Hairless Raccoon Puzzles Wildlife Rescuers

A Nova Scotia woman encountered something she had never seen before: a small pink creature with no fur, eating cat food in her backyard. Jamie Forgeron went out to feed her cats and found a strange animal hiding behind the generator. It was a raccoon — hairless and shivering — looking for food. The animal didn’t seem to be distressed, but Jamie and her husband worried that it could be sick or have frostbite from the cold, so they called Hope For Wildlife, a wild animal rehabilitation center. The staff agreed to take the animal, so the Forgerons set up a live trap and baited with cat food to catch the naked raccoon. Within hours, the animal was secured and Hope For Wildlife picked it up. Hope Swinimer, founder of Hope For Wildlife, said the raccoon has been affectionately named Rufus, after the naked mole-rat character in the 2000's children's television show Kim Possible. The raccoon was initially thought to be male, but after it was put under anesthetic for dermatological testing, staff at the center confirmed that she is a female. Swinimer said the raccoon is doing well and is generally healthy and quite feisty, but she's just lacking hair, which could be caused by a condition called alopecia. It's unclear if the animal has a parasite, mange or fungal infection, but she's not showing any other symptoms. Tests will be done and samples will be sent away to be sure. Under supervision and a good diet, the raccoon may grow back some of her fur and be able to be released back into the wild.