This is "Wobbly" and a poster child for the reason to NEVER assume that an animal is sick just because of the way they walk!

About 5 years ago a Momma Raccoon brought up 4 babies and we noticed that 2 of them seemed to walk a little slow, while a third lagged behind and would take a step or two and thenfall down. At first, we attributed this to the fact that this little girl might just be so young that he she had not developed her sea legs yet, but as the days and weeks went by we noticed there was very little to no improvement. I knew it could not be rabies since she was not sluggish nor aggressive and had this problem too long already.

One day I walked out the door to feed them and Momma and her children were up by the deck and I guess I startled her as she took off and all of the children ran with her. Little Wobbly tried, but kept falling down so she climbed a tree, only going up about 5 feet. I walked up to the tree and could have reached out and petted her but she was scared to death and looked frozen from the fear of what I was going to do next so I just talked to her for about 10 minutes, then slowly backed away from the tree. There have been times I wish I would have picked her up or at least tried and then just held her close, but I still believe what I did was the right thing to do and it probably alleviated her fears.

I have an extremely hard time watching an animal that has an injury and even now 4 -5 years later I just cringe when I see Wobbly take a step or two and fall down and even sometimes rolling over from the fall. She comes up every single night to eat and I KNOW that she would not have made it in the wild had we not fed her all of these years and of course that gives me satisfaction. She has grown into a BEAUTIFUL raccoon with wonderful coloring and an extremely mild temperament.

I have contacted colleagues, friends, experts, zoos and just about anyone that I think might know about this condition and yet not one soul has ever heard of it. However, we have come to the conclusion that it is a genetic trait because in the past 4 years there have been several more little “Wobblys” each spring that are her children, though none of them have this as bad as Wobbly does. We have also noticed that none of the other grown raccoons bother her or become offensive to her, so I am convinced that in the raccoon kingdom, they recognize that she has a disability and they leave her alone.

We have noticed that when she walks and even when she stands as you might be able to see in my photo, she stands on her tiptoes and almost never puts her feet flat on the ground. Just about every time I see her walk and fall, I just want to run outside, pick her up and tell her "it is OK, and I am here for you!" and give her a big hug………..but when she sees me looking at her and I speak her name, there have been times that I think I see a little twinkle in her eyes and a bit of a smile, telling ME …………she knows, and it IS OK!!!

Her name is Wobbly and she is a sweetheart!!


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  • Rudie

    Hi Ron,

    I want to thank you for your insightful & inspirational story of “Wobbly.” I commend you for taking the time to enlighten us that would have wrongfully assumed it was distemper or rabies.
    We ALL matter & we ALL deserve to live.

    • 3:19 pm - July 14, 2012

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    • Ron S.

      Lisa, it also breaks my heart to see Wobbly fall and I just want to go out there and help him but I know I can’t do that all the time and I know that just feeding him and seeing to it that he gets fresh water and food everynight is what is giving him a good life makes me feel wonderful.

      Rudie, I think in this day and age there are just too many people that simply don’t care about anything and honestly I don’t even feel sorry for that kind of person. People that don’t love animals are in my book worthless!

      • 3:45 pm - August 12, 2012

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  • Lisa Thomas

    I also feed a female raccoon with the same condition, I named her Tipsey Russell. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen her fall down the stairs, and it breaks my heart every time. Her behavior is normal for a raccoon, she just walks like she’s really drunk!

    • 10:40 pm - August 11, 2012

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  • Tammie

    We noticed a juvenile raccoon in our backyard tonight. He/she was just like you describe. Wobbly in the backend. He didn’t seem afraid, just wary of us. He wandered away slowly after a while but did eat some cat chow, it’s all I had on hand. He seemed a bit stronger as he left, but that could’ve just been wishful thinking on my part. Is there anything special I should watch for? I can’t stand to think of him suffering and hope he comes back. He did seem tog wt around ok, considering he was wobbly and slow. Tammterry@aol.com. Please email me any time:)

    • 6:56 pm - January 28, 2014

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    • Havahart®

      Hi Tammie! Thanks for your comment! Raccoons are nocturnal animals, so if you see one during the day that may be an indication. Also, if you observe their eating habits changing drastically; this could be another sign that they are not feeling well. Please let us know if you have any questions!

      • 12:27 pm - February 6, 2014

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  • Robert Wheeler

    Hi Ron,
    My wife and I have been feeding racoons for 6 years now. They are just amazing to watch, but it gets expensive. I was interested in your writing because this is the first year we have experienced a wobbly racoon. I got concerned about rabies and or some type of disease at first. It makes you feel sorry for it watching it try to walk and eat. This poor thing has to lay down to eat the cookies and grapes we feed it. Thanks for your article and you are right, it does look at us and seem to say THANK-YOU for feeding me.

    • 2:26 pm - March 10, 2014

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    • Havahart®

      Hi Robert! Thank you so much for visiting the Havahart Community and sharing your story! We’re so glad that are article on “Wobbly” raccoons helped, too. If you ever happen to snap a photo of the raccoons, you should enter our Critter of the Month contest on Facebook – we’re giving away a $25 Amazon Gift card to one winner each month this year. All you would need to do it submit your photo. Here’s the link: https://a.pgtb.me/4wPlRk Have a great day!

      Your friends at Havahart®

      • 5:25 pm - March 10, 2014

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