Spring is upon us! Which means babies of all species will be popping up more frequently. We’ve compiled facts about mating & baby season for some common wildlife. We also included pointers on what to do if you come across a litter, and who to call.
Raccoon babies (kits): Raccoons breed in winter and spring, but a mild winter can mean early babies. Female raccoons are pregnant for 9 weeks, with litters of 1-7 kits born anywhere from late February to June or even July. Raccoons are extremely maternal and do not couple up, meaning litters are raised by only their mother. In fact if her first litter does not survive, she will have a second litter in the summer. Kits start leaving the den to forage at about 12 weeks of age. Females stay with their mothers longer than males, some as long as a year.
Skunk babies (kits): Skunks mate around late February to early March, when they leave their winter den. The females can actually store sperm away from her eggs until the weather conditions are favourable! They give birth after about 2 months - so kits are expected to start popping up around May. Female skunks have a single litter per year, and raise the babies on their own without the male. After about 8 weeks, the kits will start to forage at night with their mother, and typically leave the den for good by the fall.
Squirrel babies (pups): Squirrels have two baby seasons! One in the spring and one in summer. Litters are born around 1-1.5 months after mating, and can have anywhere from 1-7 pups each time. Although the pups are born naked and blind, they don’t stay with their mother for long. They start to forage after a month, and leave the nest for good by the late summer or early fall.
Rabbit babies (kits): A gestational period of only 1 month allows female rabbits to have 3-4 litters per year. They first mate around late winter and continue into the fall, with each litter producing 4-5 kits. They grow quickly, and can leave the nest for good after only 1 month. If you come across a litter, do not assume the mother has abandoned it. The mother typically comes back at night. To be sure, you can place grass or clippings around the nest. If you come back the next day and the clippings have been flattened, that means the mother was there!
Opossum babies (joeys): Opossums are the only marsupial native to Canada. They have 1-2 litters per year of 4-8 joeys, with their mating season starting in mid to late winter and ending in the fall. Opossums are pregnant for only 13 days! But joeys will stay in their mother’s pouch for 2 months, after which time they will travel on her back. At about 3-4 months of age, the joeys are old enough to leave their mother. Unfortunately hundreds of opossums are killed by moving vehicles each year. If you come across one, safely check for babies in her pouch if you are able, and contact a wildlife rescue right away.
Bat babies (pups): Bats are very interesting animals. Not only are they the only mammal that can fly, they are endangered and considered a protected species in Canada. Bats mate in the fall, but females store the sperm and fertilize the following spring. Bats do not repopulate as quickly, given they have 1 pup per year. Bats are pregnant for 1-2 months, typically giving birth in early summer. It is illegal to harm or kill bats, and wildlife companies are only permitted to exclude bats during May (before babies) and September (before hibernation)!
In any case, if you find babies please do not panic or try to move them without professional guidance. All too often, people try to feed or house litters and unknowingly hurt the babies or worse.
If you fear a litter has been abandoned, contact a wildlife rescue or rehab centre. https://www.ontariowildliferescue.ca/wildlifecentres/ has a map of locations all over Ontario.
If you think you have a litter in your home or on your property, call a trusted wildlife removal company! A legitimate company will never trap and relocate a mother away from her babies, or separate them in any way. If we come across an accessible litter while on the job, we have a stringent protocol where we remove and place the babies in a safe, warm space where the mother will find and relocate them. We also screen off entry point(s) so that wildlife cannot get back in.
Contact Gunning Wildlife Removal & Pest Control today for a quote or booking! We service southern Ontario including: Woodstock, London, Stratford, Kitchener, Waterloo, Brantford, Paris, Tillsonburg and surrounding areas.
Call: (519) 421-2677
Text: (289) 987-0390