calls would help attract his family... Even still he was much quieter tonight than he was last night. The mosquitos were of course terrible and when i checked in on Baby at midnight noticed there was quite a cloud of mosquitoes that had collected in his carrier.
I decided to bring him in and feed him, and put him in a clean carrier. He ate really well. I am bothered at how quickly he has adapted to me... he calls to me, and when he is out of the cage will follow me where ever i walk. I am trying hard not to interact too much with him.
Throughout the rest of last night rather than subject Baby to the mosquitoes (and myself for that matter) I would get up every couple of hours looking for signs of his family eating... no signs at 2am, nothing at 3:00, and then nothing at 5am. But I noticed that they had definitely been there because all the food was now gone and I could see where momma had been washing her food.
So, one last feeding for Baby this morning before i tucked him back into his carrier for the day while i am at work. I have renewed hope that tonight will be the night he is reunited. My plan is to set the alarm for 3:00 and stay outside waiting for the family.
Some side thoughts and concerns:
1) I have learned that raccoons are commonly the host carrier to a large (5-8") round worm that lives happily in the racoons intestines. This round worm can be passed to other animals and to humans. The bad thing is that in hosts other than raccoons, the worm will become "confused" and instead of going to the intestines, will go to either the brain or eyes... Gross! I have been diligently washing and changing my clothes everytime I have to handle him as the whole brain-eating worm thing really freaks me out.
2) It is not true that a momma bird will refuse to take a baby back if it has the scent of human on it... but with the extremely keen sense of smell that racoons have, I am worried if the momma will recognize him as her own and take him back... god i hope so.
After speaking with local wildlife rehabbers I was assured that the mother would not reject the baby even with his new and strange smells attached.
Since I blogged about this whole incident, I feel a sense of responsibility to whom ever might read this. In most all cases when it comes to rescuing wildlife you should generally not attempt to feed babies. 99% of the time there are techniques and diet considerations that HAVE got to be used, if someone meaning well attempts to feed or give water to a baby that does not know these dietary needs or techniques in feeding they will kill the baby. The factors that I considered with deciding to do this were the following:
1) The baby had not eaten in three days.
2) Despite the lack of food for three days the baby appeared healthy (as did the rest of the family when we saw them after 2 days of being trapped in the wall.)
3) The baby was old enough to go to the bathroom without my assistance, he was also clearly old enough that he had enough of the mechanics of eating to compensate for my being an amateur.
4) I have some past experience with wildlife rehab, have watched experienced-rehabbers feed baby mammals, and read up on the techniques and diet of raccoons.
The reasons I did not simply place the baby in a carrier and contact a rehabber were:
1) I was positive i could follow the protocol for feeding and care as well as provide a quiet, dark, safe place away from other animals.
2) I was certain the mother was returning to the area and reuniting the family results in better success than ANY rehab situation.