A few days ago we received a phone call from a woman in Haliburton.
Gizmo’s nakedness an unsolved mystery.
Gizmo, a bald raccoon, visits the Cottage Country Animal Clinic.
She had found a very strange-looking animal in her shed, huddled up in a corner, and wondered what it was and what she should do about it.
It was described as bald except for its face, and with ears that appeared bigger than a raccoon’s. She was very concerned that it wouldn’t be able to survive in our cold Muskoka winter, but didn’t want to approach the strange, hissing animal.
The caller did leave food for it, and took some photos, which she emailed to us. The staff couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the photos of what they determined was clearly a bald raccoon.
Puzzled staff discussed different theories about why it was bald and emailed the photos to our veterinarian.
Did it have mange, a parasite that attacks the skin? No, there were no scabs or other evidence of mange.
Could it be another parasite? Maybe. Could it be some other disease? Maybe. Could it be simply a result of too many animals denning in one den?
Staff had previously experienced raccoons and bear cubs with spots of bare patches where they had rubbed up against a buddy while hibernating, but never an animal who was almost completely bald.
Whatever the cause, the Haliburton resident was concerned enough to go out and buy a live trap to catch this unfortunate creature, and then called us to come and get it.
Back at Aspen Valley, staff closely examined the raccoon, now nicknamed Gizmo, to ascertain that mange wasn’t the problem. The next day Gizmo was taken into Parry Sound to Dr. Garner at the Cottage Country Animal Clinic.
Dr. Garner continues to investigate this uncommon discovery, consulting other experts in the field of wildlife veterinary care.
Gizmo is now warm inside the barn, where he doesn’t have to worry about freezing or starvation, and hopefully we will eventually be able to determine the cause of (and hopefully cure) for his lack of fur.
Until then, he remains one very odd-looking raccoon.
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(These weekly articles are contributed by staff at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with a mandate to educate the public towards a better understanding of local fauna.)