Tiki the raccoon was about eight weeks old when she was brought to us late one Friday night. She had been found the morning before. Instead of immediately contacting a rehabber, the person had tried unsuccessfully to feed Tiki. She was totally debilitated and near death. Our vet's office was closed so it was up to us to save her...if we could.
We tried coaxing her to take formula from an eyedropper. She refused every type of formula and fluid we offered, too weak to nurse. We could not force feed her for fear of aspirating the fluid into her lungs, causing pneumonia and certain death in her weakened condition. If Tiki could not gather the energy to fight for her life, she was going to die.
So we kept trying and, finally, we got her to take a few drops of the condensed milk formula. Not the recommended formula, but we hoped this sugary milk would at least give her the energy to nurse. An hour later, we got her to take a little more. We kept a vigil that night and the next day, coaxing her to nurse a little more each time. By Saturday afternoon, our spirits were bouyed as we got Tiki to take two ounces of kitten formula from a bottle. She was fighting for her life now. By Saturday evening, four ounces at each feeding. She was going to make it!
By the next evening, Tiki was able to stand, although her rear legs were terribly weak, and lap up a gruel of formula, baby rice cereal and strained banannas. By Monday afternoon, Tiki was walking - not too strongly or gracefully, her rear legs kept giving out on her - but very determinedly. She was also totally tame already. She was brought to the vet and given her shots. Over the next two weeks, Tiki's appetite grew daily (she really LOVED bananas!), and with it her strength. She was walking faster now and almost running. But her rear legs kept giving out on her. We knew that this was no longer just because Tiki was weak. Something was wrong.
A return trip to the vet confirmed the problem with Tiki's legs. Whether neurological or the result of some injury, she would never be able to walk and run normally. Her condition, while not painful, meant Tiki could never be returned to the wild.
Part of me wanted to keep this little raccoon as a pet since I could justify it. But I knew that there would be other rescues that would need me in the future (oh but Tiki was so sweet...) So we made the decision to find her a home as soon as possible, while she was young enough to bond with her new surrogate family.
Tiki found a home with a women who works for another vet in our area. She is given calcium supplements to prevent further deterioration of her legs as she grows. By day, Tiki earns her keep as the vet office mascot. But in the evenings, Tiki goes home and is simply a pampered pet raccoon who walks a little funny.